No matter how much fun the night may be, you don’t want to end up on the business end of Maine OUI laws.
In 2012 alone, 7,014 people were arrested on OUI charges in Maine.
Don’t end up on the wrong side of the law. Here are the top seven things you need to know about OUI laws in Maine.
1. Know the Maine OUI Laws
Before anything else, you need to know what the laws contain.
Maine OUI laws state that if you are caught operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher, you can be charged with Operating Under the Influence (OUI), also called Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
Once you’ve been busted, the consequences are quick to kick in. Let’s break it down.
2. Know the Consequences
Like we said: you don’t want to be on the business end of Maine’s OUI laws.
Once you’ve been arrested for an OUI, based solely on the police report and your BAC results, the Secretary of State will suspend your license, effective immediately.
As in, before your court date even happens.
Regardless of specific penalties, all OUI charges result in the following:
- A criminal record
- Fines of up to $7,000
- Legal charges if someone else was injured
Long story short: it’s a long, ugly legal process with a steep price tag. Don’t stick yourself in a bad situation unnecessarily.
3. Know the Penalties Based on Offense
Specific penalties after your court date will vary based on whether this is your first OUI offense or not. Your level of offense also changes whether an OUI qualifies as a felony.
Let’s break it down.
In other words, if you have no prior OUI offenses on your record or no OUI offenses within the previous ten years.
You’re looking at three things: a fine, suspension, and jail time.
The fine will be either $500 or $600 (depending on whether you agreed to do the drug test), plus 20% surcharge, a $30 OUI surcharge, and a $10 contribution to the victim’s fund.
You’ll have 48 hours in the county jail if any of the following:
- You had a BAC of .15% or more
- You eluded an officer
- You were speeding 30 mph over the limit
- You had a passenger under 21
If you failed to submit to the drug test, you’ll spend 96 hours in county jail.
And on top of all of that, you’re looking at a 90-day license suspension.
If it’s your second offense, things are going to get messier.
You’re facing a fine of $700 plus surcharges, or $900 if you refused the drug test.
You’ll also see 30 days in the county jail (or 90, if you refused the test).
Finally, you’ll have an 18-month suspension of your license without eligibility for work-restricted status.
Unsurprisingly, it only gets worse the more offenses you have.
If this is your third offense, you’ll have a fine of $1,100 plus surcharges, or $1,400 if you refused the drug test.
You’ll be getting comfortable in the county jail, too–30 days in county lockup, 40 for refusing the test.
Finally, your license will be suspended under court order for four years.
Fourth or More Offense
In other words, you’re in hot water.
The fine at this level is $2,100 ($2,500 for refusing the test). And as for the county jail, you need to get cozy, because you’ll spend six months there (or, if you refused the test, six months and twenty days). Finally, if that wasn’t bad enough, your license is suspended for six years.
4. Know the Ins and Outs of BAC
A lot of Maine OUI laws hinge on BAC, which means they’re also connected to chemical tests to check BAC.
A BAC of .08% qualifies you for an OUI charge. However, keep in mind that the drinking age in Maine is 21, so if you’re under 21, your legal BAC is 0% and no higher.
In Maine, police officers are supposed to administer a BAC test, either blood, breath or urine, at the time of driving. However, it is possible for you to be considered legally culpable for an OUI charge if they didn’t administer the test at that time.
5. Know What Implied Consent Means
If you were noticing a significant pattern in the punishments for OUIs, you were right. You get much steeper penalties for refusing a chemical test at the time of arrest.
That’s because of Maine’s implied consent laws. These laws essentially state that driving is a privilege, not a right, which can be taken from you if you drive under the influence or refuse a test.
Under implied consent, you automatically agree to a chemical test of any kind (blood, breath or urine) if authorities have probable cause to administer one.
If you refuse, you can be penalized for violating implied consent.
And, thanks to officer testimony, you can be convicted of an OUI charge without the results of a BAC test.
Remember: if you haven’t done anything wrong, a BAC will prove it. Don’t make things worse for yourself.
6. The Zero Tolerance Law
Remember earlier when we said that your legal BAC is 0% if you’re under 21?
Maine has a special law for you if you’re caught under the influence underage.
Long story short: you’ll lose your license for a year. If you refuse a test, the suspension is at least 18 months. If someone else underage is in the vehicle with you, there’s an additional 180-day suspension tacked on top of that.
Oh, and you can be prosecuted for a criminal offense, regardless of the length of your suspension.
7. Know What Happens in a Fatal Accident
In a fatal accident, slightly different rules apply.
If you’re involved in a fatal accident, you must submit to a BAC test. Failure to do so, regardless of your offense level or BAC, results in an automatic three-year suspension of your license.
And even if you submitted to the BAC test and were found to be operating under the influence, the Secretary of State will impose a three-year license suspension on top of any suspensions acquired for refusing to submit to the test.
And if you’re charged with vehicular homicide, you can face up to 30 years in prison and a permanent loss of your license.
Making Sense of Maine OUI Laws
Maine OUI laws are nothing to joke about. If you find yourself in a bad situation, you need all the legal help you can get.
We serve localities all over Maine in OUI cases including drugs and alcohol. For a free case consultation, head to our contact page and fill out the form to get in touch with us.