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Maine Law: Under 21 Alcohol Violations

There is a temptation for youth (under the age of 21) to consume alcohol before it becomes legal. If you attend college, some students may be over 21, and others may not.  At college, there might be a mindset that alcohol is “no big deal.”  Unfortunately, until you turn 21, alcohol can be a very big deal indeed.

Do you want to pursue a career in child psychology?  Do you want a summer job as a camp counselor?  In many instances, an alcohol violation on your record might prevent you from being able to pursue these things.  An alcohol violation on your record before you turn 21 can have a big impact on your life, above and beyond a fine, including:

  • Some career fields take alcohol violations more seriously than others
  • The alcohol violation goes on, and remains permanently on your adult record, which is able to be viewed by any future potential employers
  • An alcohol violation might make it more difficult to get into the school or college that you want
  • If the alcohol violation was connected in any way with driving a car or other motor vehicle, then you would be facing stiff license suspension time, as well as the violation appearing on your driving record

If you or someone you know is facing an alcohol violation as a minor, I encourage you to contact The Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation with an experienced defense lawyer.  We are happy to meet with you to answer your questions and to put your mind at ease.

The intent of this article is to share the impacts of under 21 alcohol violations and what to expect if you are facing these charges.  This article will review:

Underage alcohol violations are a complex legal matter to understand.  In order to review the different scenarios and legal impacts, below is a fictional story to set the stage of under 21 alcohol violations.

Story about Under 21 Alcohol Violations

Tim and Bud are lifelong friends.  It is their last summer before they both head to different colleges.  Along with some friends, the stayed at a friend’s cottage near York Beach to pass the weekend.  Tim and Bud carry their small cooler full of beers to the top of a lifeguard tower to watch the tides as night comes and the street lights come on, as well as to meet girls.  Just talking, joking, and drinking beers, they feel like kings.

Maine Law: Under 21 Alcohol Violations

Maine Law: Under 21 Alcohol Violations

That is, until a cop on a bicycle rides up to them and asks what they are doing in the lifeguard’s tower when they are not supposed to be up there.  When Tim and Bud climb down, the cop asks what is in their cooler.  After seeing their beers, the cop asks for some identification from both of them.

While Tim had his own driver’s license on him showing that he is underage; Bud did not have any ID on him but swore to the cop that he was 21.  Unfortunately for the two of them, the cop was not convinced.  Both of them were placed under arrest and brought to the police station, where they were given breathalyzer tests.  Both had BAC levels that were under 0.08, but nevertheless positive.  Both were issued civil Summonses for a Minor Consuming Alcohol.

The worst part was when Tim and Bud had to make the phone call to get one of their friends to pick them up.  Their friends are going to talk about this, and their parents are surely going to find out.

How a Maine Criminal defense lawyer can help

Anyone can make a  mistake when they are young.  The key is to take care of the problem now so that it does not haunt you later in life.  Even though the charge is a civil violation, it is still worth your while to invest in a Maine Criminal defense lawyer.  Since Tim and Bud were both facing violations stemming from the same incident, they are considered to be “co-defendants.”  Because Tim’s and Bud’s individual interests are at odds with one another, generally each co-defendant should hire separate legal counsel.

Some approaches your lawyer can take in a civil alcohol violation include:

  • Advocate Aggressively with the District Attorney. Your defense lawyer can take an approach in civil alcohol cases to negotiating heavily with the District Attorney for a favorable resolution.  Assuming that Tim and Bud are good kids that were not troublemakers at school, and neither of them has a Juvenile Criminal record, then there is a good argument to be made that this incident is not characteristic of their behavior, nor does this incident say anything about their potential to grow into productive citizens.  Often, civil alcohol violations can be resolved outside of the courtroom by the lawyers.
  • Motion the Court to Suppress the Stop. Regardless of your age, police must respect your Constitutional rights when conducting an investigation.  Did the cop have a valid reason to confront Tim and Bud?  In this instance, Tim and Bud were not allowed to be sitting in the lifeguard tower, making that stop legitimate.  But what if they had been sitting on beach blankets in the sand and not disturbing anyone?  Then the cop would have had needed more of a reason to confronting them on the beach.
  • Challenge any chemical test evidence, such as the Intoxilyzer. In this case, Tim and Bud were asked to give chemical tests, such as an alcohol breath test, also known as an Intoxilyzer.  Just like in any other case where there is chemical evidence, such as defending an OUI, the cop performing the test needs to be properly certified, and the test needs to be conducted properly, or else the result might not be reliable.

