In Maine, operating a vehicle while under the influence (OUI) is illegal. The penalties for a conviction are dependent primarily on the number of prior convictions.
This article covers Maine's OUI laws, including how the offense is defined and the penalties a driver might face for a first, second, or third OUI conviction.
Maine prohibits operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while:
In other words, an OUI conviction can be based on BAC or actual impairment.
A driver is considered "under the influence" if his or her mental or physical faculties are, to any extent, impaired by alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants.
"Operating" or "attempting to operate" a vehicle doesn't require actual movement. An impaired motorist who intends to drive the vehicle and takes a substantial step toward doing so can be convicted of an OUI.
The possible jail, fines, and license-related penalties for an OUI conviction depend on the number of prior OUI convictions the driver has.
Generally, only prior convictions within the last ten years count for sentencing purposes (often called a "washout" period).
A first OUI/DUI conviction is a misdemeanor and generally carries:
A first-offense OUI requires a mandatory 48 hours in jail if the driver had a BAC of .15% or more, attempted to elude law enforcement, was speeding 30 miles per hour or more over the posted limit, or had a passenger under the age of 21.
A second OUI/DUI conviction is a misdemeanor and generally carries:
For a second offense involving an unlawful refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test, the minimum jail time is 12 days and the minimum fine is $900.
A third OUI/DUI conviction is a felony generally carries:
For a third offense involving an unlawful refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test, the minimum jail time is 40 days and the minimum fine is $1,400.
An OUI that involves serious bodily injury or death will result in increased penalties. An injury OUI is a class C crime, which carries six months to five years in jail, $2,100 to $5,000 in fines, and a six-year driver's license suspension.
A fatality OUI is a class B crime and will result in six months to ten years in jail, $2,100 to $20,000 in fines, and a ten-year driver's license suspension. A fatality or injury OUI conviction stays on a driver's record forever and will increase the penalties for future OUI convictions.
A second or subsequent OUI conviction will require the driver to complete an alcohol and drug program.
Drivers who have their license suspended for an OUI offense are generally eligible for early reinstatement and a restricted license. To obtain the restricted license, the driver must install an ignition interlock device (IID), petition to the Secretary of State for reinstatement, and complete the following requirements:
A work-related hardship license may also be available for a first-offense OUI-related suspension.
Drivers who are under the age of 21 are prohibited from having any measurable amount of alcohol in their system while operating a vehicle.
A violation carries a one-year suspension for a first offense and a two-year suspension for a second offense. Underage offenders who were transporting at least one passenger under the age of 21 at the time of the offense will receive an additional 180 days of suspension time.
These suspensions are separate from any consequences that might result from an underage driver being found guilty of an OUI as defined above.
If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, you should seek legal assistance. A qualified DUI/OUI attorney can review your case and help you decide on the best course of action.