If you are facing a criminal charge of OUI, perhaps for the first time in Maine. The most common misconception about drunk driving charges is that those accused DUI often believe pleading guilty is going to save more over investing in an attorney. As you struggle with the decision to fight your case or just plead guilty, how do you know which direction is the right one?
- Jail time – If this is not your first offense, you are looking at a mandatory jail time of at least 7 days. If it is your first offense and you have an aggravated charge, you are facing at least 2 days of jail time.
- Loss of Driver’s License – Any drunk driving charges comes with a suspension of your driver’s license for at least 150 days. What is the cost to you of not driving for 5 months?
- If you have a prior DUI conviction, then the period of suspension can be from three (3) to six (6) or more years.
- Fines – The fine imposed for your first offense is between $500 to $2000.
- Insurance premium increases – Once convicted of a DUI (after trial or by pleading guilty or nolo contender), you can expect to see your insurance premiums to increase at 93% for at least five years.
- Time Spent in Court – How much vacation time do you have at work to spend on attending court dates?
These are significant impacts for a one time bad decision of drunk driving. Below are ten (10) suggestions to saving your time and money when facing drunk driving charges in Maine.
The single most important key to getting the most out of your OUI case is to be smart about investing in your OUI legal defense.
The Top Ten Ways to Save Time and Money when charged with Maine OUI
- Understand that you should not handle your OUI case pro se. “Pro se” means that you act as your own legal counsel. While you might think that you would “save money” by not paying a lawyer’s fee, you are not a lawyer. Defending an OUI case in Maine take specialized training in the law, and the law itself is complex enough to challenge some expert lawyers. Why would you think that you could perform at the same level as an expert? If you represent yourself, you will end up either pleading guilty or being found guilty. This is certainly not an outcome that you would want.
- Do Not Plead Guilty. The biggest mistake anyone can make is to rush to the courthouse to plead guilty to OUI. While you might think that you are “saving time” by going directly to a guilty plea, this will end up costing you much more in the long run. The criminal conviction is a permanent fixture on your criminal record. Depending on your job, such as those requiring special licensing or those working with children, they might not tolerate keeping an employee with a drug or alcohol conviction. This might reduce your overall earning power, which in the long run will both waste your time and your money.
- Research OUI in Maine. In order to best evaluate how you want to fight your OUI case, you need to know what questions to ask. Often, you need to know something about a topic before you can come up with questions to ask about it. Take some time to find out what Criminal OUI is. One good source is reading an attorney blog about OUI, such as the articles posted by The Nielsen Group.
- Meet with a potential OUI criminal defense lawyer. The single best way to gauge what it will take to fight your OUI case with an aggressive OUI criminal defense lawyer is to meet with that lawyer in person to talk about your case. At The Nielsen Group, we offer a free legal consultation to people facing OUI charges. At your in-person legal consultation meeting, you can meet the lawyer, ask questions, and get answers. You can visit more than one potential OUI defense lawyer if you want to get an idea of the range of what you can expect to pay for legal services.
- Know what a DUI Defense Attorney can do for you. A lawyer looks at the evidence, the way the evidence was gathered and the process the police followed during your arrest. A lawyer has experience knowing what to examine to bring up points of reasonable doubt. Armed with this knowledge and experience l defend clients facing an OUI charge. Sometimes my probing and questioning can eventually about the complete dismissal of charges even before a trial. It is possible that the police officer missed a step and did not follow procedure exactly. What if the blood test was not stored correctly? Having a lawyer is the best way to assure all of the rules of evidence and your legal rights were followed.
- Feel Confident with your choice of OUI criminal defense lawyer. Personal interactions are the best way to find out whether you “like” the lawyer and whether you believe that they will do a good job for your case. When choosing to hire a lawyer, you want to make sure that you will be comfortable working with this lawyer over the course of several months. Even though you have the right to a “speedy” trial, what the courts consider “speedy” is very often much slower than what people might expect. Your attorney can also attend some hearings on your behalf so you do not need to take vacation time off from work or risk losing your job due to poor attendance.
- Remember the BMV Administrative Hearing. No OUI case defense is complete without fighting the administrative driver’s license suspension at the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Your OUI criminal defense lawyer should be on board with defending your case at the BMV as well as the criminal court.
- Meet your Reinstatement Requirements On Time. While the advice to “pay your fees on time” might go against a goal of saving time and money, you will get back on the road sooner and avoid expensive additional criminal charges that will only land you back in criminal trouble. For example, if you fail to spend the $300.00 on a DEEP Course and pay the $50.00 reinstatement fee to the BMV, your license will not be reinstated. If you drive without having met your reinstatement requirements, you can be stopped and charged with OAS for an OUI which carries a mandatory minimum 7 days jail and consecutive additional 1 year loss of license.
- Understand that District Attorney’s only negotiate with Defense Attorney’s. You may also be under the belief that if you just explained your situation to the district attorney or the judge, you should be able to “negotiate a deal.” If most cases if you do not have an attorney, the district attorney will support the allegation of OUI and not negotiate the charge. As for the judge, it is not his role in the court system to negotiate a charge or plea.
- Courtroom procedures are time consuming and conduct matters. Remember the first time you moved to a new town or went some place you did not know? In court, you need to be able to grasp all the little important details of the law. You need to follow the court procedures to the letter. You need to know what the impact is of the district attorney’s direct or cross examination and how to respond appropriately. An attorney knows what to do, how to act and will have already explained to you on how to answer questions while maintaining your legal rights. An attorney is your guide and having a guide to avoid making a mistake is of value. Your attorney can also attend some hearings and court dates on your behalf.
If you have more questions about drunk driving charges, contact the Nielsen Group located in downtown Biddeford. The Nielsen group is uniquely qualified to assess your case and help develop a smart legal strategy and aggressive defense. As you can see below, it is our reputation.
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