Accused of a violating Maine OUI Laws?
In Maine, driving under the influence is referred to as operating under the influence (OUI). Let’s take a high-level look at the court process for Maine OUI laws. If you are found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or above, you can be arrested and charged with Criminal OUI in Maine. The first thing you need to be aware of is that at the time of the “operation,” you need to be operating a car or other motor vehicle, including motorcycles, motor boats, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), among other motorized vehicles. The second element of an OUI charge in Maine is that you need to be “impaired.” Being impaired includes intoxication by alcohol, but it also includes impairment from illegal drugs, prescription medications, or a combination thereof.
Often when accused of violating Maine OUI Laws, a maze of questions arise, such as:
- “How do I get my vehicle back?”
- “How do I get driving privileges for work”
- “Am I going to go to jail?”
- “How much does a conviction cost?”
- “What other penalties for drunk driving in Maine are there”
- “How accurate is a breath test?”
With so many questions, what is the first step when understanding the court process for Maine OUI Laws?
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
For over 10 years, I have defended individuals accused of violating the Maine OUI Laws. My practice mainly focuses upon defending Operating Under the Influence charges. I have taken additional legal education and training focused on defending those accused of violating Maine OUI Laws. Being accused of drinking and driving carries serious consequences. A conviction will have jail time and fines. Having an attorney by your side during all stages of the investigation is crucial to protecting your rights. I advise you on the nuances of the court process for Maine OUI Laws. In these crimes, the question comes down to can the prosecutor prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I can examine the evidence and the process the police used to arrest you focused upon finding any gaps or questionable items, using my addition legal education focused on defending those accused of Operating Under the Influence.
All Maine OUI arrests follow a certain procedure within the courts. Let’s walk through the Maine OUI Process step by step. In the end you will understand how Maine OUI Laws are measured in the legal process.
THE TRAFFIC STOP
An OUI starts with the traffic stop. If a law enforcement officer observes “signs of impairment,” the officer can pull you over and ask if you have been drinking. “Signs of impairment” can be weaving between the lines on the road, speeding and/or driving too slow, taking wide turns or hitting the curb. You could also be stopped at a roadside sobriety checkpoint. Either way, when the officer meets you at the driver’s side window, that officer will be looking for additional “signs of impairment,” including the classic smell of alcohol coming from inside the vehicle.
At this point, if the officer suspects you might be under the influence of alcohol, the officer may ask you to submit to a standardized field sobriety test (SFST). These tests, sometimes referred to as the “sidewalk Olympics,” are not designed to test your “sobriety” per se, but to test your ability to listen to directions and perform tasks at the same time. You are not obligated to submit to the standardized field sobriety tests. If you are going to refuse to take the SFSTs, you can refuse to take them without a negative impact on you at later court proceedings.
Based on your SFST performance, the officer may have probable cause to believe that you are indeed impaired. With probable cause, you would be taken to a Maine police station for a chemical test. The chemical test test determines if your blood alcohol content is 0.08 or higher. With a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, you would be arrested and charged breaking the Maine OUI Laws. In most cases your offense will be Criminal OUI.
BREATH, BLOOD, AND URINE TESTING
You can depend upon being asked to take a breath test. If there is any reason why you could not provide an adequate breath sample or other reasons, you might find yourself requested to take a blood or urine test. As does any test, there are varying degrees of accuracy. The breath testing equipment requires fine tuning and calibration, as well as a properly certified officer to administer the breathalyzer. The administration of a breath test must be done exactly by the book. In Maine, you are required to submit to a chemical test. If you refuse a chemical test, you can be charged with OUI Refusal, which automatically carries higher mandatory minimum penalties.
If you are suspected of drunk driving in Maine and have not passed the chemical test, you will be taken into custody. First, Miranda rights should be read advising you of your rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present while being questioned by police. We advise you to keep that right to not answer questions and to ask for an attorney. Your personal information, such as biographical information, will be requested by the officer. Next, the officer completes a background check to determine if this arrest is the first OUI offense and check if the accused has a criminal history. Mug shots and fingerprints are taken. The police department takes and stores your personal property before you are placed into the holding cell. Typically, assuming that you are able to make bail, you would spend up to a few hours in holding until you are released.
