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Maine's Expansive Idea of an Underage Passenger for Child Endangerment OUIs

Posted by William Bly | Oct 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

pretextual stop for speeding led to an arrest for operating under the influence (OUI) in Massachusetts. The charges the driver will face are going to be far worse because there were children in the vehicle at the time of the arrest: He will likely be accused of OUI child endangerment and child abuse.

Traffic Stop for Speeding Leads to Serious OUI Arrest

Police in Sandwich, Massachusetts, say that they saw a car speeding along Route 130 during the evening of Sunday, October 13. When they initiated a traffic stop, the driver handed them an expired driver's license from Colorado and admitted that he did not have an updated one from Massachusetts.

Inside the car were three children, aged 5, 2, and 1.

The officer suspected that the driver had been drinking and administered several field sobriety tests. When the driver failed them, he was put under arrest. He will likely face several charges, including:

  • Speeding
  • Second-offense OUI
  • Child endangerment OUI
  • Careless driving
  • Driving without a license.

OUI Charges Become Aggravated if There Are Children in the Car

In many states, including both Massachusetts and Maine, there are numerous aggravating factors that can make an OUI charge much more severe. One of these aggravating factors is if there were underage passengers in the vehicle at the time of the arrest.

Maine treats these offenses as an instance of child endangerment. Inebriated adults are less likely to properly restrain young children in car seats and are less likely to drive conservatively and defensively.

Those extra dangers are reflected in the increased penalties that OUI defendants can face if they were arrested with a minor in the vehicle. Even if it was just a first offense OUI, if there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, drivers will serve a minimum of 48 hours in jail and will have an additional 275 days added to the license suspension.

Maine's Broad Concept of a “Minor”

Those additional penalties for having a minor in the car at the time of the arrest come from Maine Statute § 2411(5)(A)(3)(a)(iv). That part of Maine's OUI statute, however, has an expansive idea of what it means to be a “minor” in the car: It includes anyone under the age of 21.

This makes Maine's OUI law much stricter than Massachusetts' law, where this particular arrest happened. In Massachusetts, there are only additional penalties for having an underage passenger if the passenger was under the age of 14.

While this difference in the definition of an underage passenger between the two states did not alter the outcome in this case, it does highlight how harsh Maine's drunk driving laws can be.

OUI Defense at WTB Law in Maine

The OUI defense lawyers at WTB Law strive to defend Mainers who have been accused of drunk driving or drugged driving in Portland, Saco, or Biddeford.

If you have been pulled over and arrested and charged for OUI, call us at (207) 571-8146 or contact us online.

About the Author

William Bly

William T. Bly, Esq. is a graduate of Rutgers College where he majored in Political Science with a minor in U.S. History. Attorney Bly attended and graduated the University of Maine School of Law. During his time in law school, Attorney Bly focused on criminal defense.

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