Maine’s OUI Laws and Conviction Penalties

The consequences of a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd OUI in Maine.

Maine's operating under the influence (OUI) laws (the offense is also called "DUI" by some) prohibit operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. This article outlines exactly how the law defines OUI and the penalties a convicted driver might face.

Maine's OUI/DUI Laws

To convict a driver of an OUI in court, prosecutors must prove the driver was operating or attempting to operate a vehicle:

In other words, an OUI conviction can be based on BAC or actual impairment.

What It Means to "Operate or Attempting to Operate" a Vehicle Under Maine's OUI Laws

Speeding down the road certainly qualifies as "operating" a vehicle under Maine's OUI laws. But Maine also prohibits "attempting to operate" a vehicle while under the influence.

Attempting to operate does not require movement of the vehicle but does require a substantial step toward engaging the vehicle. In other words, there must be proof that the driver started the vehicle, placed the vehicle in gear, or otherwise engaged the vehicle's mechanics.

Maine's Definition of "Under the Influence"

In order to convict a driver of OUI, the prosecutor must prove that the driver's mental or physical capacities were impaired, however slightly. To prove impairment prosecutors will often use officer testimony and, occasionally, expert witnesses who can testify as to the intoxicating effects of the substances the driver ingested.

A driver who produces a BAC test result of .08% or more can be convicted of an OUI without proof of actual impairment. To prove an OUI charge based on an unlawful BAC, often called a "per se OUI," prosecutors generally need valid breath, blood, or urine test results.

Penalties for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd OUI/DUI in Maine

The penalties for an OUI in Maine are set by statute and depend primarily on the number of prior offenses the driver has that occurred within the last ten years.

Jail and Fines for Maine OUI Convictions

The chart below outlines the range of jail time and fines for a first, second, and third OUI conviction in Maine.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense (class C crime)

Jail

1-year maximum

7 days to 1 year

30 days to 5 years

Fines

$500 to $2,000

$700 to $2,000

$1,100 to $5,000

Substance Abuse Programs for Maine OUI Offenders

A driver who's convicted of a second or subsequent OUI will be required to complete an approved alcohol or drug treatment program. Completion of the state's 20-hour Driver Education and Evaluation Program (DEEP) is also generally required for license reinstatement (an OUI generally results in license suspension as explained below).

Maine OUI Probation

Instead of imprisoning offenders for the full jail period, judges will often "stay" part of the sentence and place the offender on a one-year supervised probation. During probation, offenders must comply with certain requirements (such as treatment and maintaining sobriety). Failure to comply can result in additional jail time.

However, offenders generally must serve the minimum jail time prior to being released on probation. A first offense will require at least 48 hours in jail if the driver had a BAC of .15%, was speeding 30 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, had a passenger under 21 years old, or attempted to elude the police.

License-Related Penalties for Maine OUI/DUI Offenses

An OUI incident will generally result in license suspension. The length of the suspension depends on the driver's BAC, the number of prior offenses in the last ten years, and the driver's cooperation with the requested testing.

License-related penalties can result from an OUI arrest and/or conviction.

Maine's Implied Consent Law

Maine's "implied consent" law states that all persons who drive within the state have impliedly given consent to one or more chemical tests of their breath, blood, or urine to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol.

While a driver can refuse to comply with an officer's request for testing, doing so will generally result in additional penalties.

License Revocation for OUI Convictions in Maine

All OUI convictions are reported to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and will result in driver's license suspension. The BMV will suspend the driver's license for:

  • 150 days for a first offense
  • three years for a second offense, and
  • six years for a third offense.

A driver who was transporting a passenger under the age of 21 will be suspended for an additional 275 days.

Refusing a Blood, Breath, or Urine Test in Maine

If the driver refuses to comply with a lawful request for chemical testing, the officer will report the refusal to the BMV. The BMV will then review the driver's record and issue a notice suspending the driver's license for:

  • 275 days for a first offense
  • 18 months for a second offense, and
  • four years for a third offense.

A refusal-based suspension will run consecutive (back-to-back) to a conviction-based suspension.

If the driver refused testing and is also convicted of an OUI in criminal court, he or she can face enhanced minimum criminal penalties. The enhanced penalties are as follows:

  • at least 96 hours in jail before probationary release on a first offense
  • a minimum $900 fine and minimum of 12 days in jail before probationary release on a second offense, and
  • at least $1,400 in fines and a minimum of 40 days in jail before probationary release on a third offense.

In other words, the minimum conviction penalties are increased for offenders who refuse testing.

Failing a Chemical Test in Maine

A driver who submits to and fails testing will also face license suspension. The BMV will review the test results and the driver's record. If the test showed a BAC of .08% or more or that the driver was under the influence of drugs, the driver's license will be suspended for:

  • 150 days for a first offense
  • three years for a second offense, and
  • six years for a third offense.

A driver suspended for both a test failure and conviction will only serve one suspension period rather than both.

Getting a Restricted License in Maine

Drivers suspended for a test failure or refusal or conviction are generally eligible for restricted driving privileges. The driver must apply for the restricted license, complete a portion of the suspension, and install an ignition interlock device on any driven vehicle. Drivers must complete the following suspension periods before they will be eligible for a restricted license:

  • 30 days for a first offense
  • nine months for a second offense, and
  • three years for a third offense.

The state can also restrict the offender's vehicle registration during the suspension period.

Maine's Underage DUI Laws

In Maine, drivers who are under 21 years of age are prohibited from driving with any amount of alcohol in their system. A violation will result in license suspension but not jail time or fines. A first offense will result in a one-year suspension and a second offense will result in a two-year suspension. If the offender was transporting a passenger under the age of 21, the driver will receive an additional 180-day suspension.

Similarly, an underage driver who refuses to comply with a lawful request for a chemical test will face license suspension. An unlawful refusal will result in an 18-month license suspension for a first offense and a 30-month license suspension for subsequent refusals.

The suspended driver can apply for early reinstatement after completing half of the suspension period and a state-approved drug and alcohol treatment program.

Talk with a Maine OUI Lawyer

If you've been arrested for operating while under the influence in Maine, you should get in contact with a qualified OUI attorney in your area. An experienced OUI lawyer can help you understand how the law applies in your case and advise you on how best to handle your situation.

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