Posted July 11, 2014, by Edmund R. Folsom.
A couple of recent changes to Maine’s OUI laws take effect on August 1, 2014. As a general rule, prior OUI convictions serve to increase mandatory punishment for subsequent offenses, but only if the prior offense was within 10 years of the new conduct. For anyone who commits new OUI conduct on or after August 1, 2014, the 10-year timeframe will no longer be calculated from the date of docket entry of the prior conviction. Instead, the 10-year timeframe will be calculated from the date the sentence was imposed for the prior conviction. Under the older method of calculation, two people might have been sentenced for OUI on the same date and might each have committed a subsequent OUI on the same date 10 years and 1 day later. Yet while one person’s prior conviction would count to enhance punishment for the later OUI the other’s would not, simply because the court clerk happened to enter one person’s conviction in the docket record a day or so after entering the other. The new method of calculation eliminates any such unequal treatment.
Also for conduct that occurs on or after August 1, 2014, there will no longer be any limit on the age of a prior conviction that can be used to elevate new OUI conduct to Class B based on prior convictions. The punishment category for operating under the influence is increased to Class B any time the state pleads and proves a defendant was convicted of: (1) a prior OUI homicide, or (2) a prior Class B or Class C OUI under the current Maine OUI statute, 29-A M.R.S.A. §2411, or its predecessor, 29 M.R.S.A. §1312-B. Ever since September 28, 2011, there has been no limit on the age of a prior OUI homicide conviction that can be used to increase the punishment category for a new OUI to Class B. However, for conduct committed prior to August 1, 2014, any prior Class B or C OUI conviction used to increase punishment for a new OUI charge cannot precede the new conduct by more than 10 years. Effective for conduct committed on or after August 1, 2014, there will no longer be any limit on the age of a prior Class B or Class C OUI conviction used to increase punishment for a new OUI. In other words, anyone who was ever convicted of a Class B or C OUI, under the current Maine OUI statute or its predecessor, may be prosecuted for a Class B OUI if they drive under the influence on or after August 1, 2014, regardless how long ago the prior Class B or C OUI conviction occurred. This amounts to a lifetime look-back period for anyone who was previously convicted of a felony OUI in Maine. The clear message from the State of Maine is: “Do not go there again.”
MAINE OUI CHANGES EFFECTIVE 8/1/14.