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police-sirens-300x201By: Webb Law Intern Ronahn Clarke

OUI roadblocks are checkpoints where police officers stop every vehicle—or a certain number of vehicles at random—to search for intoxicated drivers. They appear more frequently around holidays.

 
Are OUI Roadblocks Constitutional?

https-www-webblawmaine-com-wp-content-uploads-20-300x133-1In Maine, many think that if your breathalyzer test comes back under .08, then you have passed the test and are free to go. This is not usually the case. This is because the law in Maine states that at the time of operation, a person had a breath or blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more or, were under the influence of intoxicants.

Impaired to the Slightest Degree

To be under the influence in Maine is to have your mental or physical faculties impaired however slightly or to any extent by intoxicants. This means that if you blow a .07 and the officer thinks that you are impaired slightly, you can be charged with an OUI. Not having the .08 breath test to fall back on makes the case much harder to prove for the State, but they can still use the officer’s observations to try to prove that you were impaired while operating. If you were to do poorly on your roadside tests, the officer may use that as evidence of impairment. This becomes a problem if your balance was effected by something other than intoxicants such as an injury or even the weather.  Even if the case is much more challenging to prove for the State, charges for OUI with tests under .08 are not uncommon.

IMG_1832x-286x300In Maine, your income makes no difference in how much your ticket will cost. The fine scale is predetermined and applies evenly to everyone, which seems reasonable. But is it really fair? That all depends on who you are and how much money you make. For some, a speeding ticket could be devastating and for others, it could be nothing more than a slight annoyance.

Lets say that you are driving on the interstate with a speed limit of 60MPH and you get a ticket for going 75MPH. The cost for this tickets will likely be around $200. According to datausa.io, the median household income in Maine is around $55,000 a year. That means that this ticket would be 4.36% of your household income for the month. This would perhaps be a difficult hit, but at the end of the day, would not be the end of the world. It would probably be a good incentive to be more careful and to drive slower in the future. This is exactly the hope of the law makers who set the fee scale for the ticket.

But now lets say that the NFL commissioner gets the same $200 ticket while he is at vacation house in Maine. His income, according to USA Today, is around $40,000,000 a year. That would mean the same ticket would be 0.006% of his monthly income. That type of punishment would be the equivalent of the person making $55,000 a year getting a ticket for around 28 Cents. Is there really any incentive there to follow the speed limit? There are other penalties such as possible license suspension that come with enough points on your license. But if your income is high enough, paying a driver a full time salary would be a realistic option. That is obviously not an alternative for the average Mainer.

police-search-768x512-1-300x200What is an illegal stop?

If the police illegally stop you, then there is a chance your case could be thrown out! The problem is that the police can stop you for so many things. In order for a stop to be legal, the police only need articulable suspicion that a crime or traffic infraction has occurred. That means the list of reasons the police can use to justify a stop is very long. You can be stopped for anything from improper tinted windows to driving one mile per hour over the speed limit.

Once you are stopped for any legal reason, if the officer finds more evidence of a totally different crime, such as an odor of alcohol or slurred speech, then the investigation can turn into something completely separate from the reason for the stop. You could be stopped for going 5 miles per hour over the speed limit and then it could turn into a drinking and driving investigation.

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Temporary order

The first thing you need to be aware of is if there is a temporary order in place when you are served the order. A temporary protection order takes effect as soon as it is signed by a judge. However, the defendant must have actual notice of the temporary order, or have been served with the order, in order to be charged with a crime for violating it. Even if you feel that the allegations are false and the case is eventually found in your favor, the temporary order still must be respected or you could face criminal charges. For example, if the temporary order prohibits you from entering a home you shared with the plaintiff, you will be charged with a crime if you enter the house, even if the plaintiff has invited you. Violation of a temporary protection order is a Class D crime that carries penalties of up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

Difference between harassment and abuse order

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There is no easy answer here. It depends on your situation and why you got the ticket. When we talk about tickets in this blog, we mean civil traffic violations such as failure to signal, speeding (under 30MPH over the speed limit), failure to stop at a stop sign, and other minor traffic infractions. We are not referring to more serious criminal driving charges like Operating Under the Influence, Criminal Speeding (over 30MPH over the speed limit), or Illegally Passing a School Bus. For any criminal charge, you should always have an attorney.

If you have a Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL), drive for a living, or have any concern that the ticket could cause you to lose your license, you should absolutely speak with an attorney. Any person whose driving record shows an accumulation of 12 demerit points for convictions or adjudications within a one year period may have his or her license, permit or privilege to operate suspended for a period of up to 15 days.

Here is a short list of examples of some of the demerit point values for common traffic tickets:

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Do Police Have to Read You Your Rights?

Police have an obligation to read you your Miranda warnings before conducting a custodial interrogation. An interrogation means that the questions are designed to elicit an incriminating response. Meaning, routine questions such as what your name is, your address, and your date of birth are not considered to be interrogative. However, arrests can occur without a reading of Miranda as long as no incriminating questions are being asked of you. But, if police choose to interrogate you at any time after arresting you, your rights must be read to you before any questioning occurs.

In addition to being interrogated, you also must be in police custody in order for the Miranda laws to apply. Custody means that your freedom of action must be deprived in some way. Maine courts have traditionally held that an interrogation is custodial if a reasonable person in your shoes would have felt that he or she was not at liberty to end the interrogation and leave. Being in custody may mean that you are in handcuffs, in a police cruiser, at the police station, or other similar scenarios where you are not free to leave at your own will. But ultimately, there are many factors that are considered by courts in determining whether you were truly in police custody, which is why consulting with an attorney can be important.

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After getting an OUI/DUI in Maine, there is often lots of questions that may come into your mind.  Most of them have answers that can be found.  One that is much harder to track down is the costs and fees that come from an OUI in Maine.

Court Costs

A first offense OUI is a Class D crime, which has a maximum jail sentence of 364 days, and a maximum fine of $2,000.  The mandatory minimum penalties are a fine of $500, plus court fees. Court costs often change due to added surcharges which are 20% or more of the actual fine amount, therefore the $500 fine really ends up being closer to $650. If you refused to submit to a test, you will then face a mandatory minimum fine of $600 plus the 20% or more  surcharge so the fine would be around $785.

best-criminal-lawyer-400x284-1-300x213What Charges Affect Student Loans?

If you have been charged with a violation, you are probably wondering where else this charge may affect you, other than with the law. One area that you may be affected is through schooling. If you are incarcerated, you would have limited eligibility for the federal student aid program. But once you are released, many of those limitations are removed. There are, however, a few charges that limit your aid eligibility even after being released.

If you are receiving or applying for federal student aid, there is a chance that past criminal charges may affect you. For instance, the FAFSA, a form used by many college students to apply for federal financial aid for college or graduate school, will ask whether you have had a drug conviction for an offense that occurred while receiving aid. If your answer to this question is “yes,” you will be provided with a worksheet to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. This does not necessarily mean that you are entirely ineligible to receive federal funding, but it may mean that you are ineligible for a certain period of time.

dui_seminar-300x225When will I get the report?

Many people put in requests for their police reports and expect them within a few days of their arrest. Even though they are YOUR reports, it is unrealistic for the officer and the PD to get them out to you that quickly. You will most likely not get any reports until your first court date when you have your arraignment. Unfortunately, this is often several weeks and sometimes up to two months after your arrest.

How should I read the report?

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