Experienced Maine ATV Lawyer Representing Clients Accused of OUI
Serving the Areas of Bangor, Biddeford, Augusta, Saco, and Portland
You're almost certainly aware that it's illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (OUI). However, a question that you might want to ask is whether this includes driving your all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or your snowmobile in Maine, as well.
The answer is fairly simple: Yes.
While Maine's OUI statute outlaws operating a “vehicle” under the influence, and therefore seems to include ATVs and snowmobiles, there's a law in Title XII – the part of Maine's laws dealing with the outdoors and conservation – that specifically outlaws operating these vehicles under the influence, and states a particular penalty for doing so.
The standard for an OUI in Maine on a snowmobile or an ATV are the same as an OUI in a car: You can face charges if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is at or above 0.08%, if you're over 21 years old, and if your BAC is above 0% if you're under 21 years old.
However, the penalties for operating a snowmobile or an ATV under the influence in Maine are slightly different than they are for operating a car. If you get convicted for OUI while driving a car, you could be facing a minimum of a $500 fine, 150 days without your driver's license, and potentially even 2 days behind bars. If you get convicted for an OUI while using a snowmobile or an ATV, though, you won't have to worry about a license suspension. The other penalties, however, are substantially the same:
In the past 6 years, this was your…
None, unless there are aggravating factors
Minimum 7 days
3rd or subsequent offense
Minimum 30 days
There are several important things to note about these penalties, though. The number of times you've been convicted for OUI includes not only convictions while operating an ATV or snowmobile, but also while operating a watercraft, and while hunting. So, if you've been arrested for hunting while under the influence in the past six years, and then you get arrested for operating your ATV with a BAC of 0.11%, you'll be charged for a second offense OUI.
Additionally, these minimum fines can increase if you have, in the past 6 years, refused to submit to a BAC test. For a first offense, the minimum fine increases from $400 to $500, for a second offense, from $600 to $800, and for a third or subsequent offense, from $1,000 to $1,300.
Jail time is also a possibility for a first offense OUI if there are aggravating factors. These aggravating factors are failing to stop for a responding police officer, for failing to submit to a BAC test at an officer's request, and having a BAC of at or above 0.15%. Any one of these aggravating factors can result in a minimum of 2 days in jail for a first offense.
Lastly, the court may require you to participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program, provided by Maine's Department of Health and Human Services.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does it make any difference if I am apprehended driving my Maine ATV on a public road?
Yes, it does. If you are convicted for driving while intoxicated off-road, your driver's license will not be affected. If you are convicted for driving on a public road, however, you will face the same risk to your driver's license that anyone else convicted of OUI would face – your driver's license could be suspended for 150 days.
How might a Maine criminal defense attorney challenge the results of an Intoxilyzer test?
A Maine criminal defense attorney could challenge whether:
- The officer was licensed to use an Intoxilyzer
- Whether machine was properly calibrated
- Whether any error messages appeared during testing
- Whether the officer observed the proper waiting period before testing you
How might a Maine criminal defense attorney challenge the results of a field sobriety test?
A Maine OUI attorney could challenge:
- Whether the officer was properly trained to administer field sobriety tests
- Did the officer properly administer the test, using standardized procedures
- Whether you had any health problems that might affect your performance on a field sobriety test
Are there any possible outcomes other than a conviction or an acquittal?
There are three common outcomes besides a conviction or an acquittal.
- Dismissal: The defense attorney convinces the prosecutor to drop charges against you. This is an even better outcome than an acquittal.
- Filing agreement: This is a conditional dismissal. The D.A. will keep records of your charge for a period of time, but will dismiss your charge when the time period expires if you meet certain conditions such as undergoing substance abuse evaluation and treatment.
- Plea bargain: You agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for dismissal of the OUI charge.
What prompts prosecutors to agree to plea bargains?
There are two main motivations, either one of which might be enough to get you a plea bargain,
- The prosecutor lacks confidence in his case against you and would rather accept a certain guilty plea than gamble on an uncertain trial.
- The prosecutor faces an overcrowded docket. Since a guilty plea takes less time to resolve than a trial, the prosecutor can reduce her workload by accepting a plea bargain.
Is there any way that evidence can be excluded so that it can't be used against me?
Yes. Evidence can be excluded if its admission would violate the Maine Rules of Evidence. Testing your blood for alcohol constitutes a "search" for Fourth Amendment purposes, for example, and this evidence might be excludable if the officer had no probable cause to stop you in the first place.
What is an arraignment?
An arraignment is the first court hearing on your case, and must happen soon after your arrest. At the arraignment, the court will formally notify you of the charges against you, inform you of your rights (such as the right to an attorney). If you already have an attorney, you will be asked to enter a plea.
What is a dispositional conference?
A Dispositional Conference is a conference between your defense attorney and the prosecutor. It is here that your attorney will negotiate a plea bargain if the prosecutor is open to one. If no agreement can be reached, criminal proceedings will continue towards an eventual trial.
Does it matter if I was using a prescription drug, marijuana or another illegal drug rather than alcohol?
It is just as illegal to drive an ATV or snowmobile in Maine under the influence of any intoxicant as it is to drive under the influence of alcohol. If the officer observes that you are intoxicated but your BAC turns out to be 0.00, he will have a urine or blood test administered, and you can be convicted based on the results.
What is a drug recognition evaluator?
A drug recognition evaluator is a police officer trained to recognize which drug you are likely to be under the influence of so that the police will know what to test for. A drug recognition evaluator is likely to be brought in if you are obviously intoxicated but an Intoxilyzer does not detect the presence of alcohol (or if the amount it detects is too small to account for your observed degree of intoxication).
Will an OUI conviction follow me if I move out of state?
Perhaps. Although the Driver License Compact is designed to ensure that a driver's record follows him wherever he goes, several states including Maine, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, and Tennessee are not members of the compact at the time of this writing. That doesn't necessarily mean you're safe – if your new state finds out about your conviction, it could still be held against you.
Contact Knowledgeable Maine ATV Lawyer About Your OUI
Whether you were driving your car or your ATV, an OUI charge is still an OUI charge. You will need the help of an experienced OUI attorney. Protect your interests, call the law offices of William T. Bly at (207) 571-8146.