Maine OUI Attorney

OUI is a crime that involves operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants or while having an alcohol level of .08% or more.

In states other than Maine, the crime is typically designated DUI or driving under the influence.  In Maine, there is no requirement that the motor vehicle must be operated on a public way.  The crime can even be committed by driving under the influence on private property.

Operate

The term “operate” means to either engage the transmission, so as to direct power to the wheels of a motor vehicle or to attempt to do so.

In other words, the crime of operating under the influence is completed when a person who is under the influence or has an alcohol level of .08% or more attempts to operate a motor vehicle.

Motor Vehicle

In general, the term “motor vehicle” is defined as any self-propelled vehicle that is not operated exclusively on railroad tracks.

There are certain exceptions.   For instance, by specific definition, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles are not motor vehicles.

Still, a person who operates an all-terrain vehicle on a public way while under the influence or with an alcohol level of .08% or more is subject to the OUI law.

Under the Influence/Excessive Alcohol Level

A person is “under the influence” when that person’s senses are impaired to some degree by intoxicants.  Intoxicants include alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs and any other substance that is capable of impairing a person’s safe operation of a motor vehicle.

If a person’s mental or physical faculties are impaired by a prescription drug, it is not a defense that the source of impairment was prescribed.

If it is proven that a person had an alcohol level of .08% or more at the time of operation, it is not necessary for the state to prove the person was also, in fact, under the influence. By definition, a person has an alcohol level of .08% or more if the person has an alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath.

OUI Penalties in Maine

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First OUI Offense In 10 Years

  • This is a Class D (misdemeanor) crime, carrying a minimum mandatory $500.00 fine and a license suspension of 150. First-offenders are allowed the chance to become reinstated early with an installed ignition interlock device.   Early reinstatement with an ignition interlock device is available (provided all other reinstatement conditions have been met) after the person has served 30 days of the suspension term.   Whether for a first or subsequent offense, to be reinstated early with an installed ignition interlock device, the person must first have met all DEEP requirements, must have paid his or her reinstatement fee, and must have paid a $50.00 administrative fee in addition to the reinstatement fee.   Early reinstatement with an ignition interlock device is available on a first-offense non-refusal administrative suspension and on a suspension for conviction of OUI.  However, to become eligible for early, ignition interlock reinstatement on a first-offense administrative suspension, the person must first serve 30 days of the suspension term off the road.  If the person elects to apply for a work-restricted license on the first offense administrative suspension, none of the time served on a work-restricted license will count toward the 30 days that must be served before the person becomes eligible for ignition interlock reinstatement.  The interplay between  administrative suspensions, court-ordered suspensions, work-restricted licenses on administrative suspensions, and ignition interlock reinstatement on administrative and court suspensions is complicated.  Effectively navigating that complexity requires a careful assessment of each person’s individual circumstances.
  • The following aggravating factors also require imposition of a jail term of at least 48 hours:  (1) an alcohol test result of .15% or more; (2) speed 30 or more miles per hour over the limit; (3) eluding or attempting to elude a police officer; and (4) operating with a passenger under age 21.
  •  Failure or refusal to complete a test for alcohol level or drugs increases the mandatory minimum fine to $600.00 and the mandatory minimum jail sentence to 96 hours.

Second Offense In 10 years

  • This is a Class D (misdemeanor) crime, carrying mandatory minimum penalties of a $700.00 fine, 7 days in jail, a 3-year suspension of the right to operate motor vehicles and a suspension of the right to register motor vehicles in Maine.   Early reinstatement with an installed ignition interlock device is available after the person has served 9 months of the suspension term.
  • Failure or refusal to complete a test for alcohol level or drugs increases the mandatory minimum fine to $900.00 and the mandatory minimum jail sentence to 12 days.

Third Offense In 10 years

  • This is a Class C (felony) crime, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, 2 years of probation and a $5,000.00 maximum fine. It carries mandatory minimum penalties of a $1,100.00 fine, 30 days in jail, a 6-year suspension of the right to drive and a suspension of the right to register motor vehicles in Maine.  Early reinstatement is available with an installed ignition interlock device after 3 years of the suspension term has been served.
  • Failure or refusal to complete a test for alcohol or drugs increases the mandatory minimum fine to $1,400.00 and the mandatory minimum jail sentence to 40 days.

Fourth or Subsequent Offense In 10 years

  • This is a Class C (felony) crime, carrying mandatory minimums of a $2,100.00 fine, 6 months in jail and suspension of the right to register motor vehicles in Maine.   The license suspension is for 8 years, with a chance to become reinstated after 4 years with an installed ignition interlock device.  
  •  Failure or refusal to complete a test for alcohol or drugs increases the mandatory minimum fine to $2,500.00 and the mandatory minimum jail sentence to 6 months and 20 days.

