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Second Offense OUI Charges in Maine

The crime of operating under the influence (OUI) in Maine is a “priorable” offense. This means subsequent convictions carry higher penalties than the first one. Second offense OUIs are more severe than the first one but less severe than third, fourth, or subsequent OUI offenses.

Hiring an OUI-defense lawyer from WTB Law can be the best move you can make if you have been pulled over, arrested, and accused of committing OUI for the second time.

OUI Law in Maine

Like all other states, Maine prohibits driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 29-A Maine Statute § 2411 makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the legal limit of 0.08%. It also prohibits driving while being “under the influence of intoxicants.”  Under the influence is defined as impairment to the slightest degree by the drugs or alcohol consumed.

That same statute also outlines the penalties that you can face, if you are convicted of OUI. Importantly, the statute provides for different sets of penalties based on how many prior OUI offenses you have on your criminal record.

Second Offense OUIs Carry Higher Penalties

Compared to a first OUI offense, the penalties of a second offense are substantially higher:

 

Crime Classification

Jail Time

Fines

License Suspension

First OUI Offense

Class D misdemeanor

No minimum

Minimum of $500

At least 150 days

Second OUI Offense

Class D misdemeanor

Minimum of 7 days

Minimum of $700

At least 3 years

The Maine legislature apparently thought that a second OUI was the one that betrayed a trend that the law should make an effort to prevent. This was probably why they drastically extended the length of the license suspension and added a minimum of a week in jail.

These are also just the baseline for the penalties you can face for a second OUI. Aggravating factors can increase them significantly, like if your OUI arrest included any of the following scenarios:

  • There was someone under the age of 21 in your car at the time of the arrest – also known as a child endangerment OUI
  • You caused a crash that hurt someone else
  • You caused a fatal crash, in which case you can be charged with vehicular manslaughter
  • You refused to take a chemical sobriety test, like a breathalyzer or a blood test, when the police requested one
  • The chemical test you took revealed a BAC at or above 0.15%
  • You tried to get away from the police (this is called Eluding)
  • You were going at least 30 miles per hour over the stated speed limit

Any one of these aggravating factors can increase the fines, jail time, and license suspension that are on the table for a second OUI offense. The statute takes explicit exception to people who refuse to take a breathalyzer or other chemical sobriety test, also known as an implied consent violation. If you already have an OUI on your criminal background, refusing a breath, blood or urine test (chemical test) increases the minimum fine from $700 to $900 and the minimum jail time from 7 to 12 days.

In addition to these penalties, you could also be facing additional charges, depending on the circumstances of your arrest. For example, if police find marijuana or drugs in your car after the traffic stop, you could face a criminal charge as well as the penalties for drug possession.

The Lookback Period for OUIs in Maine

Maine is one of the states that use a limited “lookback period” for calculating prior OUI offenses. Rather than asking if you have ever been convicted for OUI, Maine usually only asks if you have been convicted for OUI in the past 10 years.

In Maine, most prior OUI offenses “fall off” your record for the purposes of subsequent offenses once 10 years have passed since the day you were sentenced for the prior offense. This means if you get arrested and charged for OUI on January 1, 2019, and your sentence was imposed for a prior OUI in 2001, that prior offense would not count. Your current OUI case would be treated as a first offense, even though you had a prior OUI from 18 years earlier.

It's important to understand that although Maine can only look back 10 years for prior offenses, any prior convictions, no matter how long ago, are considered relevant conduct and can be used against you in sentencing before a judge.  Even if the OUI happened 50 years ago, it will count as relevant conduct.

Lookback Locations: OUIs Anywhere in the U.S. Count

Maine's lookback period is not just limited to Maine. You could have been convicted in Arizona or any other state and it would count as a sentencing enhancer for an OUI in Maine if the prior offense happened in the last 10 years or was a felony.  However, what is important to understand is that the DUI conviction from another state has to be substantially similar to the OUI laws in Maine.

Defending Against a Second OUI Charge in Maine

While the penalties of a second OUI offense are significantly harsher, the defense strategies for a second OUI are largely the same as a first offense. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you might use the following defenses:

  • The breathalyzer or chemical test was experiencing problems
  • There was a problem with the observation and depravation period (wait period)
  • The results of the chemical test can't be trusted because it was incorrectly administered
  • There was no reasonable suspicion for the stop or probable cause for the arrest
  • The field sobriety tests were administered incorrectly
  • The officer's description of the arrest fails to prove that you were under the influence of an intoxicant

WTB Law: OUI Defense in Southern Maine

The criminal defense and OUI defense attorneys at WTB Law strive to help people who have been pulled over and accused of a second offense of OUI in Portland, Saco, and Biddeford. Raising the legal defenses that can fight an OUI charge is all the more important when you already have a prior OUI conviction on your record, as the penalties for a second OUI offense are even higher than they were for the first.

Call the OUI defense attorneys at WTB Law at (207) 571-8146 or contact us online to get the strong legal representation you need at this difficult time.

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What distinguishes our Firm from the numerous law firms throughout the state is that we genuinely care about the well-being of our clients. The staff and attorneys of WTB LAW ensure that every client receives hands-on and personalized attention throughout the life of their case.

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