Articles Posted in DUI

The year 2020 was one that several generations of Americans will never forget. High stress, bereavement, domestic togetherness and spending more time at our homes that ever before has contributed to more family violence crimes, motor vehicle accidents and driving under the influence.

Sales of alcohol, drugs and CBD products escalated. Depression, stress, and the desire to calm down led many to imbibe and to use prescribed medication or other sources of relief to get through the past year.

Research shows that the number of OUI-DUI-DWI cases involving drug use across America has increased. In addition, two recent US Supreme Court cases, Missouri v. McNeely in 2013 and Birchfield v. North Dakota in 2016 have clarified when and how blood extractions for implied consent purposes are proper.

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Written by Intern Nicole Williamson, UMaine Law

It’s that time of year again, and alcohol plays as big a part in the festivities of the season as stockings and candy canes. But before you get boozy celebrating the end of 2020 (finally!) you should make sure you have a designated driver or alternative travel plans. Every year, Maine sees an uptick in OUI arrests during the holiday season. The best way to avoid an OUI is, of course, to avoid drinking and driving. Still, even folks who have the best intentions can get caught up in the holiday spirit and end up buzzed behind the wheel.

I Got Pulled Over…Now What?    

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?

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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.

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?

IMG_1832x-286x300By: Attorney Vincent S. LoConte

What is the question?

Often in a traffic stop when an officer suspects impairment, they will ask the question “on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being sober and 10 being pass out drunk, how would you rate yourself”. Seems like a straight forward question, but is it really fair, and is there a right and wrong answer?

blood-test-warrantsLast month I spoke in Freeport at a seminar for lawyers on the topic of defending OUI cases in Maine. Part of the lecture I gave concerned a 2013 United States Supreme Court case called Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S.Ct. 1552. McNeely is a Fourth Amendment search warrant case dealing with nonconsensual blood testing in drunk-driving cases.

Tyler McNeely was stopped by a state trooper for speeding and crossing the centerline. After performing poorly on the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, he declined a portable breath test and was arrested for OUI. At the station, he refused to take a breath test and was subsequently transported to the hospital for a blood draw. He did not consent to have his blood drawn, nor did the officer attempt to secure a search warrant. Nevertheless, his blood was subsequently drawn, which alleged a high blood alcohol content.

I will save you the procedural history, but it’s safe to say that on appeal, the Missouri state prosecutors went for a broad, sweeping rule of law that would allow police officers to draw blood under any circumstance, without a warrant or without the consent of the person arrested. They refused to try finding a middle ground; they wanted it all their way.

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The Supreme Court recently decided a case Missouri v. McNeely, 567 U.S. ____ (2012) holding that police officers cannot normally conduct blood-alcohol tests without a warrant. After being stopped by a police officer for speeding and crossing the centerline the officer noticed several signs that McNeely was intoxicated, including McNeely’s bloodshot eyes, his slurred speech, and the smell of alcohol on his breath.

McNeely admitted to the officer that he had consumed “a couple of beers” at a bar, and he appeared unsteady on his feet when he exited the truck. The officer conducted field sobriety tests on McNeely who performed poorly on the tests and declined to use a portable breath-test device to measure his blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

The officer then placed him under arrest and transported McNeely to a nearby hospital for blood testing. Upon arrival at the hospital, the officer asked McNeely whether he would consent to a blood test. Reading from a standard implied consent form, the officer explained to McNeely that under state law refusal to submit voluntarily to the test would lead to the immediate revocation of his driver’s license for one year and could be used against him in a future prosecution.

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The author of one of the greatest home runs in baseball history, thirty-seven years ago Sunday, was arrested for DUI/OUI/DWI on Monday, October 24th. Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk, a god to Red Sox fans like me after his homerun in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, was arrested in New Lenox, Illinois, refused to take a breath test and had an open bottle of vodka in the truck which was located in a cornfield.

If you are sitting in your vehicle in the middle of a cornfield and are charged with DWI/OUI/DUI here in Maine, you need to consult with a lawyer to help defend your case. How will the DAs Office prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt? Operation of a motor vehicle is an element of the crime that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Was there actual operation? Did the driver admit to operation? In Maine, operation requires a person to either have power or attempt to put power to the wheels. 29-A M.R.S. § 2401(6); State v. Sullivan 146 ME 381 (1951). Is the vehicle in park, or was it in gear with the driver’s foot on the brake?

How will the government overcome the subsequent drinking issue? If there is an open bottle of liquor in the vehicle with the driver, how will they prove that any alcohol onboard the driver wasn’t consumed post-accident? Do they even know how long the driver was sitting in the cornfield?

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