Maine has several prestigious colleges and universities, including Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, and the University of Maine system, among others. Often part of the college experience is consuming alcohol, both before and after turning 21. College students might be aware that drinking alcohol before they turn 21 will risk a civil violation for underage drinking. These same students might not be aware that drinking alcohol before turning 21 can entail more serious consequences that can put their entire college career at risk. And these students can get an even more unpleasant surprise if they are charged with drunk driving while attending college. When you are arrested for an OUI as a college student, you face jail time, fines, driving license suspension and increased insurance premiums just like anyone else arrested for drunk driving. Due to these serious consequences, it is vitally important to get help from an experienced Maine OUI lawyer.
If you are a college student facing charges of Maine OUI, you probably have more questions than answers. This article will help you learn about what to expect when fighting a Maine OUI charge and how you can help your defense.
- A common scenario of what happens with College Student Drunk Driving Arrests.
- What to do after arrested for OUI when you are a college student.
- What is the Maine OUI Law for College Students?
- What if there were other college students in the car?
- What are the penalties of a Maine OUI charge?
- What are the impacts to my driver’s license?
- How can an OUI defense attorney help?
- What are the possible outcomes for a first Maine OUI allegation?
- What is the Court Process if fighting my first Maine OUI charge?
If there were any questions that we do not answer in this article, please feel free to contact us.
A common scenario of how a college student is arrested for a first Maine OUI
Let’s consider what might happen within the story of a fictional student named Eddie. Eddie attends a local college. Eddie is majoring in psychology and has aspirations of becoming a counselor who helps people overcome substance abuse and addiction. He is a dean’s list student, participates regularly in the college’s psychology club, and has never been in trouble with the law or at school in his life.
Eddie is 20 years old and a mere two (2) months way from his 21st birthday. He can’t wait! This evening, he went to a mutual friend’s place just off of campus, where a big party is happening. Often, alcohol is served at these parties, but Eddie believes that no one ever gets hurt because it is all in good fun.
Eddie and his best friend, who had just turned 20, plus two underclassmen who are under 21 joined them on the way home back from the party in the middle of the night. Eddie feels that he had sobered up enough to drive, as he had taken a 5-hr Energy shot along with his alcohol.
On their way back to campus, flashing police lights pulled up behind them. Eddie promptly pulled over. The officer asks, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” “Not really” Eddie replied. The officer described that Eddie was driving under the speed limit and he was “all over the place” between the lines. This was followed up with the officer’s question “so how much did you have to drink tonight?” Eddie didn’t think he had that much.
The officer asked Eddie to step outside the car to perform some standardized field sobriety tests. Eddie’s friends were laughing at him as they watched Eddie stumble as he tried to walk in a straight line heel-to-toe and try unsuccessfully to stand with one leg outstretched. His friends stopped laughing when the officer placed the cuffs on Eddie’s wrists. At the police station, Eddie blew a 0.14.
What should Eddie do to Help Himself Right Away?
In his case, Eddie is not old enough to drink alcohol legally. So what should Eddie do right now to help himself?
- Write down what happened: As soon as he gets back to his dorm, Eddie can take some time to write down as much as he can remember about what happened. This will help his lawyer craft a better defense. And, it is a good idea to write things down when your mind is fresh. If Eddie waits to do this, his memory might not be as good.
- Get information about OUI: At first, Eddie might not know what Criminal OUI really means. He can do some basic research about OUI and, more importantly, what it will mean for him. When Eddie looks into OUI, such as reading lawyer blog articles like those on The Nielsen Group website, Eddie might learn that if he pleads guilty, it is going to mean more than just a fine for him. The conviction on his record would put his college career and future profession at risk. Eddie will learn that he is better off fighting the charge.
- Secure payment to hire a lawyer: As a college student, Eddie probably does not have a large sum of money hanging around just in case he might need a lawyer. Eddie will have to consider opening up to have a difficult discussion with family members or trusted friends who could help him secure legal services. After getting information about how an OUI conviction can really hurt him, Eddie understands that he will end up “paying” a lot more in the long run if he just pleads guilty.
- Choose an OUI criminal defense lawyer: Eddie would want a lawyer who he feels comfortable talking to and is confident that will fight for his rights. Here at The Nielsen Group, our goal is to fight the charge at every turn, because we know that you have too much at stake to just plead guilty.
The good news is Eddie’s situation is one I am very familiar defending. For example, please check out a recent result in a case that looked bad for my client.
|RECENT FIRST MAINE OUI CASE VICTORIES|
|Smart Strategy & Aggressive Defense brings about results and victories|
|OUI with a 0.14 BAC||$2000 Fine and 150 day suspension of Maine driver’s license||Case Dismissed|
|The FACTS – An OUI allegation with a blood alcohol level of 0.14. My client was pulled over for a minor traffic violation and admitted to having a few drinks earlier. [Read More]|
|We offer smart, effective defense strategies|
Maine OUI Law for College Students
If the accused is 21 or older, the Maine OUI it is the same as adult regular OUI. If the accused is under the age of 21, legally they are considered a minor. If a minor has any amount of alcohol in their system, they face the Maine OUI allegation and an additional class E charge of Operating Without a License (or Operating Beyond License Restriction) in other words a Zero Tolerance Violation.
