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.   If, however, the person completes a test for alcohol or drug level and makes a timely hearing request, once the request is received a stay will be placed on the suspension, allowing the person to continue to drive until the hearing date.   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.    On the other hand, if a person is suspended for a refusal and the officer requests a continuance of the hearing date, a stay will be placed on the suspension at that point, allowing the person to drive again until the hearing is held.

Can You Get A Work License?

A person may apply for a work restricted license on a first offense administrative suspension only, 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 court suspension for OUI.   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” page 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

See related topic Maine Ignition Interlock Device Vendors & Installers, for location and cost information:  https://edfolsomlaw.com/2014/11/maine-ignition-interlock-device-vendors-installers/