If you are facing a charge of your fourth or more OUI, also known as Multiple OUIs in Maine, you need to be aware of the impacts to your lifestyle and you will be facing jail time. Multiple OUIs in Maine covers the fourth or more Offense within the lifetime of the accused. A conviction for a Maine 4th offense or higher OUI (or Maine Multiple OUI Offense ) is a felony offense that carries a maximum penalty of five (5) years in prison, $5,000 fine and two-years probation. If you are facing a Maine Multiple OUI Offense you likely have some questions and are looking to see if it is possible to avoid a second felony conviction.
In my decade of experience helping clients with OUI charges, I have handled and achieved successful resolutions for many OUI cases all across Maine. Being charged with a Maine Multiple OUIs Offense, you are facing a felony charge. Once convicted of a felony charge, you would be designated as a felon. A felony status needs to be disclosed on applications for employment, and felonies appear on a criminal background checks for employment. When facing a Multiple OUIs, above all, the goal is to avoid another felony conviction.
When facing Multiple OUIs in Maine, you will not receive any sympathy from the District Attorney’s Office. Under Maine law, multiple OUI are taken as serious felonies. I encourage you to contact The Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation to advise you on your situation fighting Multiple OUIs. I am happy to answer your questions. Once you decide to become my client, I will defend your case aggressively. As we talk about the details of your case at the free consultation, one of things we discuss is the line in the sand. If you choose my firm to represent you, we are going to draw a line in the sand. On our side of the line is your future how you envision it to be. On the other side of the line is the District Attorney, with their charges, penalties and potential jail time. We will also discuss the repercussions a conviction of this 4th or greater OUI charge in Maine
As your lawyer, we will do everything in our power to stop them from crossing that line. We will fight for you using all of our passion, conviction, and influence. Given my decade of experience, this article is to help answer some of your questions about fighting a Maine 4th offense or higher OUI charge in Maine and how a criminal defense attorney can help defend you against the charge. We will review:
- A common scenario on how Maine Counts Multiple OUIs
- What are the impacts if convicted of Multiple OUIs?
- How a Maine OUI Attorney can help?
- How do the courts process Multiple OUI felony charges in Maine?
A Common Scenario on how Maine Counts Multiple OUIs.
Alcohol dependency is an illness, and when fighting an Multiple OUIs there are very real consequences. The below story relates a common scenario of Mary (a fictional person) and the problems that arise which bring her to a situation with Multiple OUI charges in Maine. After reviewing the story, we will share how Maine counts Multiple OUIs based upon this scenario.
Despite being a professional caseworker, Mary has struggled with using alcohol for years. Her first charge of Operating Under the Influence (OUI) in Maine was nine (9) years ago. Back then, the whole experience of being charged with a crime was new to Mary. She went to court and pled guilty without the advice of a criminal defense lawyer because she felt that she should “own up” to the crime. Mary barely got through the license suspension period, which to Mary felt like an eternity.
Seven (7) years ago, Mary had her second OUI. On her way home from a night out with friends, she had a bit too much to drink and on her way home she was stopped at an OUI checkpoint. The police at the OUI checkpoint determined that she was driving under the influence. Mary realized she had a problem with Alcohol and she felt like getting treatment was a higher priority than her legal defense, so she applied for a Court Appointed Attorney. Unfortunately, Mary made too much income and did not qualify, so again, while unrepresented, she let the second OUI conviction slide onto her record. Now that she was in treatment, she promised herself she would change her life. Again, she ended up pleading guilty without fighting the charge.
Mary seemed to be on the up-and-up until four (4) years ago when she got her third OUI while on her way home from a holiday party she rear-ended a vehicle at a stoplight causing injury to person driving the other car. When the police arrived, she was again determined to be operating under the influence. This time Mary talked to a criminal defense lawyer, she was informed her that a third offense OUI conviction within five years would be her final strike towards a potential Habitual Offender status, in which her driver’s license would be revoked. Although Mary spoke to different Maine Criminal Defense Attorneys, she chose to hire an Attorney who was a family friend and a general practitioner. This Attorney put up a good fight, but eventually pled Mary out to the mandatory minimums. Mary was satisfied with this outcome considering the accident and injury to the other driver.
This Third Offense OUI conviction made Mary lose her job as a caseworker. Mary’s employer did not want felons working for them. Now Mary is a stay-at-home mom. Losing Mary’s income in the household meant that Mary, her husband, and two children had to move into a smaller house in a less desirable neighborhood in order to keep the children in their current school system. Feeling sorry for her situation, Mary’s alcohol dependence and depression worsen.