With respect to the OUI charge, Maine Law states that:
(29-A M.R.S.A. § 2411, Criminal OUI):
1-A. OFFENSE. A person commits OUI if that person:
- Operates a motor vehicle:
1) While under the influence of intoxicants; or
2) While having an alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breadth;
In order to be convicted of the charge of Criminal OUI, all of the elements of the crime need to be satisfied. First, you need to be operating a motor vehicle, including any transportation powered by a motor. Had Eddie stayed on campus and got drunk with his friends, and then taken the college golf cart out for a joyride, the independently powered golf cart would have also been considered a “motor vehicle” for the purpose of OUI.
Second, you need to be “impaired” by an intoxicant. In this case, the intoxicant was alcohol. But “Intoxication” can be from alcohol, drugs, prescription pills, or a combination thereof. In the case of alcohol, if you are found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher in Maine, you are considered to be legally “intoxicated.” A blood alcohol level of 0.09 is certainly over the legal limit.
With Respect to the Operating Without a License (or Operating Beyond License Restriction) charge, Maine Statutes state that:
- VIOLATION. Except as provided in section 510, subsection 1, a person commits an offense of operating a motor vehicle without a license if that person operates a motor vehicle on a public way or parking area:
- In violation of a condition or restriction on the license.
Violation of this paragraph is a Class E crime, which is a strict
liability crime as defined in Title 17-A, section 34, subsection 4-A;
It is under this language that a minor is also charged with Operating Without a License because of Maine’s zero tolerance policy under 29-A M.R.S.A. § 2472, which in short states that a license holder under the age of 21 can not operate a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system. A violation of this prohibition is that the BMV will suspend a minor’s license for 1 year
Minor Passengers an Aggravating Factor
If certain “aggravating factors” are present in the facts of any DUI Case, the driver’s license suspension time can be even longer. One common aggravating factor in minor under the age of 21 DUI cases is that the minor was not alone in the car when pulled over by law enforcement. If the minor has friends in the car who are also under 21, that minor can be in for more trouble as a result. In this case, the driver’s license suspension can be extended for an additional six (6) months by the BMV, lengthening the total anticipated license suspension time to one and a half years. The minor passenger also triggers the aggravating language under the statute that requires jail time.
Maine OUI Penalties for the College Student’s First Offense
If the college student was under the age of 21 at the time of arrest, they will face one (1) year of a administrative suspended driver’s license from BMV in addition to the penalties list below Eddie’s first OUI Offense in Maine brings with it the following penalties if convicted:
Maine OUI Penalties for the College Student’s First Offense
|Jail Time||48 hours because of the presence of minors in the vehicle at the time of the stop.||Up to 1 year|
|Driver’s License||Court ordered suspension for 150 days in addition to a BMV suspension of 1 year plus six months for the minor passengers./td>||Court ordered and BMV order suspension for 150 days.|
- 48 hours jail time with the presence of certain aggravating factors, including:
- A blood alcohol measurement of 0.15 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 201 liters of breath.
- Criminal Speeding .
- Eluding a law enforcement officer, or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer.
- Drunk Driving with underage (under 21) passengers.
Additionally, according to Forbes Magazine, the college student’s insurance premiums will increase at least 93% for 5 years.
Here, Eddie is going to face an aggravating factor because 1 or more of his passengers was under 21. “Almost 21” is not the same as 21.
College OUI and the BMV
One of the factors that distinguish college OUI cases from a typical adult OUI is the type of driver’s license that the college student holds. If the student is over 21, then their driver’s license will be a full adult driver’s license. However, Eddie was the type of college student with an under 21, “provisional license.” A provisional license means that he is not permitted to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in his system, also referred to as “zero tolerance.” Since the State of Maine takes its “tough drunk driving law” seriously, Eddie is facing a one year long suspension of his driver’s license automatically.
In addition to this suspension, Eddie was caught with under-21 passengers in his car. For each passenger under 21 he was transporting at the time of the OUI stop, Eddie could face an additional 180 day suspension for the underage passengers.
On top of these suspensions, Eddie will face the 150-day administrative license suspension imposed by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). So, he is definitely in hot water with regard to his driver’s license, and Eddie should consider a lawyer to represent him at his BMV Administrative Hearing.
How a College OUI Defense Attorney Can Help
Too often, college students facing an OUI charge rush too quickly to plead guilty. Perhaps they feel embarrassed calling their parents for help, or perhaps they do not fully understand how bad the collateral consequences for them will be. The truth is that when you hire your own OUI criminal defense attorney, your risks of jail time and hefty fines get smaller, and your chances for a dismissal or other favorable outcome increases dramatically. As an experienced OUI criminal defense attorney in Maine, I know how to defend college students who are clients against an OUI charge. If you choose to hire The Nielsen Group, you are more than just another case to us. We put your interests first.
When OUI criminal defense lawyers examine any OUI case, here are some of the questions that arise.
