Operating a vehicle while under the influence is strictly prohibited in Maine. The state offers stringent enforcement policies and corresponding sentences for those who violate the laws. Any person found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit on a test administered by the local police or by the highway patrol will be subject to serious repercussions. Knowing the Maine DUI laws, the legal process and the consequences will make it easier for drivers to correctly adhere to the state’s expectations and to avoid serious fines and even jail time.
Maine DUI Laws
What Is the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit?
According to Maine DUI laws, a driver is under the influence if he or she is found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Depending on the size, age and gender of the person drinking, this is approximately equivalent to 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine.
However, Maine also has a Zero Tolerance policy for anyone under the age of 21 who is found to have any measurable amount of alcohol in his or her system. This means that a person who is operating, or even attempting to operate, a motor vehicle with a BAC of over 0 percent will automatically lose his or her driving license for a full year.
What Happens if I Get Pulled Over?
Maine drivers must remember that under the state’s laws, their licenses can be withdrawn at any time. Accepting the licenses means that drivers are under Implied Consent. This requires them to automatically agree to any breathalyzer, field sobriety or chemical tests requested by the officer who pulls them over.
Can I Refuse a BAC Test?
Under Maine DUI laws, a driver can refuse the tests requested by an officer. However, the consequences of this choice can be much worse than if the driver had just submitted to the test or if he or she had even failed it. Taking the breathalyzer test could also save a driver who has been drinking but who is not legally intoxicated.
What Happens if I Refuse It?
The refusal of a BAC test results in an immediate license suspension under the Administrative Per Se law that could last for up to six years. This suspension is considered an administrative suspension. This means that the on-scene officer has the right to take the license, thus not requiring court action.
In addition, the officer can testify about the driver’s road performance and behavior. This can result in an OUI conviction and more consequences without a BAC test ever being administered. In these court cases, the refusal of the BAC test typically results in even longer jail time.
Can I Plead “Wet Reckless”?
The term “wet reckless” is used to describe a plea arrangement made by a driver who was intoxicated to serve less jail time or to receive a lower fine. Although a “wet reckless” plea is legal in some other states, Maine DUI laws neither permit nor prohibit this action. This simply means that a driver and his or her attorney may be able to get the charges and sentence reduced in the Maine courts through an agreement with the prosecution.
What are the Penalties I Should Expect?
If there are no other factors involved in the DUI conviction, such as no injuries or fatalities associated with the driver, the penalties in Maine are generally straightforward. There are several automatic consequences, but judges in Maine routinely exceed these minimums when it comes to sentencing.
First Offense DUI
For a first offense DUI conviction, a driver can expect a license suspension of 150 days, a conditional license for at least a year and mandatory driver education classes. In addition, drivers are typically imposed to pay the court costs and at least $500 in fines. If there were aggravating circumstances, such as BAC of over 0.15 percent or speeding 30 mph over the limit, this offense is often accompanied by a two-day jail sentence.
Second Offense DUI
Maine DUI laws stipulate that if a driver has ever been convicted of a DUI in any state, or if a driver has refused a breathalyzer in Maine, within the last 10 years, that driver is considered a second-time offender.
The penalties for a second offense are a mandatory three-year registration and license suspension, a seven-day jail sentence and a $700 fine. These offenders can shorten this penalty to nine months if they complete alcohol education classes and if they receive an Ignition Interlock Device for two years. The Ignition Interlock Device requires a driver to a pass a breathalyzer test before his or her vehicle will start.
Third Offense DUI
Third-time offenders face a minimum of thirty days in prison and $1100 in fines. In addition, these drivers will have their licenses suspended for six years. Alternatively, they can agree to three years suspension plus another three years with the Ignition Interlock Device. Judges may determine that the maximum penalty of five years in prison, two years on probation and $5000 in fines is more appropriate.
Fourth Offense DUI
The minimum punishment for a fourth DUI offense is six months in jail and $2100 in fines, along with an eight-year license suspension. After the completion of the eight years without a license, a fourth-offense driver must also spend four years with an Ignition Interlock Device. The maximum penalty applied by judges is the same as for a third offense.
Although many of these penalties are strict and expensive, it is important to understand the possible consequences of driving under the influence in Maine. These laws are necessary to deter drivers from making choices that could injure themselves or others. By understanding that there are significant costs for breaking the state laws, it is easier to prevent the wrong type of behavior from occurring. What do you think about Maine DUI laws and the potential consequences facing drivers? Let us know in the comments.
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