The penalties that you can face after being convicted of operating your vehicle while under the influence (OUI) are numerous. There are the obvious ones that everyone is aware of: The license suspension, the fines, and the criminal record. For repeat offenders, there's the jail time, and the possibility of an Ignition Interlock device being installed in the car. All of these penalties grow, depending on how many times you've violated Maine's OUI laws in the past.
But one punishment often gets overlooked. It's understandable, because there are already so many different penalties for an OUI conviction, and this one doesn't come from the prosecutor. It comes from your own insurance company.
Like most states in the U.S., Maine requires that all drivers have auto insurance, and that this insurance covers at least:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death, per person;
- $100,000 for total bodily injury or death, per accident;
- $25,000 for property damage;
- $2,000 medical payments coverage;
- Uninsured motorist coverage of at least $50,000 per person, and $100,000 per accident.
To have this kind of coverage from your insurance company, you'll have to be regularly paying your insurance premiums. But being convicted of OUI can greatly impact the cost of these premiums: Drivers with an OUI conviction have insurance rates that are almost always higher than drivers who don't have an OUI on their driving history. They're often substantially higher.
Unfortunately, avoiding these higher insurance rates is not a possibility. If you are convicted of a second offense or greater OUI in Maine, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will require you to file an SR-22 form in order for you to get your license back after it's been suspended. The SR-22 is a certification that you have, or are covered by, auto insurance – the “SR” stands for “safety responsibility.” While the SR-22 itself is not an insurance policy, it is proof that you have one. Importantly, this form is prepared by your insurance company, and then submitted to the BMV, and is required for you to get your license back after the suspension period. Once your insurance company is aware that you have an OUI on your record, they'll see you as a more risky driver than you were before, and you'll almost certainly see your premiums increase. The exact amount of the rate increase will depend on the countless factors that insurance companies use to determine how likely you will be in an accident. Having an OUI on your driving record increases this likelihood substantially.
This is just one more way that an OUI conviction can hurt you. While the pain of an insurance premium hike won't come until long after your arrest and conviction, it will come in the end: No insurance company is going to overlook the fact that you have an OUI in your past.
An effective attorney can minimize the pain that comes from an OUI charge. William T. Bly is one of the most experienced OUI attorneys in the state of Maine. Call his office at (207) 571-8146 to best protect yourself from the penalties that come with an OUI charge.