- Problems with the Stop – Did the police officer have a good reason for suspicion to pull you over aligned with your rights? Was the stop of your car for a legitimate law enforcement reason? Did the police officer have the required probable cause to get you to take an alcohol breath test or other chemical test?
- Problems with the SFSTs – Did the police officer tell you that the field sobriety tests are not mandatory? What training did the officer have to properly give the standardized field sobriety tests? Did the officer execute the tests as directed by the standardized procedures? Did the officer fail to ask about any potential health problems that would affect your performance on the SFSTs? Was the test conducted in an area that was well-lit and on a smooth, clean and flat surface? Were you wearing high heels when you performed the field sobriety tests? Were you truly an appropriate candidate for the SFTS’s?
- 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? Was there a variation in the breath readings? When did you consume your last alcoholic drink prior to taking the breath test?
- 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? Was the sample properly preserved?
- Preserving Any Video Evidence from the Police Cruiser/ Intoxilyzer room– The single best piece of evidence in an OUI case, whether for the State or the defense, is the video from the police cruiser documenting the stop, or from the Intoxilyzer room at the police station.
- 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. Since Ted blew a blood alcohol level of 0.08, which is right at the legal limit, he is also within the “margin of error” for the Intoxilyzer machine, which can be off by up to 0.01. When the Intoxilyzer evidence is on the fence, an expert can help clear through the fog to reveal the actual results.
|RECENT MAINE OUI CASE VICTORIES|
|Smart Strategy & Aggressive Defense brings about results and victories|
|THE CHARGE||FACED||THE OUTCOME|
|OUI with a 0.21 BAC||$2000 Fine and 150 day suspension of Maine driver’s license||Not Guilty after Trial|
|THE FACTS – A blood alcohol level of 0.21 was alleged after police arrested in the parking lot by a local grocery story. My client was by his car with an empty alcohol container within easy read of the driver and there was damage to his car. [Learn More…]|
|We offer smart, effective defense strategies|
Potential Outcomes for College OUI
Here some potential outcomes for a college OUI case:
- Dismissal– a dismissal is the best possible outcome in a criminal case. It is when the District Attorney drops the charges and a dismissal is noted on your permanent adult criminal record.
- Filing Agreement– a Filing Agreement is when the State sets aside the case, and then pending the defendant’s good behavior, the case will get dismissed. If Eddie has no criminal record, then the District Attorney might be amenable to a favorable Filing Agreement. Since Eddie is a college student, the District Attorney might come up with some conditions for the student to meet that shows he learned something, such as performing community service or researching and writing an essay about the dangers of drunk driving.
- Deferred Disposition– a deferred disposition is when the State accepts a guilty plea, and then determines sentencing at a later date. Generally, I tell clients to never plead guilty unless under the advice of counsel. Since a deferred disposition involves a entering guilty plea, you will want to be certain that you are comfortable with and capable of completing any requirements due before sentencing is determined. If you are successful in meeting your deferred disposition requirements, then you would get the benefit of the plea bargain, such as a conviction to a lesser crime, like Driving to Endanger (DTE) or even a dismissal.
- Trial Verdict– If the District Attorney’s Office is one of those offices that have an explicit “no negotiation” policy for OUI cases, then your best option is take the case all the way to a trial. When the District Attorney sees that you are standing up for yourself, you might get finally get a good plea offer if they know that their case is weak. Or, you will reveal the State’s weaknesses at Trial, and perhaps even convince the jury of your innocence.
Court Process for College OUI
Usually, first time OUI offenders can make their set bail. Since Eddie might not be likely to pose a risk on bail, he could be released on personal recognizance, which is another way of saying that he “watches himself.” When released on bail, Ted could face a number of bail conditions. In OUI cases, typical bail conditions include do not drive a motor vehicle unless properly licensed and no use or possession of alcohol. Eddie’s first day at court is an Arraignment. At Arraignment, he will have the opportunity to answer to the charge in the form of Not Guilty.
A Dispositional Conference is when the District Attorney and Defense Counsel have an opportunity to meet to negotiate a resolution of the case without the necessity of a trial. If the State’s evidence is weak, the Maine OUI criminal defense attorney can present these facts to the District Attorney as a way to advocate for the most favorable resolution. If no resolutions are reached that are acceptable to Eddie, then the case would proceed to Pretrial Motion Hearings and a Jury Trial.
Pretrial Motion Hearings
After reviewing the discovery materials (police reports, etc.), the OUI criminal defense attorney might identify grounds that certain evidence might have been obtained in violation of Eddie’s constitutional rights. If any are found, then the OUI criminal defense attorney would file a Motion to Suppress. After filing the Motion to Suppress, a Suppression Hearing is held. After Hearing, the Justice rules on the Motion whether the evidence may be admissible at trial.
At Trial, the District Attorney will use the written police report, witness statements, and chemical evidence to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Eddie was operating his motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Eddie’s Maine OUI defense attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine any testifying witnesses, including the arresting officer, and to examine the physical evidence relentlessly to assure the correct procedures were used. The outcome of a Trial is a verdict of either guilty or not guilty.
For More Information
If you found this article helpful, you might also find these articles useful: