When it comes to driving under the influence, many Maine DUI penalties and consequences need to be considered. 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, and then members of the public start shortening the crime to the acronym.
In some states, driving while impacted by drugs or alcohol carries an OUI charge, meaning Operating Under the Influence. 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.
OUI Law in Maine: Felony vs Misdemeanor
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. This article may help you navigate the days ahead.
What Qualifies As an OUI Offense in Maine?
One of the first tests a police officer will perform when pulling you over for a traffic charge, and then observing evidence of a suspected OUI offense, will be a portable breathalyzer. These non-evidentiary devices are optional and voluntary, but most drivers do not know that they can decline this hand-held test without suffering any penalty.
After arrest, if your forensic DUI test shows a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 grams percent or higher, the police officer will seek to convict you of OUI for being “over the legal limit.” At court, the prosecutor must prove that you were operating (or trying to operate) a moving vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication.
While some states have DUI or DWI laws that penalize differently based on the intoxicant in your bloodstream, Maine isn’t one of them. If you’re under the influence of any intoxicant that alters your ability, the criminal offense is an OUI charge.
This means that you’ll face the same outcome if you’re drunk, stoned, high, or even taking too much of your own doctor-prescribed medicine. The goal of Maine OUI laws is to stop dangerous drivers from injuring or killing others. Those that huff gasoline fumes, sniff glue or smoke weed to excess face the same type of prosecution.
Understanding the specifics of OUI Maine law can help guide you.
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.
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, and 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.
Penalties: OUI Felonies in Maine for Repeat Offenses
The first time you’re charged with an OUI first offense, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Vehicular Manslaughter in Maine
If you’re operating a vehicle under the influence and cause a crash that kills another person or persons, the crime is automatically considered a felony in Maine, even for a DUI first offense.
Manslaughter is a Class A felony, meaning that it is the highest rank of crime in the state — and one of the most consequential. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your car accident, you could face up to 30 years in state prison and pay out $25,000 in fines.
The Impact of a Felony Charge
In addition to the money, time, and loss of driving privileges you’ll lose after a felony conviction, you could also do major damage to your reputation and professional future.
Typically, a person is required to disclose their felony OUI Maine conviction on any future job applications, where it could make a tremendous impact in your hiring potential. You could also lose welfare benefits, your right to buy guns or to use firearms, and more for conviction of a DUI Maine.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you’re convicted of an OUI offense, you’re not alone. An attorney can help you understand your rights, process any required paperwork, and represent you in court.
Understanding your next steps is critical as you begin to process the charge and plan for your future.
When you need legal representation, it’s best to hire an OUI attorney who understands your state-specific laws and regulations, so there’s no guesswork involved. These teams are also critical in helping you understand the local court system, as they are familiar with cases just like yours.
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 has been a licensed criminal defense attorney in the state of Maine for over a quarter century. He and his two skilled associates, Katherine Campbell and Vincent LoConte, are well-versed in Maine OUI laws.
Get a FREE lawyer consultation in Portland or Saco MAINE from one of our law office attorneys. Our law firm can help you maneuver through these critical early stages after arrest. You need an experienced Maine criminal defense attornehy. For more details on the Maine OUI statute, click on the hyperlink in this sentence.
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.