DUI & DWI in Maine
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Drinking can be fun; driving can be fun. Drinking and driving is no fun in Maine, with tough OUI laws that kick in as soon as you're arrested―not convicted―for your first offense (and the consequences get harder from there). Here's a round-up of everything you need to know about the laws and penalties surrounding operating under the influence (OUI) of alcohol or drugs in Maine.
In Maine, you are considered operating while under the influence of alcohol (OUI) if you are found to have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 0.08%. Blood-alcohol content is measured by law enforcement authorities with either a breath analyzer or a blood test.
If you refuse to take a test, your driver's license can be automatically suspended for up to a whopping six years with no hearing. If you haven't been drinking, it's worthwhile to take the test, which can prove you innocent of OUI―as well as guilty.
Maine has stiff penalties that kick in as soon as you are arested for OUI for the first time:
- Upon being arrested for OUI, your license will be immediately suspended. You cannot attempt to get your license back until you face a judge for the first time.
- If you are under 21 years old and are found operating, or attempting to operate, a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in your body, you will lose your license for one year. If you refuse a chemical test, you will lose your license for at least 18 months. If you have a passenger under 21 years of age in the car, an additional 180-day suspension will be imposed.
- If you are convicted of a first offense with no aggravating factors, you will lose your license for 90 days and be fined a mimimum of $400. Aggravating factors include any of the following:
- BAC of 0.15% or more
- Traveling 30 mph or more over the speed limit
- Trying to elude a police officer
- Having a passenger under 21 years of age
- If you have any aggravating factors in your first offense, the judge can add at least 48 hours of jail time to your sentence. If you refuse to be tested for BAC, jail time goes up to 96 hours and the minimum fine goes up to $500, along with an automatic license suspension of 275 days.
- A second OUI offense carries an automatic 18-month suspension of your driver's license, at least seven days in jail, and a $600 minimum fine. Refusing to take a BAC test ups jail time to 12 days and the minimum fine to $800.
- A third OUI offense results in at least a four-year license suspension, 30 days in jail, and a $1,000 fine. Refuse the test, and jail time goes up to 40 days and the fine to $1,300. A fourth offense means a six-year license suspension, six months in jail, and a $2,000 minimum fine. Be aware that the judge can impose fines much higher than this.
OUI Cost to You
Beyond the official penalties, you can expect to pay thousands out of pocket for each OUI offense:
- You'll need a lawyer. For a first offense, this means at least $2,000. Subsequent offenses and trials cost substantially more.
- You'll be paying three years of major auto insurance surcharges at roughly $1,000 per year.
- Add in the cost for bail, towing charges, required alcohol education, and even loss of work time.
In total, Maine's Bureau of Highway Safety puts the cost for your first OUI at around $7,000―assuming there was no accident.
Alcohol is a drug, but so are marijuana, cocaine, LSD, and speed. Anyone caught operating under the influence of drugs can face the same penalties as operating under the influence of alcohol. Law enforcement authorities can detect drugs through blood tests, but cops are also permitted by courts to use personal observations and physical tests as evidence for a driving-while-impaired conviction.
The best way to avoid an OUI conviction in Maine is never to drive at all if you've consumed any alcoholic beverages over the past few hours. If you must drink and drive, be sure to know your personal limits and not overindulge.
All of the these factors play a role in how fast your body can absorb and process alcohol: how much you weigh, your gender, the amount of food in your stomach,the time you spent drinking, and how long it's been since your last drink. If you have been drinking out of the home and need a ride, don't be afraid to designate a driver or even call a cab.
The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety has compiled a fair bit of straightforward information about drinking and driving. These pages can help you avoid an OUI―or help you understand what's in store for you in the unfortunate event that you are arrested:
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