The answer to this question is more complex than one might think. Accordingly, I will answer this question in a narrative form in order to explain the various nuances that attend each circumstance.
First, all persons whom receive a license suspension for OUI, must complete a driver rehab program and pay a $50 reinstatement fee in order to have their driving privileges restored.
In Maine, the driver rehab program is otherwise known as DEEP (Driver Evaluation and Education Program). This program is run by the DEEP office, a subsection of the Office of the Substance Abuse which is a subsection of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Details concerning the DEEP program will be addressed in another article at a later date.
The potential penalties for a first time offenders and repeat offenders differ significantly depending on whether or not the offender submits to a chemical test (breath, blood or urine) or whether the offender refuses to submit to a chemical test. In the first portion of this narrative I will address folks who submit to a chemical test and, in the latter portion, I will address the potential penalties for folks who refuse to submit to a chemical test.
Because Maine has a two-tiered process, I will also address the administrative penalties as well as the potential court penalties for each circumstance. In other words, anyone who is charged with OUI essentially has to face two separate cases. One is an administrative license suspension proceeding initiated by the Secretary of State, Bureau of Motor Vehicles. That proceeding has nothing to do with the court/criminal case. The second case is a criminal proceeding in which license suspensions, fines and potential incarceration are on the table.
On a first offense, you will receive an administrative notice of suspension from the Secretary of State which puts you at risk for receiving a 150 day loss of license. If you lose your administrative hearing, you will be able to obtain your full driving privileges if the following requirements are satisfied:
- You have completed 30 days of hard suspension.
- You have completed your DEEP requirements.
- You have paid your $50 reinstatement fee.
If all of these requirements have been satisfied, you will be able to obtain your full driving privileges provided that you install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. The IID is a device that requires you to blow into it without any alcohol on your breath in order to be able to start the ignition.
If you are convicted of a first offense OUI in court, you will receive a 150 day license suspension (with credit for time served, if any, on the administrative suspension). You will also receive a fine ranging from $500 to $2000 with a surcharge of 20% of the underlying fine plus a $30 OUI surcharge and $20 victims’ fund assessment. Although the maximum period of incarceration for a first offense OUI is 364 days, there is no mandatory jail sentence for cases involving a chemical test result of less than 0.15. The mandatory jail sentence for cases involving a chemical test with a result of 0.15 or higher is 48 hours.
On a second offense OUI, the length of the administrative suspension is 3 years (as in the case of all offenders, you will have the opportunity to contest the administrative suspension at a hearing with the Secretary of State). But once again, you can shorten that suspension to 9 months by installing an IID in your vehicle. For the first 3 months you will only be allowed to drive for work, education and substance abuse treatment purposes. Thereafter, you will obtain your full driving privileges provided you keep the IID in your vehicle for the remaining 2 years. The prerequisites for obtaining the IID are:
- You must complete 9 months of hard suspension.
- You must complete DEEP.
- You must pay your $50 reinstatement fee.
In court, if you are convicted of a second offense OUI (an OUI is considered a second offense if you have received one conviction or an administrative refusal suspension within the preceding 10 years), you will receive a 3 year license suspension (with credit for time served, if any on the administrative suspension). The fines for a second offense conviction range from a minimum of $700 to a maximum of $2000 plus the above referenced surcharges. Although the maximum period of incarceration for a second offense is 364 days, the minimum mandatory sentence of incarceration is 7 days. Finally, you may also be placed on probation for a period of up to one year.
If you have two previous OUI convictions within the preceding 10 years you will be charged with a third offense (Class C felony) OUI. The length of the administrative suspension is 6 years. However if you have completed DEEP and paid your $50 reinstatement fee, you will be eligible for the IID program after a period of 3 years. With the IID in place, you will be able to drive for any purpose for the last 3 years of the suspension.
A third OUI offense within a 10 year period is a felony in Maine. If convicted, you will receive a license suspension of 6 years (with credit for time served, if any, on the administrative suspension). You will also be subject to a minimum fine of $ 1100 to a maximum of $5000 plus surcharges. The maximum period of incarceration is 5 years in prison. However the mandatory minimum period of incarceration is 30 days in the county j ail. The maximum period of probation is two years.
A fourth offense OUI is also considered a Class C felony in Maine. The length of the administrative suspension is 8 years. If you have completed DEEP and paid your reinstatement fee, you may have your operating privileges restored after a period of 4 years provided that you keep the IID for the remaining 4 years.
The maximum penalties for a fourth offense conviction are the same as a third offense conviction. However the minimum mandatory fine is $2100 and the minimum period of incarceration is 6 months. The maximum period of probation is two years. The court will also order an 8 year license suspension (with credit for time served, if any on the administrative suspension).
I turn now to the enhanced penalties for refusing to submit to a chemical test. On a first time administrative refusal suspension, your loss of license is 275 days. Upon a conviction you will still receive a 150 day suspension consecutive (without credit for time served) to the administrative suspension. If convicted, you will also be subject to a minimum mandatory period of incarceration of 4 days and a minimum mandatory fine of $600. The 275 day administrative suspension may not be shortened through the IID program , however you will be able to obtain a work license for the final 3 months provided that you have paid your $50 reinstatement fee and completed DEEP.
If you are convicted of a second offense OUI and refused to submit to the chemical test the court will impose a 3 year license suspension consecutive to the administrative refusal suspension (275 days for the first administrative refusal and 3 years for a second offense refusal, etc.). You will also be subject to a minimum mandatory fine of $900 plus surcharges and a minimum mandatory incarceration of 12 days.
On a third offense conviction, with an underlying administrative refusal suspension, the court will impose a 6 year loss of license consecutive to the administrative refusal suspension as well as a minimum mandatory period of incarceration of 40 days (maximum 5 years) and a minimum mandatory fine of $1400 (maximum $5000). Again, you will be exposed to up to 2 years of probation.
On a fourth offense conviction, with an underlying administrative refusal suspension, the court will impose an 8 year loss of license consecutive to the administrative refusal suspension and a minimum mandatory fine of $2500 plus surcharges and a minimum mandatory period of incarceration of 6 months and 20 days. Of course, the maximum period of incarceration will remain at 5 years and the maximum period of probation will remain at 2 years.
The above constitutes a summary of the current state of Maine Law regarding potential OUI penalties for first offenders and repeat offenders. You should not count on this summary to remain static. A push to eliminate the 10 year “look back” already exists. As the Commonwealth of Massachusetts did a decade ago, Maine is contemplating the implementation of a “lifetime” look back. Over the decades, Maine has already increased the “look back” from 3 years to 6 years to 10 years.
Those legislative enactments have always been applied retroactively. In other words, if you have an OUI conviction that is more than 10 years old, and a “lifetime” look back is implemented , that OUI will be considered as a prior offense if you are charged again in the future. There is also a push to make second offenses felonies just as third and subsequent offenses are considered now.
If you have questions or would like more details about the potential penalties for OUI convictions in Maine, please contact Nichols & Churchill to arrange for a free consultation.
NOTE: A PRIOR CONVICTION IS A COURT CONVICTION FOR OUI OR ADMINISTRITIVE ADJUDICATION FOR REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO A CHEMICAL TEST.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general, not specific, information about Maine law. The publication of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between the author(s) and the reader(s).