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Important Legislation: OUI Law Changes in Maine

Since October of 1969, there have been about a dozen or so changes made to Maine legislation where operation under the influence of drugs/alcohol, OUI, is concerned. Most have to do with the legal drinking age, and it has fluctuated between eighteen at least and twenty-one at most over the years. Currently, the law stands at twenty-one years old as the legal drinking age in Maine and most of the United States in general.

Other laws have to do with how much alcohol one can legally consume and still be considered able to drive without impairment. Although this number, called a blood alcohol concentration or BAC, started at .15% in Maine, it was decreased just two years later to .10% and dropped to the current legal limit of .08% in 1988. The rest of the United States uses this same BAC level to determine intoxication and/or impairment, depending on the age of the driver.

As the legal drinking age rose and fell, the acceptable BAC level rose and fell as well, and underage drinking has always been a touchy issue in Maine. In 1983, drivers under the age of twenty-one were permitted to have a BAC no higher than .02%, but this number was reduced to zero in 1995. Today, if a driver is under the age of twenty-one, they are allowed no leniency at all, and the zero tolerance policy is quickly gaining momentum in the United States as a whole.

Laws that deal with punishment for OUI conviction have also been added or amended since 1969. Some of the most recent legislation includes amendments dealing with the zero tolerance policy for minors having any alcohol in the vehicle, the per se law, amendments dealing with vehicular manslaughter related to OUI, adding drugs to the OUI equation, and so on. In 1974, the DEEP program was adopted, or Driver Education Evaluation Program. Attendance in this program is mandatory, and if you do not understand its significance, you should speak to your OUI attorney right away.

It is essential to consult with someone who understands Maine OUI laws and how they apply to your situation. Do not wait until it is too late, talk to an experienced OUI lawyer early in your case.

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