Maine Law for Underage Alcohol Violations

Overall, if you are under 21, any activity that is associated with alcohol is prohibited.  Title 28-A M.R.S.A Section 2051 governs intoxicating liquors in Maine.  The following are acts that are explicitly prohibited by minors:

Minor Purchasing Alcohol

In Maine, a minor is prohibited from buying or purchasing alcohol, including “imitation liquor.”

Minor Possessing Alcohol

If you are under 21, you are not allowed to possess any alcohol, period.  Nor is a person under 21 allowed to have alcohol on their person at any bar or restaurant, or any premises licensed for the sale of liquor to be consumed on the premises.

A minor “possessing alcohol” also includes possessing any equipment intended for the purpose of fermenting or manufacturing alcohol.

The only exception to this law is when the person under 21 possesses or transports alcohol in the scope of their employment, such as driving a truck transporting alcohol to a vendor, or is possessing alcohol while under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian.

Minor Consuming Alcohol

If you are under 21, you are not permitted to consume alcohol.  The only narrow exception to this rule is if you are consuming alcohol at home and in front of a parent or legal guardian.  Unfortunately, older siblings or cousins do not count as “legal guardians” for this purpose.

Fake ID Cards

There are a number of underage alcohol violations that are connected to the use, sale, or possession of fake ID cards:

  • Presenting a fake ID for purpose of “ordering, purchasing, attempting to purchase, or otherwise procure or attempting to procure the serving” of any alcohol, liquor, or imitation liquor.
  • Presenting a fake ID for the purpose of gaining access into a bar or other over 21-only establishment.
  • Possessing a fake ID on your person
  • Selling or attempting to sell a fake ID to an underage person
  • Giving a fake ID to an underage person so that they can attempt to access alcohol

Penalties for Underage Alcohol Violations

For the above violations, the fines are outlined as follows:

  • For a First Violation, the fine is a minimum of $200.00 up to $400.00.
  • For a Second Violation, the fine is a minimum of $300.00 up to $600.00.
  • For a Third Violation, the fine is a mandatory $600.00, which cannot be reduced or negotiated down.

As an alternative to the above fines, or in addition to the above fines, the Judge may assign the under 21 defendant to perform community service or other charity work as a part of their penalty.

The part that will often blow the minds of potential clients who are under 21, all of the above violations become completely legal after they turn 21.  You would be able to possess alcohol, get into bars with your own legitimate ID, and purchase alcohol legally without any raised eyebrows.

Other types of alcohol-related trouble a young adult can get into can be more serious in nature.

What if the Underage Alcohol Violation Involves a Car?

When an alcohol violation occurs, and the offense involves the operation of a car or other motor vehicle, the person under 21 learns the hard way what the State of Maine means when it talks about “zero tolerance.”  In Maine “zero tolerance” means that if you are under 21, the only acceptable blood alcohol level you can have is 0.00, or “triple zeroes.”  If you violate this law, you can expect to face some harsh treatment from the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

And in some instances, the underage alcohol violation is actually a criminal charge and not a civil violation.

Minor Transporting Alcohol

If a minor is found to be transporting alcohol in their car or other motor vehicle, this is considered to be a civil violation.  However, such a violation, if there is a conviction, would also trigger a license suspension from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) for a period of thirty (30) days.  28-A M.R.S.A. Section 2052.

Operating Beyond License Restriction

When a person under 21 operates a motor vehicle with less than 0.08 blood alcohol content, then this is considered to be a Class E criminal charge of Operating Beyond License Restriction.  Until you turn 21, you have to abide by the zero tolerance law.  And so if you drive a car with any amount of alcohol in your system, then you are driving a car beyond what your license allows you to do legally.  If convicted of a Class E misdemeanor crime, the penalties include up to $1,000.00 in fines and up to six (6) months jail time.  In addition, the BMV will impose a mandatory suspension of your driver’s license for one (1) whole year.

Underage Operating Under the Influence

If you operate a motor vehicle with 0.08 blood alcohol content or above, then you would be charged with Criminal OUI.  A first offense for Criminal OUI is a Class D misdemeanor crime.  A conviction can include mandatory minimum penalties, which are the least severe penalties allowable by law, such as a hefty fine and license suspension time.  For more information about facing an OUI charge while under 21, check out my article where this topic is discussed at length.

