In Boat US magazine, they listed Portland, Maine among the top 10 cities for boating, which is no surprise. All over the State of Maine you can find great places to enjoy boating, including fresh water lakes as well as the Atlantic Ocean, and most of all appreciating time on a boat. Often, people like to relax on their boat while enjoying a few drinks. Unfortunately, sometimes while out on the water enjoying the day, we may indulge a little too much and be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This can be a recipe for a charge of Maine Operating Under the Influence (Maine OUI) on your boat, or Maine Boating Under the Influence (Maine BUI).
In Maine, the drunk driving laws are described as “Operating Under the Influence” or simply Maine OUI. This term, Maine OUI, is used to describe the DUI, DWI, impaired or drunk driving. According to the Maine Revised Statues, boaters who operate a watercraft while intoxicated or under the influence of any narcotic drug may be in violation of the Maine OUI Laws, however instead of under title 29-A (motor vehicles) a Maine Boating under the Influence or BUI charge rises under title 11 (conservation). Simply stated Maine Boating Under the Influence is very similar to Operating Under the Influence while driving.
Those charged with Maine Boating Under the Influence in Maine need to understand what the law actually states, what the penalties and sentencing is possible. This article will highlight:
- How Maine Boating Under the Influence Laws are defined
- The Minimum Sentences for Maine Boating Under the Influence
- Aggravating factors which can increase the minimum sentences
- Maine Boating Under the Influence drug testing process
- Other consequences of an Maine Boating under the Influence Conviction
- How a Maine BUI Lawyer can help
With a decade of experience, providing legal counsel to Mainers accused of a crime, I have helped countless Mainers accused of various Operating Under the Influence charges. If you or someone you know is accused of Maine Boating Under the Influence, please feel free to contact me. In order to answer your questions and help you through this time our first confidential legal consultation is always free.
How Maine Boating Under the Influence is defined.
Every crime has certain elements; facts which the prosecution must prove are real in order to prove that the accused committed the crime. The elements of a Maine Boating Under the Influence are listed below. As with any crime, every element must be proven beyond all reasonable doubt.
In Maine, the Statute for Boating Under the Influence is 12 M.R.S.A. §10701. This statue lays out the key criteria for when a person needs to stop boating due to consuming too much alcohol or drugs.
The statute details that a person may not operate or attempt to operate a watercraft:
- While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs or a combination of liquor and drugs;
- If 21 years of age or older, while having 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath;
- If less than 21 years of age, while having an alcohol level of more than 0.00 grams per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath.
So in order to prove the charge of Maine Boating Under the Influence, the prosecutor must prove that the accused:
- Operated a watercraft and
- Were impaired to any degree by either alcohol, drugs and/or prescription medications.
- Or at the time, had a breath or blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more or
If the accused is under 21 years old, then the blood alcohol content drops to any amount or a BAC of 0.01 which is a bit more than nothing at all.
Often I get a couple of questions from people accused of Maine Boating Under the Influence due to Marijuana or other drugs. They wonder if it meets the same criteria. Under Maine Boating Under the Influence Laws, the Boating Under the Influence charge is the same. It simply does not matter what cause the impairment. It can be alcohol, illegal drugs and/or prescription medication. If you are found to be driving a motor boat while intoxicated, you can be charged with Maine Boating Under the Influence. The legal limit for “intoxication” in Maine is a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. It is pretty easy to get beyond 0.08 bac while enjoying a few beers out boating.
The Minimum Sentence for Maine Boating Under the Influence
In most instances, a charge of Maine Boating under the Influence is a class D misdemeanor. The maximum jail sentence is 364 days and a maximum fine of $2000. The penalties for a Class D misdemeanor Boating Under the Influence charge are as follows:
First Offense – Maine Boating Under the Influence Minimum Penalties
- Class D Misdemeanor
- A $400 fine.
- $500 fine if there was a prior refusal to complete a chemical under 12 M.R.S.A. §10702.
- 2 days jail time if an aggravating factor is alleged and proven.
