Understanding the Maine OUI Process
Experienced Attorney Serving the Areas of Bangor, Portland, Augusta, Saco and Biddeford
If you have recently been arrested for OUI in Maine, you may be interested in understanding what lies ahead of you. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious charge which can lead to big penalties. Understanding the OUI process is an important step for many people facing charges and helps them feel more in control. Each step is broken down for you in the following section. For more information, contact our office.
The Maine OUI Process Step by Step
Traffic stop: If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint or are observed driving erratically by a law enforcement officer, they may pull you over and ask you if you have been drinking. If the officer suspects that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may ask you to submit to a field sobriety test or chemical test. If for any reason you are unable to successfully complete these tests, you will be placed under arrest. One of the ways our attorneys build defenses is by examining the circumstances around your traffic stop and making sure your rights were not violated in any way. For example, police need probable cause to stop your vehicle and evaluate you for OUI. If you are obeying every law of the road, police will have no reason to pull you over.
In custody: When the suspected drunk driver is taken into custody, the first thing that will happen is a gathering of the individual's personal information. Details will also be taken regarding the circumstances of the suspected DUI and a background check will be run in order to see if this if a first offense or if they have a criminal history. Photographs (mug shots) and fingerprints will be taken and any personal property will be confiscated before they are placed into a holding cell. After a few hours you will be released if you can make bail, which can be set as a cash amount, surety (property), unsecured or personal recognizance.
DMV Hearing: After any type of OUI arrest in Maine, the DMV opens a second case against you regarding your driver's license. The DMV automatically begins the process of suspending your license. The only way to stop the process is to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your license suspension. At the hearing, you will need to argue that either A) the test result was unreliable or B) there was no probable cause to believe you were driving drunk. If successful, the suspension process will be terminated and you can keep your license. The DMV hearing, while related to the underlying criminal charge, has no force or effect on your criminal DUI case.
Before the trial: At the arraignment, the driver will stand before a judge and the details of the charges will be read. This is your opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. Sadly it is at this stage that many people make the wrong choice to plead guilty. They fail to realize that there are ways to defend themselves and believe they have no choice but to accept the penalties. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as many people are falsely accused of DUI every year. If you choose to plead guilty, the judge will impose the sentence right then and there, which could include jail time. Pleading guilty at your arraignment is a HUGE mistake.
Following the arraignment is a dispositional conference. This is your attorney's opportunity to attempt to resolve the DUI with the County District Attorney's Office. Many cases are favorably resolved by my office each and every year at the dispositional conference. However, if the case can't be resolved and there are evidentiary issues to be decided, your case will then be set for a motions hearing date.
The motions hearing deals with constitutional challenges to the State's evidence and any discovery violations. This is extremely important event, as it is here where the judge will decide if your constitutional rights were violated. If the State overstepped its bounds during their investigation, the judge may throw the evidence out, resulting in a dismissal of all charges.
Trial: Many DUI cases never have to reach this stage. When there is a strong legal advocate on your side, you could have a better chance of getting your charges dropped before it ever has to get this far. However, if for some reason a trial is necessary in order for your rights to be defended, evidence from both sides will be presented and a jury will decide if you are guilty or not. OUI trials are usually, but not always, jury trials. This means that your attorney will have to convince a jury that there reasonable doubt exists as to the issue of whether you were actually driving under the influence. In many situations, a trial is your best opportunity to achieve a satisfactory resolution.
Maine OUI Defense Lawyer
After a DUI arrest, whether it is your first criminal offense ever, a second DUI or any other situation, a DUI attorney can be very beneficial. There are details about your case that no one will tell you, like you only have 10 days to file paperwork to keep your license. The good news is that Attorney William T. Bly can help you through the entire legal process.
If you have been charged with a DUI offense in Maine, call us today to find out more about what we can do for you. A DUI lawyer is essential in every step of this process and the sooner you call, the sooner we can take over for you.