OUI Arrests in Maine: Avoiding an OUI Conviction
Most people have heard of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) or DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charges, but what about OUI or OWI? All acronyms for intoxicated driving point to drunk driving or drugged driving.
Each state writes their own statutes for impaired driving. Once published and being discussed by police officers, and mentioned in the news and courtrooms, members of the public start shortening the crime to an acronym. In three states, driving while impacted by drugs or alcohol is expressed with the acronym OUI.
OUI Definition and Its Origins
So, an “OUI case” or “OUI Charge” describes the criminal law statute criminalizing having an intoxicating alcohol level or impairing drug consent within your body. This three-letter acronym (O.U.I.) is short for Operating Under the Influence.
The State of Maine and two other states, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, use this abbreviation. Similarly, OWI stands for Operating While Intoxicated. This is the drunken driving abbreviation used in Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan. Ohio uses OVI which stands for “operating vehicle while intoxicated.” The gist of such laws is to proscribe citizens from endangering the public by having an illegal blood alcohol level or impairing level of drugs.
A simple OUI definition is the motor vehicle crime of impaired driving. This includes drunk driving and drugged driving when you define OUI in the State of Maine.
For the legislators in the Pine Tree State, lawmakers wanted to make clear that operating is more descriptive since the vehicle need not be in MOTION or on a highway for you to be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
OUI Law in Maine: Felony vs Misdemeanor
When it comes to driving under the influence, many Maine DUI penalties and consequences need to be considered. Maine is one of the states that criminalizes impaired driving as an OUI offense. Maine DUI laws are not the toughest in America but are clearly in the top 25% of the most strident states.
Once arrested for OUI in Maine, most citizens quickly discover that being convicted can cause a severe impact on their future. First, the loss of the ability to drive for violating OUI driving laws in Maine is a major problem, due to Maine having few public transportation options. Many of our clients are concerned about whether a DUI is a felony charge.
This article about Maine DUI arrests explores the penalties and consequences of an OUI charge in Maine, and what an accused citizen can expect in court. If you were recently arrested for drunk driving or drug-impaired driving, this article may help you navigate the days ahead.
Maine OUI Laws Explained
As mentioned above, an officer will more than likely issue you a breathalyzer test once you’re pulled over. If the officer on duty suspects that your impairment links to drug or medication abuse rather than strictly alcohol, he or she could also require you (under implied consent law) to perform a blood test or urine test.
Another aspect of DUI-OUI is that ALL states have passed implied consent laws. These statutes impose administrative suspension or revocation (depending on state laws) for anyone who is charged with a refusal to submit to a chemical test of his or her BREATH, BLOOD or URINE, after their arrest for driving intoxicated, so that the State knows the CONTENT of the impairing substance within their body.
The state operates under an Implied Consent Law, which gives officers the right to administer any of these tests when he or she has cause to suspect that you are an impaired driver. Under the law, you’re required to take a blood test if the officer believes that you:
- Caused seriously bodily injury or death because of driving under the influence
- Are under the influence of drugs
If you refuse to take any post-arrest test requested by a law enforcement officer, your driver’s license could be immediately revoked or suspended for a period of up to six years. The length of drivers’ license suspension depends on your prior driving record. This revocation could be imposed under Maine laws even before your first court date.
In addition, the officer’s witness of your behavior could be enough for a court conviction, even without a test confirming your intoxication. You could also face extended jail time for not cooperating, as well as a longer license suspension.
When Is DUI a Felony under Maine Law?
Before we delve into this next part, let’s review how Maine classifies its Maine drunk driving laws. The crime is broken down into misdemeanor or felony charges.
The state of Maine relies on a “Class” system to rank offenses by severity. Classes D and E are the least severe and as such, they usually carry the lowest DUI penalties. On the other hand, Classes C, B, and A are the most serious. A crime becomes a felony as it reaches Class C status.
DUI Penalties For a 1st OUI and Repeat OUI Law Offenses: OUI Felonies in Maine
The first time you’re charged with a first offense OUI, it’s considered a Class D Misdemeanor. You’ll pay a $500 fine and the state of Maine will revoke your driver’s license for 150 days. Plus, 48 hours in custody is a minimum jail time sentence for a first offense DUI.
The second DUI conviction is still classified as a Class D Misdemeanor. However, the fine and jail time for this repeat OUI offense are increased. You will have to pay $700 in fines and spend not fewer than seven days in jail. With any additional aggravating factor in your case, that incarceration time can be increased by the judge far beyond the one week minimum.
These increased punishments are nothing compared to what happens to your right to drive in Maine. You won’t get your operator’s license back for three years. However, OUI laws in Maine were recently amended to permit early, restricted use driver license reinstatement through the Secretary of State’s office by installing an IID (ignition interlock device) after a fixed, minimum number of days without ANY right to drive, for any purpose.
The third time you’re convicted is when an OUI offense becomes a Class C felony. The minimum 3rd DUI penalties you’ll incur are a $1,100 fine, along with spending at least 30 days in jail. Plus, the third DUI offense brings loss of license for seven years this time.
In Maine, the “lookback” period (for counting repeat drunk driving offenses) is 10 years. This means that any OUI charge incurred over the course of a decade in any state counts toward your first offense DUI, second OUI, or third OUI offense.
Need Legal Help After Your OUI Charge? Start Here!
The days following an OUI arrest are confusing, stressful and highly complicated. On one hand, you’re shaken up and scared. At the same time, you’re concerned about your driver’s license, your future and your legal standing in the community.
John Webb is a licensed criminal defense attorney in the state of Maine:
16 Middle St.
Saco, ME 04072
Tel:(207) 283-6400 | Fax:(207) 283-4900
120 Exchange Street
Portland, ME 04101
Tel: (207) 835-7008 | Fax:(207) 283-4900
To get in touch, feel free to call, fax, or email my office today. Let’s tackle this together.