What about license reinstatement?

If your underage alcohol violation involves driving a car, and your license is suspended by the BMV, then before you could get your license back, you would need to become DEEP compliant.  This means completing a DEEP course.  If you are under 21, then you would take the appropriate Under 21 DEEP course.  If you do not finish your DEEP course on time, your license would not be reinstated.   Take note:  DEEP is required for all alcohol related suspensions, not just OUI.  Therefore if you are charged with Operating Beyond Licence restirxtion because your BAC was a 0.04, then you would have to take and complete the DEEP course before you can reinstate your license.

Potential Outcomes for Under 21 Alcohol Violations

With the assistance of a defense lawyer, here are some of the possible outcomes in an under 21 alcohol violation case:

  • Dismissal. In the best case scenario for our friends Tim and Bud, the District Attorney might agree that they deserve a second chance, and the alcohol violation would be dismissed.  A dismissal is the best possible outcome in a civil violation or a criminal case.
  • Filing Agreement. In a Filing Agreement, the State would set aside the violation for a period of time pending your good behavior.  This would give the accused person an opportunity to show that they have learned their lesson from the experience and not get into any more trouble in the future.  If the defendant is successful in staying out of trouble, the State would dismiss the violation.
  • Trial Verdict. If they chose to do so, Tim and/or Bud could decide to take their case to a trial.  The outcome of that trial would be a verdict.  A verdict is considered the end point of the case.

Court Procedure for Under 21 Alcohol Violations

At Court, an alcohol violation is designated with a “VI” in the Court’s docket number.  This is different from the “CR” designation that the Court assigns to criminal cases.  Often the civil violations are heard at court alongside the criminal cases.  This does not mean that the civil violation has suddenly become a criminal charge.  Here is the typical court procedure for a civil alcohol violation; note that the court procedure for a civil violation is the same as the court procedure for criminal cases at the Unified Criminal Docket:

Maine-OUI-Court-Process

Arraignment

An Arraignment is the first court appearance in a civil alcohol violation.  The only difference between an Arraignment on a civil violation and an Arraignment on a criminal charge is instead of pleading Not Guilty, you would enter an “admission” or “denial” to the violation.

Dispositional Conference

The Dispositional Conference is the first opportunity to reach a resolution to the case.  In many civil alcohol violation cases, the matter is resolved at the Dispositional Conference.  However, depending on the specific facts of the incident, you might want to pursue the Motion Hearing and possible Trial.

Motion Hearing

If the lawyer finds any problems with the State’s investigation, then there might be a pretrial motion set for the Motion Hearing, such as a hearing on the Motion to Suppress.  A Motion to Suppress petitions for any evidence obtained in violation of the defendant’s civil rights to be “suppressed” from evidence, or kept out of evidence at trial.  The Judge determines the outcome of the Motion Hearing.

Trial

Similar to a criminal case, you get the opportunity for a full testimonial trial, with one significant difference.  While criminal cases have the highest burden of evidence in the legal system, called “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a civil trial has the less stringent burden of evidence called a “preponderance of the evidence.”  Under a “preponderance” standard, if it is “more likely than not” that you committed the alcohol violation, then that civil violation would go on your permanent record.

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OUI on an ATV in Maine

All-terrain vehicles, also known as ATVs, are popular in Maine for both transportation and recreation. Maine residents and tourists alike enjoy Maine’s ATV trails as a way to get closer to Maine’s natural beauty. Since many ATV riders are taking this time away on vacation, some might also like to enjoy their ATV ride along with a drink or two. Unfortunately, these people would be taking a risk, just like as if they had been drinking and driving on a crowded highway. Often, people can get confused when it comes to the concept of operating under the influence (OUI) while operating your ATV. While many people might know that OUI while driving your car is a crime with serious consequences, people might not know what to expect when the OUI charge is from driving an ATV. In fact, there are consequences for an ATV OUI, and many of these consequences are similar to OUI from driving a car.

The drunk driving laws In Maine are referred to 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, riders who operate an ATV 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 Operating ATV under the Influence charge rises under title 12 (conservation). Simply stated OUI on an ATV is very similar to Operating Under the Influence while driving.

Those charged with Operating an ATV under the influence in Maine need to understand what the law actually states and what the penalties and sentence could be. This article will highlight:

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 operating an ATV 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. As there as subtle nuance and facts to understand the repercussions and impacts of being charted with an OUI on an ATV in Maine, below is a scenario of how a person can end up getting charged with OUI on an ATV through the fictional client, Andy.

