Nobody plans on getting a DUI. Rather, most people head out for a few drinks and before they make it home the blue lights come on. You know the rest of the story. Unfortunately, far too often I have people coming through my office saying it's much cheaper to plead guilty to a 1st offense OUI than it is to hire an attorney to defend the case. That is the furthest thing from the truth. What you need to understand is there are far-reaching consequences that are going to have a serious and long-lasting impact on your life beyond the initial 90-day restriction of your ability to drive.
If you are an out-of-state driver, you may face much harsher penalties being imposed on your driver's license than what Maine will impose. Therefore, you MUST be extremely cautious about entertaining the thought of a guilty plea to an OUI. Invariably, it will cost you a lot more in the end. There are other collateral consequences that result from a DUI guilty plea than just a license suspension or jail. For example, you will probably be banned from entering Canada for any reason for a period of time. That period of time can be as long as 10 years. You may find that your insurance goes up exponentially and you may have to pay extra insurance surcharges with SR22 reporting requirements. You may find that you lose your job. You may be denied that promotion you were seeking. You may be looking to rent an apartment and the landlord, when he runs your credit check and a criminal background check, may turn you down your rental application because of that OUI conviction.
There are just way too many horrible hypos that could happen in your case. The worst horrible hypo would be if you plead guilty to that first offense OUI without getting an attorney involved; sometime the next 10 years you may find yourself on the wrong side of the bars after being charged with a second offense OUI. And in Maine, the penalties you'll face on a second offense OUI charge are much more severe than a first offense OUI.
So, before you plead guilty and say “It's no big deal, It's cheaper for me to plead guilty”; think twice. One of the most important decisions you may face is who, if anyone, to get involved in the defense of your case. Just remember, once you plead guilty there is no buyer's remorse. You can't go back to the court and say, “I'd like to withdraw my plea the next week.” You are stuck with it. You can always plead not guilty and speak with an attorney later.
Keep that in mind, the next time something like this happens to you. Hope you folks find this helpful, and I welcome you to tune in to the next episode of my video blog. Thanks for watching.