To avoid an OUI in Maine, you should know at least these five things.
I. OUI in Maine
IV. Sobriety Tests
V. Avoid Arrest
I. OUI in Maine
It’s a crime to drive a vehicle while impaired by alcohol. Legally, the crime is called operating under the influence, or OUI in Maine. In many states this is called a DUI or DWI.
For adults age 21 or older, OUI is driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. And for commercial drivers, it’s driving with a BAC of 0.04% or more.
For drivers under 21, including adults age 18 through 20, OUI is driving with any detectable alcohol in the body. That is, anything over 0.00% is illegal.
Unreliable Breathalyzer Tests.
How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your Body?
However, most states set a limit for those under 21 not at 0.00% but at 0.02% or higher. They do this to reduce the risk of convicting innocent young drivers.
The reason is simple. First, breathalyzers are not highly accurate. In fact, they don’t actually measure BAC. They really only estimate it.
Another reason is that many medications contain high levels of alcohol. Also many foods do as well. That includes baked goods such as bread. And finally, everyone produces alcohol naturally within their bodies. This means everyone always has blood in their alcohol. Includes all drivers under 21.
It’s also illegal for drivers under 21 to have any alcohol in their vehicle. This includes the trunk. There are two exceptions. One, if they’re transporting it as part of their job. The other is if they are doing so at the request of their parents.
The exact penalties imposed for an OUI in Maine vary. Many factors cause these differences. Thy include such things as
- Driver’s Age
- Estimated BAC.
- Type of license.
- Any prior OUIs.
- Skill of driver’s attorney.
- Consequences of the OUI (property damage, injuries, etc.)
- Any minors in the vehicle.
- Characteristics of driver (demeanor in court, race, socio-economic status, etc.)
- Beliefs and personality of judge.
Nevertheless, here are the general guidelines.
- 30 day license suspension.
- Fine of up to $500.
- One year license suspension.
- Fine of at least $400.
- No driver or passenger of any age may drink or possess alcohol in a vehicle’s passenger compartment. That includes taxi passengers.
- Drivers under age 21 who have any alcohol in their blood lose their license for one year. If they have a passenger under 21, the state imposes an extra 180 days to the suspension.
- Drivers under 21 who illegally have any alcohol in their vehicle, including the trunk, lose their licenses for 30 days.
III. The Costs
Getting charged with a OUI in Maine is very expensive, as it is elsewhere. And this is true even if you’re innocent. Of course, it’s even more expensive if a judge or jury convicts you.
The cost of a legal OUI defense is very hard to estimate. That’s because the complexity of cases varies widely. And more complex cases take more of a lawyer’s time. That means more money.
It’s wise to select an experienced lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. The knowledge and experience of such a lawyer is invaluable. In fact, such a lawyer may take less time.
Its obvious that simply asking lawyers how much they charge per hour isn’t helpful. It’s like asking a car dealer how much it costs to buy a car.
There are a number of other costs. They may include fines, court costs, property damage, medical expenses, possible loss of employment, increased insurance rates, and other expenses. The total can be high. It can easily be more than lawyer fees and expenses. Therefore, the total cost of an OUI can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.
In addition, there are non-money costs as well. They may include pain and suffering, feelings of guilt, embarrassment, driving license suspension, loss of friendships, and many others.
Knowing the high costs of an OUI is helpful. Needless to say, it’s a great motivation. That can help us try to avoid getting one.
IV. Sobriety Tests
All states require drivers to submit to alcohol breath tests (estimators). That, in spite of their scientifically proven unreliability.
However, all drivers have a Constitutional right to decline taking a chemical BAC test. In spite of that, the state punishes those who use their right. Their license is revoked on the spot even if they are completely sober. The revocation is for one year. Also, New Mexico denies any restricted driving for work, school, or other essential activities.
Field Sobriety Tests
However, no state requires drivers to take a field sobriety test. And that’s good. Simply put, field sobriety tests lack validity. That’s why about one-third of completely sober people with a 0.00% BAC fail them. And they do so under ideal conditions.
Naturally, taking a field sobriety test on an uneven highway shoulder after being pulled over by police and being very nervous is far from ideal. So the “real world” failure rate for completely sober people must be much higher.
Understandably, lawyers strongly urge drivers never to submit to any field sobriety test. On the other hand, police want suspects to take them. They often falsely insist the law requires it. It doesn’t. Or they say that passing it proves you’re innocent. It doesn’t.
An officer who pulls over a driver for suspected drinking and driving is conducting a criminal investigation. The officer may legally lie to you. Remember that if you are a suspect in a crime, the police officer is your adversary.
Discover much more about field sobriety tests. Also, learn What to Do If You Are Pulled Over. Knowledge really is power to protect yourself.
V. Avoid Arrest
Obviously, one way to avoid an OUI is by abstaining from alcohol. Another choice is to use a Designated Driver or use public transportation.
Most drivers enjoy drinking alcohol, at least on occasion. They may lack a Designated Driver or access to public transportation. And they may be unable to afford Uber or Lynks.
So how can drivers drink before driving, yet avoid arrest? The answer is simple and legal, except for drivers under 21. Maintain a low BAC.
These guidelines can help keep a low BAC.
- Always remember that standard drinks of beer, wine and spirits have equivalent amounts of pure alcohol.
- Have no more than one standard drink each hour. Preferably less.
- Avoid non-standard drinks. This makes it easier to keep track of alcohol intake.
- Eat and snack while drinking. This is very important!
- Have a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones.
- Accept an alcoholic drink only when it fits your consumption schedule.
- Never engage in any drinking game.
Arrested for OUI in Maine?
This website strongly opposes impaired driving. But it also supports the U.S. Constitution and the rights it grants both the innocent and the guilty.
If you’re charged with an OUI in Maine, contact a lawyer immediately. The attorney should specialize in drinking and driving cases. Better yet is one whose practice is limited to such cases.
The Maine Bar (lawyer) Association provides a free e-mail and phone lawyer reference service. Martingale-Hubbell offers a free on-line searchable database with lawyers by specialty and geographic location. In addition, it provides client and peer evaluations.
Don’t rely on this or any other site for legal information.
VI. Resources: OUI in Maine
Brezina, C. I’ve Gotten a DWI/DUI, Now What? NY: Rosen, 2016.
CDC. Teen Drinking and Driving. Atlanta: 2012.
___. Impaired Driving. Washington: 2018.
Gillespie, L. Police Encounters. Know Your Rights. Gillespie, 2014.
Hudson, T. The Drinker’s Guide to Driving: The Secrets of DUI, From One of America’s Top DUI Lawyers. Cork: BookBaby, 2013.
Keech, C. & Fairchild, C. Dude, What are My Rights? Kansas City, MO: Keechild, 2014.
Lauterjung, L. DUI law for Drivers. How to Avoid DUI Arrests and How to Handle a DUI Stop. Lauterjung, 2012.
Nevels, T. Avoid DWI and Marijuana Charges. Cork: BookBaby, 2015.
NHTSA. Drunk Driving. Washington: 2018.
Sagsletter, R. Rights During a Police Stop / DUI in the United States. What Officers Can and Cannot Do. Denver, CO: Outskirts, 2012.