Story about OUI on an ATV in Maine

Andy is an avid ATVer in Maine. He lives on a rural Maine road within easy access to several ATV trails. Hardly any motor vehicle traffic passes through. Andy has a physically demanding job in construction, and so he takes out his ATV for a spin as often as possible to unwind. Andy likes also to enjoy a few beers while out on his ATV rides.

OUI on an ATV in Maine

OUI on an ATV in Maine

One Saturday afternoon, Andy gets a total surprise turning a corner on one of his favorite trials. An Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Game Warden had set up an ATV roadblock to check everyone’s ATV registration. The warden signals for Andy to pull over, and then asks for a copy of Andy’s ATV registration. Andy is indignant about being stopped and mutters, “what is this, a ‘North Woods Law’ gotcha?” The warden comments that he smells alcohol on Andy’s breath, and a quick look-over of his ATV reveals a half-consumed 6-pack of beer hanging off of Andy’s ATV handlebars.

The next thing Andy knows that he is performing field sobriety tests, which he feels that he “passed,” and then the warden takes him down to the local county jail for an alcohol breath test, where he blows a 0.09. Andy is charged with OUI on his ATV.

Maine Statute for OUI on an ATV

While a typical OUI charge is governed by Maine’s Motor Vehicle statute, operating an ATV under the influence is governed by Maine’s Conservation statute, which focuses on outdoor activities such as boating, hunting, and fishing, among others:

12 M.R.S.A. Section 10701: Hunting under the influence; Operating watercraft, snowmobile or ATV under the influence.

1-A. Prohibition. Prohibitions against… operating under the influence are as follows:

  1. A person may not operate or attempt to operate an ATV:
  • 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; or
  • 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.

 

Just like the OUI statute for motor vehicles, the legal limit for OUI on an ATV is 0.08, and the “impairment” can be from alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medication. If you are under 21, then operating an ATV with any amount of alcohol in your system is considered to be OUI on an ATV.

The Minimum Sentences for Maine Operating an ATV Under the Influence

A charge of OUI on an ATV is a Class D misdemeanor in Maine. The maximum penalties for a Class D misdemeanor include up to $2,000.00 in fines and up to 364 days jail time. If the OUI on an ATV caused someone to be badly injured or seriously hurt, then the charge can be elevated to a Class C felony. The maximum penalties for a Class C felony include up to five (5) years jail time and up to $5,000.00 in fines.

Like your typical OUI, a conviction for OUI on an ATV carries with it certain mandatory minimum penalties, including the following:

  • First Offense OUI on an ATV:
    • Minimum fine of $400.00. Within the past 6 years, if you have ever been adjudicated for refusal to submit to a chemical test, such as provide a breath sample, then the minimum fine for a first offense OUI on an ATV is $500.00.
    • Mandatory 48 hours jail time with the presence of certain aggravating factors:
      • A blood alcohol level of 0.15 or higher;
      • The defendant refused to stop upon request of an officer in uniform while operating their ATV under the influence;
      • The defendant refused to submit to a chemical test, such as a breath sample.
    • Second Offense OUI on an ATV within the past six (6) years:
      • Minimum fine of $600.00. Within the past 6 years, if that person was adjudicated for failure to comply with a chemical test, the fine is a minimum of $800.00.
      • Mandatory minimum 7 days jail time.
    • Third Offense OUI on an ATV within the past six (6) years:
      • Minimum fine of $1,000.00. Within the past 6 years, if that person was ever adjudicated for failure to submit to an alcohol breath test, the fine is a minimum of $1,300.00.
      • Mandatory minimum 30 days jail time.

Upon conviction, the Court may also order the Defendant to participate in alcohol and/or substance abuse education, evaluation, and treatment programs for multiple offenders.

What about my driver’s license?

In Andy’s case, he was stopped on an ATV trail not on a road. Because of this, only the Conservation statute would apply. As long as Andy was on an ATV trail and not on a public road, Andy’s driver’s license should not be affected.

