There are a lot of laws on the books in Maine that, on first inspection, seem to be there for the sole purpose of boggling your mind. In many of these cases, though, it can be helpful to try to understand the problem in our society that these laws are trying to deal with. After all, in theory at least, our laws are made by the people we have chosen to represent us, for the benefit of everyone.
Implied consent laws are some of those that are difficult to understand. They are radically different in different states, and have enforcement mechanisms that can cause confusion. However, taking a step back and seeing how Maine's implied consent law fits into the bigger picture can help understand its purpose and why we still have it.
What Are Implied Consent Laws?
An implied consent law is, at its core, fairly simple: By driving on the roads of Maine, you are deemed to have tacitly agreed to consenting to a chemical test if a police officer requests that you take one. If you get pulled over and a police officer suspects that you're driving under the influence (DUI), then they can request that you take a chemical test, like a breathalyzer, or a blood, or urine test. Refusing to do so breaks the implied consent law, which leads to an automatic license suspension.
Why Do We Have Implied Consent Laws?
Implied consent laws fill a gaping hole in how police enforce Maine's DUI laws.
Like many laws, Maine's DUI laws carry penalties that grow more and more serious, the more someone breaks it. For example, a first-time DUI offender will typically face a 150-day license suspension and a $500 fine, while a second-time offender will typically face a 3-year suspension, a $700 fine, and a week in jail.
Of course, to convict you for DUI, police need proof that you were under the influence. Relying on their eyewitness testimony is unreliable and impractical, so they use blood alcohol readings (BAC). Anything over 0.08% means you're under the influence, in the eyes of the law.
To get a BAC reading, however, you have to undergo a chemical test, like a breath, blood, or urine test. If you think that you won't pass one of these tests, then what's to prevent you from refusing to take one?
That's the gaping hole in Maine's DUI law that implied consent fills. By creating an automatic penalty for refusing to take a test, the implied consent law pushes people towards giving evidence that indicates whether they were driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Furthermore, the penalties imposed for refusing a breath test are draconian and they include longer periods of mandatory incarceration, additional license suspension time and a jury instruction as to the significance of the refusal and how the jury can view evidence of a refusal in light of impairment.
DUI-Defense Attorney William T. Bly
If you get pulled over and arrested for DUI, you'll be facing serious legal charges that carry tough penalties if you get convicted. Having an experienced DUI-defense attorney in the state of Maine is the best way to ensure that your rights and interests are protected. Contact the Biddeford law office of William T. Bly online or at (207) 571-8146.