Additional Aggravating Factor, Passenger Under Age 21

  • Having a passenger under age 21 while operating under the influence adds an extra 275-day license suspension.

OUI Involving Causation of Serious Bodily Injury

  • OUI involving serious bodily injury to another is a Class C crime.  The crime carries mandatory penalties of at least 6 months in jail, at least a $2,100.00 fine and a 6-year suspension of the right to drive motor vehicles in Maine.   A person is eligible for early reinstatement with an installed ignition interlock device after 3 years of the suspension term has been served.  The maximum penalties are 5 years in prison, a $5,000.00 fine and 2 years of probation.

OUI Involving Causation of Death and OUI Committed After Conviction of Manslaughter Or Class C OUI

  • OUI involving death and OUI committed after the offender was previously convicted of vehicular manslaughter or Class C OUI are Class B offenses, carrying mandatory penalties of at least 6 months in jail, at least a $2,100.00 fine and a 10-year suspension of the right to drive motor vehicles in Maine.  The maximum penalties are 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine and 3 years of probation.

What To Expect: Maine OUI Procedures

What Happens When You Are Charged With OUI? – Maine OUI Procedures

A person who is charged with OUI can expect to face legal proceedings in court for the crime of operating under the influence and an entirely independent administrative license suspension proceeding before the Secretary of State, Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

  • For those who complete a test to determine their alcohol level or the presence and concentration of drugs in their blood or urine, the time that they serve on an administrative suspension will automatically be credited to the suspension they receive for a conviction of OUI in court.
  • For those who fail or refuse to take or complete such a test, however, the suspension that will be imposed in court for conviction of OUI must run consecutively to —after—the administrative suspension.

When a person completes an alcohol or drug test, the length of administrative suspension parallels the length of the court suspension for the related OUI charge.

For example, if the person has one prior OUI conviction within 10 years, both the court and administrative suspensions will be 3 years long and, again, credit will be given toward the court suspension for time served on the administrative suspension.

The duration of a refusal suspension is based on the number of prior refusal suspensions the person received in the previous 10 years, as follows:

  1. no prior refusal suspensions, 9 months;
  2. one prior refusal suspension, 18 months;
  3. two prior refusal suspensions, 3 years;
  4. three prior refusal suspensions, 6 years.

Again, the court-ordered suspension for conviction of an OUI charge must be consecutive to the associated refusal suspension so, for example, a third offense OUI with an associated second refusal suspension within 10 years results in a total suspension term of 18 months (for the refusal) plus 6 years (for the OUI conviction).

Will You Be Allowed To Drive After You Are Charged With OUI?

A person who is charged with OUI may continue to drive until the person is either:

  1. suspended administratively; or
  2. suspended by a court upon conviction.

Typically, the administrative suspension process occurs first.  The person will receive a notice of a suspension from the BMV, setting forth the effective date of license suspension.

If the person does not respond, the suspension will simply go into effect on that date and will continue until it is served.

The suspension notice informs the person of the right to request a hearing, and that to secure a hearing the request must be made within 10 days of the suspension date.  If the person is alleged to have failed or refused to take an alcohol or drug test, the person’s suspension becomes effective on the date stated in the notice and stays in effect unless the person prevails at the administrative hearing.

In other words, in a test refusal case the person will not be allowed to drive between the suspension date stated in the notice and the date of the hearing.  The sole exception to this applies if state continues a hearing, at which point the BMV places a stay in effect until the hearing takes place.

If the person completes a test for alcohol or drug level and makes a timely hearing request, once the request is received a stay of suspension is placed in effect, allowing the person to continue to drive until the hearing takes place.

If the person must, for whatever reason, request a continuance of a scheduled hearing, the stay of suspension will be removed at that point and the suspension will go into effect pending hearing.

Can You Get A Work License?

A person may apply for a work-restricted license on a first offense administrative suspension only (not on a suspension for conviction of OUI), but only if the person completed a test to determine alcohol or drug level and has not been under suspension for an OUI offense at any time within the previous 10 years.

So, if it is your first OUI within 10 years (meaning you have no convictions of OUI and no suspensions for a test refusal within that time frame), you may apply for a license to allow you to drive, solely for work purposes, during your administrative suspension period.

Work restricted licenses are ordinarily granted in these circumstances unless you had a very high (.20% or more) alcohol test result.   You should be aware that if you are convicted of OUI in court you will not receive credit on the court suspension for any administrative suspension time during which you had a work-restricted license.