THE BMV HEARING
In Maine OUI cases, you will not only be facing one, but actually two separate cases in two separate venues. After the arrest and when you receive the notice from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) warning you that your license is going to go under administrative suspension, you have only a limited window to act or you could be at risk for losing your driving privileges. What happens is after your OUI arrest in Maine, the BMV will move to suspend your driver’s license administratively based only on the police report. In an attempt to prevent the administrative suspension of your license, you need to request a BMV hearing. When you request an Administrative Hearing, the Maine Secretary of State will place a “stay” (postponement) on your administrative license suspension date until after the hearing. At the BMV Administrative Hearing, your attorney will present a case on your behalf, and the Hearing presents an opportunity for your attorney to obtain testimony from the arresting officer for use at future court proceedings. If you prevail at the Administrative Hearing, your license will not go under suspension.
Even if your license is not suspended by the BMV, your license may still be suspended from the penalties stemming from an OUI conviction, which also includes fines and possible jail time. The one action you can take quickly to help yourself is to have strong experienced legal representation. Maine OUI Defense Attorney, Chris A. Nielsen, is willing to help guide you through this process and defense for violating the Maine OUI Laws.
You will be formally Arraigned in front of a judge, where you have an opportunity to answer to the charge in the form of your plea of Not Guilty. While standing before the judge, the details of your charges will be read. If the accused cannot afford to pay bail, or if there are objectionable bail conditions, then the issue of bail can be addressed at Arraignment also.
If after reviewing the discovery materials (police reports, etc.) in the case, the criminal defense attorney feels that there are grounds that certain evidence might have been obtained in violation of your Constitutional rights, then the attorney would file an appropriate pretrial motion, such as a Motion to Suppress the questionable evidence. After filing the Motion, a Suppression Hearing is held, and memoranda of law are submitted to the Judge for review. Then, the Judge rules on the motion, determining whether any potentially questionable evidence may be allowed into evidence at trial. If successful, this can result in key pieces of evidence being omitted and not used at Trial.
The pretrial hearing, often called a Dispositional Conference or Docket Call in Maine, 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 evidence against you is faulty in some way, your Maine OUI defense attorney can present these facts to the prosecutor and negotiate regarding your case. In some instances, the case may be dismissed or the charges reduced in the form of a plea deal. As you can see there is a clear benefit to have legal counsel advocate on your behalf. If after reviewing any negotiated offers the Defendant does not wish to accept the deal offered, then the case would proceed to Jury Selection and a Trial.
After the pretrial hearing is the time when attorney Chris A. Nielsen can challenge the State’s evidence against you that was collected in violation of your constitutional rights. Sometimes, this challenge may even result in your case being dismissed altogether.
At the 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 you were operating your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and violated the Maine OUI Laws. Your Maine OUI defense attorney will have the opportunity to cross examine the witnesses, relentlessly examine the evidence to assure correct procedures were used, and even provide expert witnesses to examine the breathalyzer or other technical evidence. The outcome of a Trial is that you will either be found guilty or not guilty either by a Jury or by the Judge. Most drunk driving cases never reach this stage. When you have a strong legal advocate, you have a better chance of resolving the charges before ever reaching this stage.
Contact Maine OUI Attorney Chris Nielsen
If you have been charged with violating Maine OUI laws, please contact The Nielsen Group. Maine OUI Defense Attorney, Chris A. Nielsen, is well known in Maine for providing excellent legal representation for those accused of violating Maine OUI Laws. He has taken additional education courses and training to help someone charged with an OUI in Maine. If you take the opportunity to call him, your calls are routed directly to his competent staff and him. He can help by answering preliminary questions, helping you with your pending court date, and providing a realistic, detailed review of what to expect in court. It will be time well spent as you find out how a Maine OUI attorney can assist you in your defense.
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