This year, Mary was stopped after dropping off her kids at school. The police officer comments that he observed her weaving her car all over the place. When the officer asks Mary to step outside the vehicle to perform some Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, Mary knows that she is looking at a heap of trouble.
While Mary is a fictional person, the problems she faces are very real for a person in her situation with Multiple OUI charges in Maine. As stated above, if you or someone you know is facing Multiple OUI Offenses in Maine, I encourage you to contact us to schedule a free legal consultation, where you can get your questions answered and have your mind put at ease.
Overall, a Fourth OUI in Maine is a rare offense. In Mary’s case, the number of “prior” OUI offenses was counted by the total number of OUI convictions already on her record at the time of the offense. For instance:
- For Mary’s first OUI, she had no “prior” OUI convictions.
- For Mary’s second OUI, she had one (1) “prior” OUI conviction.
- For Mary’s third OUI, she had two (2) “prior” OUI convictions.
- For Mary’s fourth OUI, which she is facing now, she had three (3) “prior” OUI convictions already on her record.
At this point, you might be wondering how far back these “priors” go when counting OUI offenses over a lifetime. In Maine, the State looks back ten (10) years to calculate the number of “prior” OUI offenses that can be considered in a specific charge. This is often called the “lookback period.”
Starting August 1, 2014, Maine passed a law that the 10-year lookback period for OUI offenses would be calculated from the date that the first sentence for an OUI conviction was imposed, instead of calculating “prior” offenses from when the first charge was introduced at court. The reasoning for this change in the law is that it makes the “lookback” period the same for everyone, regardless of when the Court entered the case into their system.
At the same time, the State of Maine expanded the lookback period to a “lifetime lookback” for all felony OUI convictions. This means that if you have any felony OUI convictions for third, fourth, or consecutive offenses in your entire lifetime, these felony OUI convictions will be included to calculate any new OUI charges.
Multiple OUI Offenses Are a Game Ender
Every OUI charge in Maine contains the same statutory elements:
- Operating a Motor Vehicle
- While under the influence of intoxicants
For Mary facing a Fourth Offense OUI, not only is she facing a felony crime, but the mandatory minimum penalties she would face are severe to the point of crippling:
- $2,100.00 mandatory minimum fine (plus fees and surcharges)
- Mandatory jail time of at least six (6) months
- Loss of driver’s license for a period of eight (8) years
- A court-ordered suspension of the person’s right to register a motor vehicle
- Lifetime Felon Status
As you can see, there are some serious consequences upon conviction. The mandatory minimum jail time is equal to the maximum jail time allowable by law for a Class E misdemeanor. And the license suspension period is two (2) years longer than a typical Habitual Offender revocation period. Perhaps the most damaging remains the felon status, which is a lifetime designation. In the case of a conviction for a fourth OUI offence in Maine, you are now a felon two times over.
How a Maine OUI Defense Lawyer Can Help
Since Mary was in jail serving her mandatory jail time, her distraught husband went to visit a criminal defense lawyer. Was there anything that could be done for Mary to help her?
In the case of Multiple OUI offenses, Mary’s criminal defense lawyer is likely to approach the case a bit differently than a first offense OUI in Maine. With Multiple OUIs, Mary’s criminal defense lawyer cannot argue that this is unusual behavior for her and she just “made a mistake” or “was having a bad day.” Even without this argument, there are defenses to be made.
- Were there any problems with the way the police officer conducted the OUI stop? Even though this might be Mary’s Fourth OUI offense in Maine, the police still have to conduct their OUI investigation the same way each time. The police cannot simply rely on Mary’s known history for drunk driving. For instance, did the officer really see her driving erratically, or did the officer pull her over because Mary has a “reputation” for drunk driving? Reputation alone does not rise to the level of a “reasonable articulable suspicion” to pull Mary over for a suspected OUI.
- Did the officer conduct any field tests or chemical tests properly? During an OUI stop, the officer conducts a series of technical tests, such as the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and chemical tests, such as an alcohol breath test. Each test needs to be executed properly, and the officer needs to be properly certified to administer these tests. Without proper certifications, the validity of the tests can be called into question.
