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What is a DUI and an OUI in Maine?

A drinking and driving offense is punishable under the Motor Vehicles and Traffic Code in Maine. Upon arrest by an officer of the Maine State Police, the offender faces administrative sanctions from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The Maine judiciary also imposes statutory penalties after a court hearing. These agencies involved in the indictment and adjudication of offenders make OUI conviction records available to interested persons.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and an OUI in Maine?

DUI, i.e., Driving Under Influence is a colloquial term for drunk driving. The appropriate term is OUI (Operating Under Influence) as defined in M. R. S. 29-A §2411. Per the law, a person is guilty of OUI if he/she operates a vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicant. Having a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more in the blood or breath while operating a vehicle is also an indictable offense. The state has zero-tolerance for intoxication in younger drivers and the alcohol level is much lower at 0.02% or more.

What happens when you get an OUI for the First Time in Maine?

Upon arrest for OUI, the arresting officer sends the incident report and record of the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to the office of the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State then orders an immediate suspension of the driver’s license, even before a court hearing. The offender gets an arraignment date after which he/she goes to trial.  

Generally, a first-time OUI is a class D misdemeanor. If found guilty, such an individual faces a minimum fine of $500, a court-ordered license suspension for 150 days, and a minimum jail time of 48 hours. The penalty increases with aggravating factors such as refusal to submit to a test and eluding a police officer (M. R. S. 29-A §2411(5)).. The offender may also have to complete a Driver Education and Evaluation Programs (DEEP) and a driving dynamics course. Other penalties include installation of an ignition interlock and submission to a substance abuse treatment program. 

An offender may contest an OUI charge if he/she wishes. Generally, the offender will need an experienced attorney, who represents him/her and arranges a plea bargain with the prosecution. If getting a plea bargain fails, the lawyer will file a series of motions to dismiss based on the admissibility of the evidence that indicts the defendant for OUI. The defense may also question the accuracy of the test equipment and the officer’s authorization to administer the test.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First OUI in Maine?

Not likely. An OUI without aggravating factors places the offender liable to civil sanctions and pecuniary fines. However, M. R. S. 29-A §2411(5) mandates a minimum jail term of 48 hours for OUI offenders with aggravating factors such as test refusal and child endangerment. This minimum jail time increases with aggravating circumstances are surrounding the offense.

What are the Typical Penalties for an OUI Conviction in Maine?

The typical penalties for OUI in Maine include:

  • Demerit Points: In addition to indicting the driver for OUI, the authorized will also award demerit points against the driver’s license based on traffic violations while driving intoxicated. Accumulating twelve (12) points in one (1) year attracts license suspension in Maine.
  • License Suspension: The imposition of this penalty is immediately following an indictment for OUI. The minimum period of license suspension may last for 150 days or up to eight (8) years, depending on aggravating circumstances, such as test refusal and habitual offense.
  • Fines: The minimum court fine for an OUI conviction in Maine is between $500 - $2550, depending on aggravating circumstances such as test refusal and habitual offense.
  • Ignition interlock device: This penalty typically applies to drivers adjudged to have a drinking problem. The court orders the offender to install an ignition interlock device, which prevents a driver from driving if he/she fails a breath test. The offender bears the cost of installation and maintenance. 
  • Insurance surcharge: Often, offenders guilty of aggravated OUI must show proof of financial responsibility by filing SR–22 insurance.
  • Driver Education and Evaluation Program: All impaired drivers in Maine must complete DEEP by court order.
  • Jail: The minimum jail time for OUI in Maine ranges from 48 hours to more than six (6) months, depending on aggravating circumstances like test refusal and habitual offense.

How Long Does an OUI Stay on Your Record in Maine?

A DWI conviction stays on the offender’s record for life, but demerit points only remain on the driving license for one (1) year. Maine laws do not allow for the expungement of OUI convictions. Thus, records of the conviction are available to interested persons through the official custodians, i.e., driving records from the BMV, court records from the judiciary, and criminal records from the State Police.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching for records simpler, as geographic locations do not limit their activities. Thus, the search engines on third-party sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or persons involved in the case. These include information such as the city, county, or state of residence or accusation.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not government-sponsored. Consequently, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Find OUI Checkpoints in Maine?

OUI checkpoints are legal in Maine. Interested persons may perform a simple web search to find active checkpoints in the state.

What is an Aggravated OUI in Maine?

An aggravated OUI in Maine refers to operating a car while intoxicated with one or more of the following factors:

  • a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.15% or more
  • driving 30 mph or more over the speed limit
  • eluding a police officer
  • having an underage passenger, i.e., less than 21 years old

The punishment for aggravated OUI depends on the nature of the aggravating factors. Generally, the offender faces a minimum of 48 hours in jail, 180 days of license suspension, and $500 fines. The severity of the penalties increases with subsequent offenses, per a chart by the Bureau of Highway Safety.

What Happens When You Get an OUI in Maine?

Every driver indicted for OUI in Maine faces immediate license suspension and arraignment in court. The court process may be a bench trial or jury trial. Upon conviction, the judge shall impose the applicable sanctions. The offender is also subject to administrative sanctions from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which run concurrently with the court penalties.

In imposing these penalties, the court considers aggravating and mitigating factors such as safe driving history and impairment due to existing medical conditions. These mitigating factors are also useful in the driver’s defense and arriving at a plea bargain with the prosecution. As the prosecution must prove an OUI, challenging the admissibility of evidence is a viable defense. Conversely, if there is bodily injury involved, the prosecution must provide proof. Ultimately, having an experienced attorney is key to challenging an OUI charge in Maine.   

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