March 28, 2014
Maine OUI Laws.
Maine has very tough OUI laws. The lowest level of OUI in Maine can send you to jail for up to 364 days, put you on probation for up to one year, cost you pay a fine of up to $2,000, and take your license for up to three years. A felony OUI involving serious injury or death can send you to prison for years and revoke your license for life. There are many serious penalties between these two ranges. Obviously, few first offenders can expect to see maximum penalties. Even so, the minimum penalties are serious.
What is OUI?
Whether you call it OUI, DWI or DUI, it is basically a crime involving driving while impaired. In Maine it is called OUI. OUI means one or both of two things: First, OUI can be operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants. “Intoxicants” are any substance, including alcohol and both illegal and prescription drugs. You can be “under the influence” if your mental or physical faculties are impaired to the slightest degree, even if you can still safely operate a motor vehicle. Second, OUI can be operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle when you have a blood or breath-alcohol content of .08% or more, regardless of whether you are affected by the alcohol.
The Court’s Penalties.
If you have no prior OUI/DWI/DUI’s in any state and no refusal in Maine in the last ten years, you are considered a first offender. A first offense OUI with no aggravating circumstances carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 150 days license suspension and a $500 fine. After 30 days of no license you can be reinstated if you put an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on any vehicle you drive for 120 days. If you do not install an IID the first 100 days of that suspension are without a work license. If you have aggravating circumstances such as a blood or breath-alcohol content above .14, a passenger under 21 years of age, excessive speeding (30+ mph over the limit) or an accident, there is a mandatory minimum two-day jail sentence. If you refuse to take a breath, urine or blood test the mandatory minimum sentence is four days in jail and a $600 fine. All fines have substantial surcharges of 20% plus additional fees. Some judges routinely exceed these minimum sentences.
A second offense within ten years carries a minimum seven-day jail sentence (twelve days for a refusal), a $700 fine ($900 for refusal), a three-year license suspension without a work license, and a three-year suspension of your vehicle registration. After nine months your license and registration can be reinstated if you install an Ignition Interlock Device in your car for two years.
A third offense within ten years is a felony. It carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $5,000.00 fine and two years of probation. There is a minimum thirty-day jail sentence (forty days for a refusal), a $1,100 fine ($1,400 for refusal), a six-year license suspension without a work license, and a six-year suspension of your vehicle registration. After three years your license and registration can be reinstated if you install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car for three years.
A fourth offense within ten years, or an OUI involving an accident with a serious injury or death of anyone, is a felony even if the OUI did not cause the injury or death. It carries a possible 5-year prison sentence and a minimum jail term of six months (six months and twenty days for a refusal), up to two years of probation, a minimum fine of $2,100 ($2,500 for a refusal), an eigh-year license suspension without a work license, and an eight-year suspension of your vehicle registration. After the eight-year suspension you must install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car for four years.
A driver who causes the death of another person because the driver is OUI faces up to 30 years in prison, six-years of probation, a $20,000 fine and a ten-year to lifetime license suspension.
The Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
The Secretary of State will suspend the license of a driver with a blood or breath-alcohol content of .08% or more, or a driver who fails a DRE evaluation and has a detectable drug metabolite in their system. The suspension will be for the periods listed above for convictions. A minor with any level of blood or breath alcohol can be suspended for one year or more. This suspension can happen even before you go to court! This suspension process starts when the officer files a report with the Secretary of State. A hearing must be requested within ten days of the date of suspension. Any suspension imposed will remain in effect, even if you win the criminal OUI charge. If you are convicted of OUI, the suspension from the court will date back to the Secretary of State suspension in some cases.
If you are 21 years or older and had a passenger under the age of 21, an additional suspension of 275 days will be imposed. If you are under age 21 and had a passenger under 21, an additional suspension of 180 days imposed.
Implied Consent laws (Refusals).
A breath test is the usual test that is given if it is feasible, otherwise it will be a blood or urine test (urine for drugs). The officer chooses the type of test. There is no right for the driver to choose the type of test.
Before determining that a person has refused a test, the officer must advise the person of the penalties for refusing testing and that refusal is admissible in court. If the advisements are not correctly given, the refusal suspension can be lifted, any additional penalties noted above are not assessed, and/or the refusal is not admissible in court. A hearing must be requested within ten days of the date of suspension. Any suspension imposed will remain in effect, even if you win the criminal OUI charge. If a person chooses to take the test there is no requirement that the officer advise the person of the consequences of refusing.
If you refuse a test there is a 275-day license suspension for first refusal, 2 years for second refusal within 10 years; 4 years for third refusal within ten years; and 6 years for fourth refusal within 10 years. You cannot get a work license if you are suspended for a refusal. If you are convicted of OUI, the conviction suspension will be added onto the refusal suspension.
A driver under the age of 21 who refuses a test receives a license suspension of 18 months for the first refusal and 30 months for the second refusal.
If you refuse the test the state will be allowed to tell the jury or judge that you refused, unless the officer did not properly advise you about the consequences of refusing.
Chemical Test Laws.
Breath tests must be conducted by persons certified by Department of Health and Human Services and must be performed on equipment approved by that department. A certificate showing test results is admissible in evidence and constitutes prima facie evidence of blood or breath-alcohol level.
The rules for test procedures are administrative rules adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Full information about the test must be provided to person tested or attorney upon request, after arraignment or filing of the BMV suspension action.
Maine reports all suspensions and all convictions to an out-of-state driver’s home state, and to Canadian provinces. Some home states will suspend a license for the BMV suspension (example: Massachusetts honors Maine BMV suspensions, even though Massachusetts is not a member of the Interstate License Compact.) All states will suspend for a Maine conviction. The length of a suspension based upon a conviction will depend upon the driver’s record in the home state. Canadian provinces will suspend for either BMV suspensions or convictions.