Second Offense within six (6) years – Maine Boating Under the Influence Minimum Penalties
- Class D Misdemeanor
- A $600 fine.
- $800 fine if there was a prior refusal to complete a chemical under 12 M.R.S.A. §10702.
- 7 days jail time.
Third Offense within six (6) years – Maine Boating Under the Influence Minimum Penalties
- Class D Misdemeanor
- A $1000 fine.
- $1300 fine if there was a prior refusal to complete a chemical under 12 M.R.S.A. §10702.
- 30 days jail time.
Aggravating factors which can increase the minimum sentences
These mandatory penalties can be more severe if any of the following “aggravating factors” were present in the incident:
- The person failed to submit to an alcohol breath test.
- The person was tested as having an alcohol level of 0.15 or higher.
- The person failed to stop upon request or signal of an officer in uniform.
One of the laws within Maine is that if you are operating your boat, you are required to submit to a test to determine your blood alcohol level under 12 M.R.S.A. §10702. If you refuse to take a breath, blood, or urine test, you can be charged with a civil violation for which a fine of $500.00 may be imposed. However, with respect to a future Maine BUI charge as indicating above, if it is proven that you have a prior refusal under 12 M.R.S.A. §10702, the minimum penalties for the BUI charge increase automatically.
- First offense refusal: $500 fine
- Second offense refusal: $800 fine
- Third offense refusal: $1300 fine
If the State proves that operating your boat while under the influence of intoxicants caused serious injury or death of another person, then the crime would be charged as a Class C felony.
Maine Boating Under the Influence drug testing process
Maine BUI cases are proven by showing the boat driver had a breath alcohol test of 0.08 or higher. You should be aware that the Maine Law also allows the police to use a different chemical test, most often a blood test, if they choose. If the police suspect drug intoxication, they will do a urine or a blood test. In Maine, it is up to the police officer to determine the proper testing procedure.
Maine is a state which has the “implied consent” law. This law requires drivers to consent to a chemical test at the request of a law enforcement officer. In some cases there may not be a test result, because the accused refused the test or could not be tested. The prosecutor can still place a charge of Maine Boating under the influence is there is a reason to believe the accused was impaired by intoxicants to some degree at the time.
Other consequences of an Maine Boating under the Influence Conviction
Maine Boating Under the Influence is a crime and if convicted under Maine Law, the criminal conviction stays on your record forever. There is not an expungement process and the governor does not grant pardons for Maine Boating Under the Influence convictions. The Boating Under the Influence conviction will be on your criminal background. It is accessible to anyone who runs a background check on you. This can be problem for you if:
- You hold a professional license and must report convictions to an overseer.
- You need security clearance to perform your job
- You travel internationally, especially to Canada.
- You are not a citizen of the United States. You may have problems extending your visa or re-entering the US.
How a Maine Boating Under the Influence Defense Lawyer Can Help
In a Boating Under the Influence case, your criminal defense lawyer should be aggressive. Your criminal defense lawyer has the knowledge and expertise to fight the State’s case. Some of the areas of attack for your criminal defense lawyer in a Maine Boating Under the Influence case should be:
- Problems with the SFSTs– Was the officer trained properly to execute the standardized field sobriety tests? Did the officer execute the tests in accordance with standardized procedures? Did the officer fail to ask about any potential health problems that would affect your performance on the SFSTs?
- Problems with the Intoxilyzer Machine – Is the officer certified to use the Intoxilyzer? At the time of the arrest, was the Intoxilyzer machine calibrated properly and well maintained? Did the officer observe the proper wait period before breath testing? Did the machine read any error messages during testing?
- Problems with a Blood Draw – Were proper procedures followed for the blood draw? Were proper procedures followed when the blood was tested? Were there issues with the blood draw sample or instruments?
- Contemplating Employing Expert Witnesses at Trial – Intoxilyzer, Police Procedure, and medical experts can be employed to testify at trial to challenge whether the machine, the test itself, and proper police procedure was applied. An expert’s review is a critical look at the State’s evidence.
