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Experienced OUI Attorney in Maine

An operating under the influence (OUI) charge, also known as a DUI or DWI in other states, is a charge that – if proven beyond a reasonable doubt – can lead to serious penalties and collateral consequences. The keyword here is: proven.

You are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. At the Law Offices of William H. Ashe, we hold the prosecutor, the judge, and the jury accountable to this legal principle. As such, it is always in your best interests to plead not guilty at your arraignment for an OUI. Though you may think your arrest must mean the evidence against you is enough to convict you, the opposite could be true: the evidence may be insufficient or may be excluded if obtained or handled unlawfully.

Here's an overview of OUI laws in Maine. If you still have questions about your OUI arrest, contact our law office to get answers or to learn more about our approach to OUI defense in Maine.

What are the elements of an OUI in Maine?

As mentioned, all elements of a crime must be proven in order for a defendant to be found guilty of the crime. The two elements of an OUI, according to Maine Title 29-A Section 2411, include the following:

  • You were operating a motor vehicle; and
  • You either
    • were under the influence of alcohol or drugs; or
    • had an alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more of alcohol (per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath).

Proving "Operating a Motor Vehicle"

When proving (or disproving) you operated a motor vehicle for the purpose of an OUI charge in Maine, it is important to understand the terms.

"Operate" means to either engage or attempt to engage the transmission to power the motor of a vehicle. That means the vehicle must be powered by a motor (as opposed to a carriage drawn by horses or a bicycle powered by human legs). It also means you do not necessarily have to be driving the vehicle to be "operating" it. For example, you could be pulled over on the side of the road and asleep in the driver seat and still be charged with an OUI even though you were not driving.

"Vehicle" refers only to self-propelled vehicles not operated exclusively on railroad tracks. So, a train is self-propelled but does not constitute a vehicle for the purpose of the OUI statute. There are a few other statutory exceptions, too, including:

  • snowmobiles; and
  • all-terrain vehicles.

All-terrain vehicles are exceptions except for when operated on a public way, at which time it is no longer excluded from OUI laws.

Proving "Under the Influence" of Chemical Substances

Proving you were under the influence of chemical substances is where your OUI attorney will argue the most to challenge the State's case against you. 

"Under the influence" refers to two situations:

  1. the driver's senses (mental or physical faculties) are impaired by some type of intoxicant; or
  2. the driver's blood alcohol or breath alcohol level (BAC or BrAC respectively) was at or above 0.08%. (When drugs are suspected, a urine test is often used.)

The prosecutor does not need to prove a person is under the influence when a breath or blood test results in illegal intoxication.

In the absence of a chemical test, the prosecutor must prove your senses were impaired by alcohol or drugs – including legally obtained prescription drugs. Proving impairment in the absence of a chemic test is most often done by submitting an officer's observations of your behavior or appearance and providing the results of field sobriety tests.

To note, field sobriety tests (FST) are unscientific and highly subjective. Breath, blood, and urine tests are often more accurate, but the problem comes in the handling of the specimen and maintenance of the equipment. An experienced OUI attorney in Maine, like trusted OUI defense lawyer Will Ashe, will be able to identify when a specimen was mishandled or when the equipment was improperly calibrated or otherwise improperly maintained. 

Also, remember that there are many other reasons – physical, mental, emotional, or environmental – that can cause a person to fail an FST, preliminary breath test, or chemical test. 

What are the penalties associated with an OUI conviction in Maine?

When you are arrested for an OUI, there are two processes: the criminal procedure and the administrative procedure. The administrative procedure results in driver's license suspension. The administrative penalties occur in spite of criminal proceedings.

If convicted of an OUI, you can expect additional time for a driver's license suspension, among other penalties. The anticipated penalties depend on the circumstances of the OUI. For instance, if it's your first OUI offense, the penalties will vary starkly depending on whether your BAC was 0.09% and no property was damaged or no person was injured versus a BAC of 0.09% and an auto accident was involved and a person was seriously injured or killed.

The chart below gives you an indication of what penalties to expect.

OUI

Classification

Minimum Incarceration

Minimum Fine

Maximum License Suspension

1st Offense

Class D Misdemeanor

N/A

$500

150 days

1st Offense but refused to submit to a test

Class D Misdemeanor

Mandatory 96 hours

$600

150 days

1 Offense +
-BAC .15% or higher;
-passenger under 21 years of age;
-eluded a police officer; or
-speeding 30 mph or more per the limit

Class D Misdemeanor

Mandatory 48 hours jail

$500

150 days

2nd offense in 10 years

Class D Misdemeanor

7 days in jail

$700

3 years

3rd offense in 10 years

Class C Felony

30 days in jail

$1,100

6 years

4th offense in 10 years

Class C Felony

6 months in jail

$2,100

8 years

Aggravating factors can increase the penalties. Aggravating factors include:

  • having an adult or child under the age of 21 in the vehicle;
  • causing an auto accident that leads to serious bodily injury; or
  • causing an auto accident that leads to a fatality.

Other penalties involve things like drug or alcohol treatment or denial of the right to register a motor vehicle.

It's also important to remember that society poses its own penalties even after you have paid your debt back. These penalties are often referred to as collateral consequences, like:

  • difficulty obtaining a job with a criminal record;
  • difficulty obtaining a professional license;
  • difficulty finding good housing;
  • difficulty obtaining a loan;
  • denial of the right to own or possess a firearm (if the OUI is a felony);
  • other collateral consequences.

Are there defenses to an OUI charge in Maine?

There are many defenses to an OUI charge. A good defense is one that incorporates these defenses and executes a defense strategy with precision and thought. 

Examples of defenses or strategies include:

  • challenging chemical tests;
  • challenging field sobriety tests;
  • proving not impaired but failure of test due to another reason;
  • challenging police officer testimony; and/or
  • filing motions to exclude evidence if any Fourth Amendment right was violated.

Contact an Experienced OUI Attorney in Maine Today

If you have been charged with an OUI offense in Maine, the consequences of a conviction are real and serious. Contact the Law Offices of William H. Ashe online or at 207-615-1344 to get the OUI defense you need and deserve.

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