Most people are familiar with the crime of OUI/DUI/DWI. In Maine, driving while impaired by alcohol is known as Operating Under the Influence. Specifically, Maine Title 29-A Section 2411 makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle while 1) under the influence of intoxicants or 2) while having an alcohol level of .08 or more per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath. The criminal law in Maine goes on to specify mandatory minimum sentences for OUI crimes depending upon the circumstances. These circumstances include prior OUI offenses (including out of state OUI/DUI's) within a 10 year period, the level of alcohol, whether a chemical test was refused, whether a passenger was under 21, whether other motor vehicle crimes were committed at the same time and whether there was an accident involving injury or death. Generally speaking these mandatory sentences affect three areas: 1) mandatory jail time, 2) mandatory loss of license and 3) mandatory fines.
- 1st Offense: $500 fine, 150 day loss of license. Class D Misdemeanor
- 1st Offense with certain aggravating factors (alcohol level of .15 or a passenger under 21 years of age or speeding 30 mph or more at time of offense) $500 fine, 150 day loss of license, mandatory 48 hours jail. Class D Misdemeanor.
- 2nd Offense: $700 fine, 3 year loss of license, 7 days in jail. Class D Misdemeanor
- 3rd Offense: $1,100 fine, 6 year loss of license, 30 days in jail. Class C Felony
- 4th Offense: $2,100 fine, 8 year loss of license, 6 months in jail. Class C Felony
OUI Refusal (refusal to submit to a chemical test) $600 fine, 150 day loss of license consecutive to 275 administrative suspension for in-state license from Bureau of Motor Vehicles, mandatory 96 hours jail.
Administrative OUI Penalties:
The penalties above all relate to what happens when a person is convicted of OUI in Maine. Convicted and charged are two very different things. Convicted of a crime means that a person has by found guilty of the crime, either by a person voluntarily pleading guilty in Court or by a verdict of guilt after trial by a Judge or jury. But in Maine, there are OUI penalties that can occur before someone is found guilty and even when a person will never ultimately be found guilty. These penalties are administrative penalties. The Secretary of State's Office, through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has created their own administrative polices when it comes to OUI. Just by being charged with an OUI, the BMV will typically send out a notice specifying that the individual's license will be suspended. There is a right to appeal the administrative suspension at a hearing to occur at the BMV. These types of suspensions and how they may interact with any subsequent Court ordered license suspensions can be hard for the average person, and in fact some attorneys to navigate. The BMV uses a lower standard of proof know as “preponderance of the evidene,” than does the criminal justice system which uses “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Collateral Penalty Issues:
As a criminal offense, OUI's can also affect your employment status, your ability to hold specialized motor vehicle licenses and even your ability to visit certain foreign countries.
Early Reinstatement/Work Licenses:
Maine law allows for work permit for driving purposes in some instances where an individual has lost the right to operate a motor vehicle either administratively through BMV or through the Court system. Typically these types of restricted license are only available on first offenses with no aggravating circumstances. A work permit requires proof of employment and must be approved by the BMV. Maine law also allows for early reinstatement of the right to operate during the suspension period with the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle. An IID allows for license reinstatement after 30 days of the 15o day suspension on a first offense, after 9 months of the 3 year suspension on a second offense, after 3 years of the 6 year suspension on a third offense or after 4 years of the 8 year suspension on a fourth offense. The IID must be kept in the motor vehicle for the duration of the original suspension period; for example, on a second offense OUI, an individual's license is suspended for 3 years, after 9 months of that suspension, the individual can drive so long as they've been approved for an IID restricted license and installed an IID. The individual must maintain the IID for the remaining 27 months of the suspension (3 years – 9 months already served).
If you've been charged with OUI, consider contacting an experienced OUI attorney to discuss the particular laws and penalties that apply to you and your case. Your life and your future is worth defending. Part II of my Maine OUI Laws: OUI/DUI Charges in Maine, OUI/DUI Penalties will deal with specific issues that come up in evaluating OUI/DUI cases in Maine.