Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS)

Unfortunately in the great state of Maine, the state does not excel at notifying people their Maine driver’s license was suspended.   You may be pulled over for a speeding and be surprised to find out you are driving on a suspended license. If you find yourself charged with an OAS, you should be aware that the penalties range from a fine of $250.00 up to $5,000.00 depending upon the charge. Some charges even have mandatory jail time. If you choose to plead guilty to a Maine Operating After Suspension Charge, you will get the added bonus of having your driver’s license suspended by the BMV or the Court, again depending on the specific charge, of Maine Operating After Suspension.

Simply put, Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) is driving a car while your license is under suspension. To be charged with a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS), it does not matter how your license was suspended. Having a suspended license can be an extremely stressful and difficult experience. Many people rely on their driver’s license to be able to make a living, and in a State like Maine, most people are not in a situation where they can utilize reliable public transportation when their license is suspended. Therefore, having a suspended license can be a life-crippling event. This fact makes it all the more important to fight the charge in court with an aggressive Maine criminal defense attorney on your side.

If you or someone you know is facing a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) charge, I encourage you to contact The Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Nielsen will take the time to answer your questions and put your mind at ease. In this article we will review the Maine Operating After Suspension charge, and what you can do to help your defense.

How can my driving license be suspended in Maine?

There are a number of ways that a person’s Maine driving license can go under suspension, including:Maine Operating After Suspension Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS)

  • An offense for Operating Under the Influence (OUI)
  • Failure to appear at court for scheduled court dates
  • Failure to pay fines or child support
  • A conviction for Driving to Endanger (DTE)
  • Suspension due to demerit points on your driving record, such as for multiple traffic infractions

This list is by no means exhaustive. When a person’s license goes under suspension in Maine, the Court or the Bureau of Motor Vehicles takes physical custody of your driver’s license.

Reinstating Your License

It is important to note after your license was suspended, in order to get it reinstated you need to pay a $50 reinstatment fee. Paying this fee is a pre-requisite for your Maine Driver’s License to be valid.

What is a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) Charge?

The Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) Statute defines a violation as operating a car or other motor vehicle on a public way or parking area when that person’s license has been suspended or revoked. A person charged with a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) has not yet been designated as a Habitual Offender by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

The statutory elements of a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) charge include that the person was put on notice that their license was under suspension. Some of the ways the person can receive “notice” of their license being under suspension include:

  • Having a written notice from the Secretary of State sent to their last known address informing them that their license is under suspension.
    • It is important to understand that under the law, a person is “deemed” as having notice if the BMV sends the notice of suspension to the last known address of the person that the BMV has on file.  If you have moved and have not updated your address with the BMV, then you cannot claim improper notice as a defense. As per statute, all the BMV is required to do is send the notice of suspension to your last known address and the BMV does not pay to have its mail forwarded to a forwarding address.
  • Being informed that their license is under suspension from a law enforcement officer or the Court.
  • Otherwise having knowledge of their license suspension

A Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) charge is a “strict liability” crime.. This means that being charged with an Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) does not take into consideration the person’s state of mind at the time of the offense. For example, it does not matter whether the defendant “knew” that they were driving on a suspended license, or if the defendant intended to drive on a suspended license. If the person was driving while having a suspended license, it means they have violated the law and are charged with a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) charge, period.

A Maine Operating After Suspension( OAS) charge is a Class E misdemeanor. For a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) conviction, there are mandatory minimum penalties. Mandatory minimum penalties are the least severe penalties allowed by law upon conviction. They cannot be reduced further or negotiated down by your criminal defense lawyer. The mandatory minimum penalties for a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) conviction include:

  • First offense Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS)- Mandatory Minimum fine $250.00.
  • Second or Subsequent Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) offenses- Mandatory Minimum fine $500.00.

The maximum penalties for a Class E misdemeanor include up to a $1,000.00 fine and up to six (6) months jail time.

Can a Person from another State be charged with a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) Charge?

Yes it is possible to be charged with a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) Charge for an out-of-state person to be operating a motor vehicle in Maine with a suspended license. This can happen one of two ways, either their home state suspended their license, or Maine suspended their right to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Maine, and they were stopped while operating a motor vehicle in Maine.

Is the Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) penalties different if a prior drunk driving conviction exists?

If your license was suspended due to a drunk driving offense, a conviction of Maine Operating After Suspension(OAS) otherwise known as OAS for OUI triggers stiffer mandatory minimum penalties, including:

  • First Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS for OUI) after a drunk driving offense- Minimum fine of $600.00, mandatory seven (7) days jail time, and at least one year additional license suspension time.
  • Second Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS for OUI) after a drunk driving offense- Minimum fine $1,000.00, mandatory thirty (30) days jail time, and at least one year additional license suspension time.
  • Third Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS for OUI) after a drunk driving offense- Minimum fine $2,000.00, mandatory sixty (60) days jail time, and at least one additional year license suspension time.
  • Fourth Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS for OUI) after a drunk driving offense- With three or more prior convictions for Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS for OUI) after a drunk driving offense within a 10-year period, Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS for OUI) is charged as a Class C felony. Minimum fine $3,000.00, mandatory six (6) months jail time, and at least one additional year license suspension time.

