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Felony Third Offense OUI Charges in Maine

As a “priorable” offense, each subsequent conviction for operating under the influence (OUI) in Maine comes with higher penalties: The fines, jail time, and license suspension for a second OUI offense are going to be higher than for the first.

The jump from a second offense to a third, though, might be the most significant because it raises the classification of the crime from a Class D misdemeanor to a Class C felony.

An OUI defense lawyer from WTB Law can help you defend against an accusation that you committed a third OUI offense in the state of Maine.

Maine's OUI Law

Maine prohibits driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. 29-A Maine Statute § 2411 makes it a per se violation if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the state's legal limit of 0.08%. However, you can also be convicted for OUI if the police officer who makes the arrest decides that you were “under the influence of intoxicants” while you driving your car or truck.

In addition to laying out what it means to be drugged driving or drunk driving, 29-A § 2411 also lays out the penalties. The calculation it uses relies heavily on how many prior OUI offenses you have had, in the past.

Third Offense OUIs are Felonies

When compared to first and second OUI offenses, a third conviction for operating under the influence carries much higher penalties:

 

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

At least 7 days

Minimum of $700

At least 3 years

Third OUI Offense

Class C felony

At least 30 days

Minimum of $1,100

At least 6 years

It is important to remember that these sanctions are just minimums. Once you have had two prior OUI convictions, judges are probably going to focus on the trend of drinking and driving and will be less likely to be lenient with their sentencing.

Additionally, certain aggravating factors can increase – sometimes quite drastically – the penalties of a third OUI conviction:

  • You were speeding at least 30 miles per hour over the limit.
  • You had a BAC of 0.15% or higher.
  • You tried to elude the police.
  • You refused to take a breathalyzer or other chemical BAC test.
  • You caused an accident that injured someone.
  • You caused a fatal crash.
  • You were arrested with someone under the age of 21 in the car, also known as a child endangerment OUI.

Any of these aggravating factors can add to the fines, jail time, and license suspension that are on the table for a third OUI offense.

Maine's OUI law explicitly increases the penalties for refusing to take a BAC test and violating the state's implied consent laws. For a third OUI offense, refusing to take a breathalyzer or blood test to gauge your BAC increases the fine from $1,100 to $1,400, and adds 10 days to the minimum jail sentence you could face if you get convicted, which means a 40-day jail sentence.

To make matters worse, traffic stops that end with an OUI arrest can frequently lead to other criminal charges, as well. If police find contraband or drugs in the car, you could face additional charges like drug possession or even trafficking.  Each of these additional offenses will carry its own set of penalties that exacerbates your situation.

Even basic, “run of the mill” third offense OUIs, though, are felonies.  A conviction puts a felony-level offense on your criminal background. A felony conviction is the equivalent of the "Scarlet Letter" and is nearly impossible to overcome, even after all of the other penalties that came with the conviction have been dealt with.

Maine's OUI Lookback Period

Unlike some other states in the U.S., Maine does not look all the way into your past for a prior OUI conviction to count against you. Instead, it uses a limited “lookback period” of 10 years.

This means prior OUI convictions will not count against you if your prior sentence was imposed more than 10 years before your latest OUI charge.

Prior OUIs can come from anywhere in the U.S., not just Maine. Even if you were accused and convicted for OUI in Idaho, if it happened in the last 10 years, it can be used to enhance the penalties of an OUI charge you are now facing in Maine.  For example, if you have a conviction out of Idaho for DUI in 2012, a conviction for OUI in Maine from 2014 and now you're charged with a new OUI in 2019 in Maine, you're facing a felony 3rd offense OUI charge.

Defending Against a Third OUI Offense

With substantially higher penalties on the table, it is even more important to vigorously defend against an accusation of a third OUI. Many of the same OUI defense strategies are still available, depending on your situation:

  • There was no reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop.
  • The BAC tests were improperly administered.
  • The breathalyzer was not calibrated properly or the test was improperly administered.
  • The officer wasn't certified to perform certain tests such as the breath test.
  • The police officer's testimony that you were too impaired to drive should not be taken seriously.
  • The field sobriety tests were flawed.

You can also challenge the use of prior convictions, especially if they were out-of-state offenses under a law that is substantially different from Maine's OUI statute.

OUI Defense in Southern Maine at WTB Law

The criminal defense and OUI defense lawyers at WTB Law in Portland represent people who have been accused of drunk driving in southern Maine. This includes people who have been accused of repeat offenses. Defending against these allegations is especially important because of the higher penalties that come with a conviction and the difficulties you can face living with a felony offense on your criminal background.

Call WTB Law for the defense you need if you have been pulled over and accused of OUI in Saco, Biddeford, or Portland at (207) 571-8146 or contact us online.

Contact Us Today

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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