If you are alleged to have refused a test or if you have any prior OUI convictions or test refusals within the previous 10 years, you may not apply for a work-restricted license.

A person may never apply for a work restricted license on a suspension resulting from for OUI conviction.

However, if the person has no OUI convictions or suspensions for a test refusal within the previous 10 years, and if the person has met DEEP (substance abuse and evaluation/counseling) requirements for license reinstatement and has paid his or her reinstatement fee before the 100-day mark of the 150-day suspension period, the BMV will automatically issue a work restricted license to cover the last 50 days of the suspension period.

In the case of a first refusal suspension within 10 years, combined with a first OUI conviction within 10 years, if the person has completed DEEP and paid the reinstatement fee within the first 6 months of the refusal suspension, the BMV will automatically issue a work-restricted license to cover the last third of the total suspension term for the combined suspensions.

What About Early Reinstatement to Drive With an Ignition Interlock Device?

As detailed on the “OUI Penalties in Maine” section of this site, in certain circumstances a person may be reinstated to drive before the entire suspension period has been served, with an installed ignition interlock device.

To become reinstated to drive early under this condition, the person must first:

(1) serve the minimum amount of suspension time prescribed for the particular OUI offense as a predicate to ignition interlock reinstatement;
(2) meet DEEP requirements;
(3) pay a $50.00 reinstatement fee;
(4) apply and be approved for ignition interlock reinstatement;
(5) pay an administrative fee of $50.00, in addition to the reinstatement fee; and
(6) have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her vehicle.  Failure to meet any one of these requirements will result in the person not being reinstated to drive early with an installed ignition interlock device.

The petition for ignition interlock device reinstatement and links to information on vendors approved to install and maintain ignition interlock devices in Maine are available here:   http://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/licenses/iid.html

Maine OUI Law: Ed Wrote The Book

Maine OUI Law

The revised, 2018 edition of Ed’s book, Maine OUI Law is now available.  The first edition was published in September of 2011 as a legal guide for Maine attorneys who practice OUI law.

The book pulls together, in one place, case citations and summaries, statutes and rules that bear on issues Maine lawyers commonly come across handling OUI cases in Maine.  It deals with the issues in the order they typically arise.

The 2018 edition incorporates statutory changes and significant Maine and U.S. Supreme Court cases decided since publication of the last three editions.

Buy Now Online:

From the publisher or on Amazon.com.

Or buy directly from the author by mailing a check or money order in the amount of $47.00 (includes shipping and tax), to Edmund Folsom, Esq., P.O. Box 2100, Biddeford, ME 04005.

Here’s what others had to say about the 2011 edition of Maine OUI Law:

“I can’t imagine how anyone would consider handling OUI cases in Maine without it…So, buy this book.”

Walter “Woody” Hanstein, Esq., Farmington, Maine.

“Ed Folsom’s book is the single best source for Maine case and statutory law relating to
OUI defense that I have come across.”

Scott D. Gardner, Esq., Biddeford, Maine

Maine’s Driver’s License Suspensions, Revocations and Related Offenses

Maine's Driver's License Suspensions, Revocations and Related Offenses

Ed’s second book, Maine Driver’s License Suspensions, Revocations and Related Offenses (non-OUI) was first published in December of 2012.  The 2016 edition is now available.  

The book is intended to run a thread through Maine statutes, rules and cases dealing with suspensions and revocations of driver’s licenses and related criminal offenses, and to assist attorneys by clearing up some of the confusion surrounding the interplay of court actions and actions of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in this area.

Buy Now Online, From the publisher or on Amazon.com

Here’s What’s Been Said About Both Books:

“I highly recommend these excellent books for criminal defense practitioners, both inexperienced AND experienced.”

Walt McKee, Esq., Augusta, Maine

Every Maine attorney whose caseload includes OUI and motor vehicle offenses should have a copy of Maine OUI Law and Maine Driver’s License Suspensions, Revocations and Related Offenses (non-OUI). Ed does a great job of untangling the web of Maine motor vehicle laws and in explaining those laws in a way that benefits both the novice and seasoned practitioner.  From practice tips on charge bargaining, to providing extensive case cites and statute references that will strengthen motion practice, to providing the reader with a greater understanding about the interplay between administrative suspensions and court suspensions, Ed covers it all. Both books have a user-friendly index that allows the reader to get the information they need in a short amount of time. Purchasing Ed’s books has been by far one of the best investments in legal secondary sources that I have made to date.”

Amber Tucker, Esq., Lewiston, Maine