Multiple OUI Arrests in the Same Day Don't Violate Double Jeopardy Clause

Posted by William Bly | Nov 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

A new ruling from the Maine Supreme Court on November 28, 2017, Maine v. Martinelli, highlights how the Double Jeopardy Clause works, in the context of operating under the influence (OUI).

What Happened in Maine v. Martinelli

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, Michael Martinelli was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. He refused to submit to a breath or blood test and was arrested and booked for violating Maine's implied consent law and for OUI under 29-A M.R.S. § 2411(1-A)(C)(1).

At 11:30 pm on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 – just short of 24 hours after the first arrest – Martinelli was pulled over for drunk driving again. He again refused to take a breath or blood test and was again arrested and booked under Maine's implied consent law and for OUI.

However, in Maine, criminal charges are filed by date, not by time. Therefore, both of the OUI charges against Mr. Martinelli had the same date, even though they were separate incidents.

Soon after Mr. Martinelli was convicted of the first OUI and sentenced to four days in jail, a $600 fine, and a 150-day license suspension, he filed a motion to dismiss the other OUI charge, claiming that it violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of both the Maine and the U.S. constitutions. He had, after all, already been convicted for OUI on May 6, 2015, so the other charge for the same day violated his rights.

The Double Jeopardy Clause

The Double Jeopardy Clause is in both the U.S. Constitution, in the Fifth Amendment, and in the Maine Constitution, at Article 1, § 8.

In both Constitutions, the Clause prohibits people from being put in jeopardy twice for the same crime. While Maine could interpret its Double Jeopardy Clause more broadly than the U.S. Constitution, it has chosen not to. Instead, both Clauses afford the same protections in the state of Maine.

Different Occurrences Make a Different Offense

Because the Maine and the U.S. Double Jeopardy Clauses are identical, the Maine Supreme Court looked to the U.S. Supreme Court for answers. They found an answer in a case from 1932, Blockburger v. U.S., where the Court had pointed out that there were three tricky scenarios for the Double Jeopardy Clause:

  1. A single act that violates multiple, distinct laws,
  2. More than one distinct acts that violate the same law multiple times, and
  3. One act that only violates one law.

Only the third situation, though, violates the Double Jeopardy Clause because only in the third instance are both the acts and the laws the same.

Mr. Martinelli's OUIs fall in the realm of situation number two. If his situation had violated the Double Jeopardy Clause, then Maine's imprecise docketing system – a clerical problem that does need to be fixed – would allow people to break the same law for the rest of the day, once arrested for a crime and released.

Maine Criminal Defense Attorney William T. Bly Fights for Your Rights

The Double Jeopardy Clause is still a powerful tool that criminal defendants can use to protect their rights from an overreaching state. Contact the law office of criminal defense attorney William T. Bly online or call him at (207) 571-8146 for the legal representation you need.

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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