The maximum penalties for a Class C felony include up to $5,000.00 fines and up to five (5) years jail time. Reinstatement of your license after an Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) may require that you meet certain obligations to the BMV, such as paying reinstatement fees or requiring installation of an Ignition Interlock Device.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help with a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) Charge?

Because a suspended license can have such a huge impact on client’s lives and livelihoods, it is essential that I give them the best legal defense possible. Here are some of the avenues of attack an Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) Criminal Defense Attorney can take in building your defense:

Questions about the stop- In Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) cases, the incident usually occurs when the defendant is stopped by law enforcement, such as for a broken tail light or expired inspection sticker. Even though this is the most common way that an Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) is discovered, the officer nevertheless needs a legitimate reason to pull you over.

Questions about Notice- Since Notice is a required element of Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS), were you given the requisite notice in order to become aware that your driver’s license has been suspended?  Were you informed by the Court or police officer that your license was under suspension?

Questions about where you were driving- Since an Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) charge requires that you be operating a motor vehicle on a public way or a parking area, where were you operating your car?  Did law enforcement actually observe you operating the motor vehicle or was it based off of a tip?

Questions about the BMV- Did you pay all of your reinstatement fees to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles? Did you pay your fines to the Court? Did the BMV update your information in their system so that law enforcement would read your license as “active”? Your criminal defense lawyer will dig for and find the answers.

Questions about Insurance- In situations involving an SR-22 requirement, was your license suspended for a lack of automotive insurance? Often I find that insurance carriers fail to inform the State that you are insured if you switch insurance companies or renew an insurance policy. This causes more problems then one would think…

Most importantly, even though Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) is a low level misdemeanor, it does not mean that it would be no big deal if you pled guilty. Multiple Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) charges on your record could result in a designation as a Habitual Offender (HO) from the BMV. Because the charge affects your ability to drive independently, it is worth the fight.

Unified Criminal Docket Procedure- Portland and Bangor

Even though there is a very narrow situation of a Fourth Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) charge after a drunk driving conviction in which Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) is a felony, below I will describe the most common court procedure for an Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) charge as a misdemeanor.

After being summonsed for Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) at the Unified Criminal Docket, your first court date is your Arraignment, where the details of the charge are read to you, and you have the opportunity to answer the charge in the form of not guilty. Depending on the town you live in, such as in Cumberland County, Maine, your Arraignment might be at a local District courthouse. After your Arraignment, all remaining court dates would be at the Unified Criminal Docket in Portland.

The next court date at the Unified Criminal Docket is the Dispositional Conference, where the attorneys negotiate a potential resolution to the case without going to a trial. In Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) cases, often a resolution can be reached at the Dispositional Conference in the form of a plea arrangement. One example of a plea agreement is a Filing. In a Filing, the State sets aside the charge for a period of time, usually for one year, pending the defendant’s good behavior. At the end of the Filing period, and the defendant has stayed out of trouble, then the charge would be dismissed.

In the event that no resolution is reached at the Dispositional Conference, the case would progress to the Motion Hearing, Jury Selection, and Trial. A motion hearing would be held only if there were any pending pretrial issues, such as a Motion to Suppress. If no pretrial issues exist, then the case would move on to selecting a jury and a trial. The role of the jury is a fundamental American Constitutional right- to be judged guilty or not guilty by a jury of your peers at trial.   Generally, OAS cases rarely reach the trial stage of the process.

District/Superior Court Procedure, York, Cumberland, Kennebec, etc.

Similar to the Unified Criminal Docket, the first court date for the typical Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) case at the District and Superior Courts is Arraignment.   If the defendant retains a criminal defense attorney before Arraignment, the attorney can appear on the defendant’s behalf at court, or the criminal defense attorney can submit a plea of Not Guilty to the court in advance of your Arraignment.

Depending on the facts of the specific Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) case, I may have the case stay at the District Court, or I may submit a Jury Trial Request, which requests the case to be transferred to the Superior Court, where a jury trial is available. Similarly, if there are any pretrial issues, such as a Motion to Dismiss or a Motion to Suppress, these would also be submitted for pretrial hearing.

If the Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) case stays at the District Court, the Bench Trial would be held in front of a Judge. If the Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) case were moved to the Superior Court, then the defendant’s first court date at the Superior Court would be a Dispositional Conference, similar to the court date at the Unified Criminal Docket. If no resolution to the case is found at the Dispositional Conference, then the case would progress to pretrial motions (if issues exist), jury selection, and trial. At the end of the Jury Selection, 12 jurors and a few alternate jurors are selected, or “impaneled.” A trial is a defendant’s “day in court,” including presentations of testimony and evidence from both sides. Then the case is handed to the jury for a determination of guilt or innocence.

Contact a Maine Criminal Defense Attorney

Dealing with a Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) charge should not be taken lightly. It is a quick slippery slope and suddenly your future is at risk.  It is important that you take swift action to have an advocate counsel you how to navigate the Maine legal system and assure there is minimal impact to your future.  There are proven strategies to defending Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) 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. Whether the first Maine Operating After Suspension (OAS) is due to drunk driving, failure to pay child support or being convicted of driving to endanger, 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 charged with a Maine Operating After Suspension Charge, 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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