Drug Related OUI Charges
Serving these Areas Across Maine: Portland, Bangor, Augusta, Saco and Biddeford
DUI charges are serious and law enforcement has taken extensive action in an effort to catch intoxicated drivers. Legislation not only pertains to those found driving while under the influence of alcohol, but extends to driving after drug use as well. The Bureau of Highway Safety argues that stimulants, inhalants, narcotics and even prescription medication can all have an effect on the ability of a driver to judge conditions on the road. In addition, the combination of drugs and alcohol is also reported to lead to significant impairment. The influence of drugs in a person's system will be assessed and those convicted will face the same penalties imposed for an OUI. Some of these penalties can include jail time, fines, license suspension and even drug treatment or rehabilitation.
What Drugs Can Lead to Maine OUI?
A person can be arrested for OUI for driving while under the influence of any type of drug. This includes illegal, over the counter and prescription drugs. Maine law defines ‘drug' under Title 17-A, section 1101 as:
The term "drugs" includes any natural or artificial chemical substance that, when taken into the human body, can impair the ability of the person to safely operate a motor vehicle.
An increasing number of drug DUI arrests actually arise from prescription drugs. A police officer can charge you with DUI and you can be found guilty even if you have only taken the medically prescribed dosage of a necessary medication.
It is important to recognize the impact that prescription drugs can have. While they may be prescribed by a doctor, misuse or even correct usage can lead to varying side effects that make it difficult for some to drive. Any illegal use of prescription drugs, such as taking ones that aren't yours or using more than the dosage stated by the doctor can lead to an offense. Those that are suspected will be tested in a similar manner to those suspected for alcohol impairment, along with being held accountable to similar penalties.
The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program
Officers are trained to detect who is driving while under the influence of alcohol. Training is also extended so that an officer can examine if a suspect is operating their vehicle after drug use. This can involve both abused drugs, as well as controlled substances. Known as the DEC, the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program gives Drug Recognized Experts or Drug Recognition Evaluators the ability to complete an evaluation. Through the systematic process, they assess various signs including temperature, psychomotor function, blood pressure, pulse and more.
Drug Related OUI Penalties
The penalties for an OUI involving drugs are the same as those for alcohol related OUIs. If you have any prior convictions for any type of OUI, the penalties will be increased.
1st and 2nd OUI Convictions result in Class D Charges and include:
- A minimum of $500 - $700 in fines (minimums increase if you refuse a chemical test)
- License suspension of 90 days (can be up to 3 years for a 2nd conviction in a ten year period)
- 90 days to one week of jail time (minimums increase if you refused chemical sobriety test)
- Enrollment in a drug treatment program (2nd offense only)
If you have had 2 more previous OUI convictions in the past ten years, you will face Class C charges for any new OUI offense. Past OUI convictions can be a mix of alcohol or drug related offenses. A conviction will result in:
- $1,100 to $2,100 in minimum fines
- 30 days to 6 months of jail time (the more prior convictions, the higher the minimum sentence)
- Six months of license suspension
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
Your actual sentence will depend on the circumstances of your case as well as your criminal case. Ultimately, it will be the judge's decision and the above penalties are only minimums.
Maine Drug OUI Defense Lawyers
Drugs can stay in your system longer than alcohol and can affect different people in different ways. For those reasons, you can be unimpaired but still charged with DUI because side effects for the drug you were taking included drowsiness.
Unlike alcohol related DUI tests, there is no way for a police officer to be sure that you are under the influence of drugs nor can they measure the amount of drugs in your system. There are a lot of other problems with the evaluation system for drug related DUIs as well. For example, not every Maine police officer is properly trained and even those that are rely heavily on personal bias and opinion. This can mean that innocent people can be charged with a drug related OUI if an officer is convinced that a driver is under the influence of drugs. Luckily, these circumstances also give Maine DUI attorneys a strong line of defense. An experienced Maine drug related DUI lawyer knows that drug DUI charges have a lot of defense possibilities.