Another area your lawyer can help is to review the legal procedure and what to expect. In Maine we have two processes which I’ll review to give you a frame of reference on what to expect and how an attorney can assist you in fighting this charge. You will only go through one process, but it depends upon the county where the charge was placed. As always if you have any questions, please give me a call.
Unified Criminal Docket Procedure for Maine Boating Under the Influence
Since a Maine Boating Under the Influence charge is a misdemeanor, the first court date is an Arraignment at the Unified Criminal Docket, which is in effect in Cumberland County and Penobscot County only. Often, I will submit a plea of Not Guilty in writing to the Court prior to Arraignment, and so the first court date that the defendant attends in person is the Dispositional Conference. A Dispositional Conference is where the attorneys negotiate a potential resolution to the case without going to trial, and the lawyers’ conference with the Judge or Justice about any specific issues. If no resolution is reached, then the case would progress to pretrial motion hearings and a Trial. The Unified Criminal Docket pre-schedules a two-week window within which the Jury Selection and Trial would be held. Jury Selection is for the purpose of selecting a jury, and then a trial date is set. At trial, the Jury is the fact finder who will determine whether or not you are guilty or not guilty.
District/Superior Court Procedure for Maine Boating Under the Influence
Again, since the Boating Under the Influence charge is a misdemeanor, the first court date is an Arraignment at the Maine District Court. There are several District Courts all across Maine. In the majority of OUI cases, which can be very suitable for a jury trial, I like to submit a plea of Not Guilty ahead of the Arraignment, as well as a Jury Trial Request and any potential pretrial motions within 21 days of the Arraignment. This transfers the case to a County Superior Court in Maine, where a jury trial is available. The first court date at the Superior Court is a Docket Call, where the attorneys meet to attempt to reach an acceptable agreement to resolve the case without a trial. If no agreement is reached that is acceptable to the defendant, then the case will have pretrial motion hearings and a trial. Similar to the Unified Criminal Docket, pretrial motions can include a Hearing on a Motion to Suppress, among others. The purpose of the Suppression Hearing is to determine whether certain evidence was obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, and thus whether that evidence can be used at trial. At the Jury Selection date, a jury of 12 plus a few alternates is selected to hear the case. After a jury is selected, a trial date is set. A trial is the defendant’s “day in court” to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
Boating Under the Influence and From a Different State
What if someone has been charged with Boating Under the Influence in Maine as a non-Maine resident? My defense of that client’s case would be very much the same, while giving consideration to the following factors:
- If the client was charged with Boating Under the Influence while on vacation in Maine, they might not be able to travel back to Maine to address their case in person.
- If your case goes to a trial, you will have to attend the trial in person, especially if the client intends to testify on their own behalf.
Contact a Maine Criminal Defense Attorney
Dealing with a Maine Boating Under the Influence charge is something you need to do. While it is not a nice way to end a beautiful day out on the water, it is significant enough that you need to know the risks and consequences. It is important that you take swift action to have counsel explaining to you the ins and outs of navigating the Maine legal system and assuring there is minimal impact to your future. There are proven strategies to defending Maine Boating Under the Influence charges. The sooner our legal team becomes involved in the intricate details of case, the more time we will have to do our own fact finding as we help to prepare your defense. Effective action taken by a skilled Maine criminal defense lawyer as soon as the charges are filed by the DA sometimes can result in a lesser charge or in some cases prevent any additional charges from being filed. A Maine Boating Under the Influence charge is a lot more than a simple ticket. It is imperative that you contact our firm as quickly as possible after the arrest.
Our committed legal team is determined to take immediate action to seek a positive case outcome. If you or someone you know is facing Maine Boating Under the Influence charges, I encourage you to contact The Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. We will take the time to answer your questions and to put your mind at ease as we work with you to determine a defense strategy.
It is well worth your time to check out:
If you would like to call us now at (207) 571-8555, we can begin to develop your case strategy.
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