- Did the officer respect Mary’s constitutional rights during the investigation? No matter how many OUI convictions on Mary’s record already, she is innocent until proven guilty. Being pulled over for a suspected OUI is not being convicted of the charge in a court of law. When the police conduct their investigation, they have to respect Mary’s constitutional rights. If not, certain evidence obtained in violation of her constitutional rights can be kept out of evidence at a potential trial.
- Motion to Strike Priors from the Indictment. Remember that Mary plead to her first two OUI’s without the benefit of Counsel. Due to the mandatory minimums, she was certainly facing jail on her second OUI and possibly her first if it was aggravated by a high BAC test. With these facts, it is well worth my time as a Criminal Defense Attorney to investigate if these could be considered unconstitutional un-counseled priors, and move the Court to strike them from the indictment. If the Court grants this motion, then Mary’s felony fourth offense OUI becomes a misdemeanor second offense OUI. These motions are not easily granted, but are worth investigating and frankly Mary’s prior Attorney for her third offense should have done so.
Possible Outcomes with an OUI Defense Attorney
In Mary’s story, the worst thing that she did was to plead guilty to her prior OUI charges without putting up any kind of fight. You never want to plead guilty to any criminal charges without talking to a lawyer first and understanding the full impact that a criminal conviction will have on your life and work opportunities. In a Fourth Offense OUI, the range of possible outcomes would be limited by the severity of the crime, as well as the District Attorney’s willingness to negotiate in a repeat offender situation.
Plead Guilty to a Lesser Offense– This is where the Criminal Defense Lawyer’s skills at negotiation and leverage come into play to persuade the District Attorney to reduce the severity of the pending charge to one that will not have as much of a negative impact. In Mary’s case, the criminal defense lawyer might get a plea deal for a Third Offense OUI. It would still be serious, but the mandatory minimum penalties would not be as harsh.
Rehabilitation, Rehabilitation, REHABILITATION- Lets be honest. Mary has a significant problem with alcohol, as with anyone who has a fourth offense or more OUI charge. A good OUI Criminal Defense Attorney should recognize this and work to address it in such a way that would benefit their client in resolving the case, even in cases that “don’t look good” for the defendant. In Mary’s case, the OUI criminal defense lawyer might fight for an opportunity to engage in residential alcohol abuse treatment as a part of the resolution package. In fact, a resolution contemplating completion of a Drug Court program would be one way this could be achieved.
Maine Court Process for Multiple OUIs
Below is the court process for the Unified Criminal Docket in Portland, Maine.
Here, Mary was charged with a felony. When Mary was arrested for a Fourth Offense OUI, and if she could not make a hefty cash bail component, she would spend a period of time in jail waiting for an Initial Appearance at Court. Mary would not face Arraignment until an indictment came down from the grand jury. In Maine, the State has six months, or three grand jury cycles (whichever comes first) to issue an indictment. After indictment, Mary would attend an Arraignment, where her Criminal Defense Lawyer would instruct her to plead Not Guilty to the charge.
Discovery and Expert Witnesses
At Arraignment, the discovery materials (police reports) become available. The criminal defense attorney will review these for any of the issues described above. In Mary’s case, the criminal defense lawyer found that her Intoxilyzer 8000 measurement might have an issue, since it appeared as though that Mary could not produce an adequate breath sample in order to make a measurement. Here, the assistance of an expert witness might prove helpful.
Next, the Court schedules a Dispositional Conference, where the lawyers attempt to negotiate a resolution to the case without going to a trial. In some counties in Maine, District Attorneys Offices have an official policy of “no negotiation” of all OUI matters. When the District Attorney’s Office has such a “no negotiation” policy, the criminal defense attorney began preparing for trial.
After the Dispositional Conference, the criminal defense attorney will file any appropriate Motions to Suppress in order to keep any questionable evidence out of being introduced at Trial. After this Motion to Suppress is submitted to the Court, a Suppression Hearing will be held. Ultimately, the Court determines whether or not the evidence in question is admissible at trial.
At Mary’s Jury Trial, the District Attorney will use the written police report, witness accounts, and physical evidence to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that she was driving while under the influence of intoxicants, and that this was her fourth offense within the past 10 years. On the other side of the courtroom, Mary’s criminal defense lawyer will cross-examine witnesses, relentlessly test the State’s evidence to assure that correct procedures were used, and introduce expert witness testimony to contest the breathalyzer evidence.
The outcome of a Trial is the end of the case, where Mary would be found guilty or not guilty.
For More Information on Maine Multiple OUI charges
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