In Maine, operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol – colloquially known as OUI – is one of the most common legal situations for people to get into. The Portland Press Herald recently ran an article, showing that no less than 47,581 Maine drivers have been convicted under the state's OUI law in the past 10 years. According to a study done by the Muskie School of Public Service and the Maine Statistical Analysis Center, the number of arrests made in 2012 for driving under the influence was 5,836.
For how common an OUI charge is, though, the process of defending it is surprisingly complex. This comes in large part from the fact that Maine has a two-tiered process for handling OUI prosecutions. The first part is the administrative process, which deals with your driver license. The second, and more serious, part is the criminal process, which deals with any fines or jail time that you may receive.
In the administrative piece of an OUI charge against you, it will be you against the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), which is one part of the Executive Branch of the Maine government. In a very general sense, what the Executive Branch giveth, the Executive Branch can taketh away... and you got your driver license from the BMV. This is important because, if you get pulled over by a police officer, you need to remember that you're playing by the BMV's rules, and that, if you lose, the BMV will take your license. Included in these rules are Maine's “zero tolerance” law for drivers under 21; your implied consent, by having a license, to submit to blood alcohol content testing if pulled over, and not to drive under the influence, in violation of the OUI laws. The administrative part of an OUI charge has a completely different set of procedures, too. There is no court. Instead, there's a hearing. These differences often confuse people who have not been through the process numerous times, and know what's going on.
In addition to the administrative process, there's also the criminal piece of an OUI charge, as well. In this part of the charge, it will be you against the state of Maine (in the form of a prosecutor) but with the Maine Judicial Branch – the courts – acting as a referee. This part of the OUI charge is more like what you've seen on TV, with a court, a judge, and potentially even a trial. While the administrative part of the OUI charge was only about your driver license, at stake in the criminal process is a good chunk of money, in the form of a fine and possibly even jail time, depending on whether you're a repeat offender or have any aggravating factors in your OUI arrest. Because of the high stakes, this part of an OUI charge can be very stressful if you're not familiar with how it works.
Two Processes = Doubly Confusing
Many people are overwhelmed when they're only dealing with just one legal process. If you've been charged with an OUI, however, you'll be facing two, with two different opponents, who often help each other by sharing information. It's easy to get overwhelmed in that kind of situation, and not know how to best defend yourself. If you or someone you know are in this kind of situation, and have been charged with OUI, call the office of William T. Bly at (207) 571-8146. With years of experience defending OUI charges, Mr. Bly knows all the best ways of protecting your interests.