In one of our latest blog posts, we covered why we have implied consent laws in Maine. In short, implied consent laws are a legal mechanism to automatically penalize someone for refusing to take a chemical test to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC). By implying your consent to take one of these tests whenever you drive on the roads in Maine, you stand to lose your license automatically if you then refuse to take one.
Recently, though, these implied consent laws have been evolving to keep up with the changing landscape of driving under the influence (DUI) law. Unfortunately, the changes that they've gone through have started infringing on your Fourth Amendment rights.
The Changing Landscape of DUI Laws
A DUI is a highly politicized crime. There are a lot of people who have been impacted by drunk drivers, and they have taken to the political system in force, creating advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and other spin offs. These organizations support politicians who act tough on drunk drivers. To get that support, many politicians walk the walk to get the votes that put them in office. As a result, DUI laws have gotten stricter over the past decades, with higher fines and more jail time for even first offenses.
Implied Consent Laws Struggle to Keep Up
As DUI laws have gotten overly strict, more and more people have decided to refuse to take a chemical BAC test, opting to have their license automatically suspended, rather than face the draconian penalties of a DUI conviction.
This trend put law enforcement and politicians in a quandary: It was becoming difficult to get BAC readings for DUI convictions, precisely because DUI laws were so harsh. Their response, however, was not to review DUI laws. Instead, they decided to beef up implied consent laws, so the penalties would be higher if someone refused a BAC test.
This response led twelve states to turn a violation of their implied consent laws from an administrative offense into an actual crime. This difference might seem like a matter of semantics, but it is actually very serious. All of a sudden, in these dozen states, if you refused a BAC test, it would mean that you'd have a criminal background, because you had violated your state's implied consent law. This could have numerous repercussions, down the road, in addition to the penalties for violating the law.
These changes have made implied consent laws so harsh that they have started implicating your Fourth Amendment rights.
Maine DUI-Defense Attorney William T. Bly
Getting pulled over, arrested, and charged for DUI is no small matter. The penalties for a DUI conviction are severe. Avoiding them at all costs should be your highest priority.
Hiring a skilled DUI-defense attorney like William T. Bly is the best way to ensure that your DUI charge does not turn into a DUI conviction. Contact his law office online or at (207) 571-8146 to start planning your defense.