However, what if Andy had been stopped on a public way or a road instead while on his ATV? Had Andy been stopped by a local police officer on the public way or road and found to have been driving his ATV while drunk, then the Motor Vehicle statute (Title 29-A) would apply, and the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) gets involved. If the Maine BMV gets involved, then Andy would be looking at a suspension of his driver’s license in connection with this offense. For more information about what to expect with the BMV, check out my articles about first offense OUI in Maine.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

When the Court considers sentencing for OUI on an ATV, the Court is allowed to consider the Defendant’s prior history of OUI violations and OUI refusals in other activities, such as hunting, snowmobiling, and boating. For example, if in the past Andy had been caught earlier in the year for operating his boat while under the influence while he was out fishing, the Court is allowed to consider this when calculating Andy’s sentence this time around. A criminal defense attorney would be able to warn Andy of this risk, and recommend that he fight the charge so that it might be dismissed.

Regardless of what type of a vehicle Andy was driving, or what law enforcement agency pulled Andy over, the OUI investigation still has to be conducted properly, and in a way that respects the criminal defendant’s constitutional rights. In many ways, Andy’s criminal defense attorney will approach this case in the same way as defending a typical OUI case:

  • Fact finding to Verify the State’s Evidence– Your criminal defense attorney can help to determine the accuracy of the State’s records regarding priors, whether it is based on oral testimony alone, or where any such records have been documented.
  • Problems with the SFSTs– Was the law enforcement officer trained to execute the standardized field sobriety tests? Did the law enforcement officer execute the standardized procedures for the SFSTs properly? Did the law enforcement officer ask about any potential health problems that would affect your performance on the SFSTs?
  • Problems with the Intoxilyzer Machine– Is the law enforcement officer certified to use the Intoxilyzer? Was the Intoxilyzer machine calibrated properly? Did the law enforcement officer observe the proper wait period before obtaining a breath sample? Did the Intoxilyzer read any error messages during testing?
  • Preserving Video Evidence from the Intoxilyzer room- In an OUI where the stop was made at an OUI sobriety checkpoint, the video evidence would be from the Intoxilyzer room at the police station. The single best piece of evidence in an OUI case, whether for the State or the defense, is video evidence.

Possible Outcomes for OUI on an ATV

Here are some of the possible outcomes for a case involving an OUI charge on an ATV:

Dismissal– A dismissal is the best possible outcome in a criminal case. In a dismissal, the criminal defense attorney convinces that District Attorney that the offense should be dropped. A dismissed charge does not have any lasting impact on the person charged.

Filing Agreement– A filing agreement is when the District Attorney “files” away the case, and then waits for a period of time pending the defendant’s good behavior and meeting any filing requirements. For example, for a filing fee, substance abuse evaluation, and one year of staying out of trouble, the State might agree to dismiss the charge against Andy. A filing agreement is considered to be a very good outcome in a criminal case.

Plea Deal – One possible outcome with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney is to resolve the case with a plea arrangement with the District Attorney’s Office. This plea deal ideally would avoid the negative consequences of a conviction, and one that ultimately preserves Andy’s ability to ride and enjoy his ATV.

Note: Before pleading guilty to any charge, you want to 100% understand what pleading guilty for that charge will mean for you. I always recommend to never plead guilty unless under the informed advice of legal counsel.

Jury Verdict– In some District Attorney’s Offices, there is a policy of “no negotiating” OUI related cases. Therefore, depending on Andy’s circumstances, he might have to take his case to trial if he wants to beat the charge. If this is the case, the criminal defense attorney might advise Andy to go forward with a case in front of a jury.

A jury trial is your day in court. If the jury finds reasonable doubt you had committed the crime as charged, then the jury would acquit you. On the other hand, if the jury agrees with the District Attorney that you committed the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt,” then you would be found guilty.

Court Process

In Maine, the process is well underway to transfer all criminal court procedures to the Unified Criminal Docket. In the Unified Criminal Docket system, all criminal court dates are held at the same court and are scheduled to go through the same court date procedure as follows:

Maine-OUI-Court-Process

Arraignment

A typical OUI on an ATV is a Class D misdemeanor, and so the first court date is an Arraignment. Andy’s criminal defense attorney could attend his Arraignment with him in order to see if the District Attorney might be open to negotiating an early resolution to the case. However, at Arraignment, the District Attorney is not obligated to negotiate a resolution at Arraignment. Often at this point, the remaining court dates for Andy’s case are set.

Dispositional Conference

The first opportunity for a potential resolution to the case is at the Dispositional Conference. Here, the criminal defense attorney and the State’s attorney meet to see if common ground can be reached and the case resolved without going to trial. If the attorneys are not able to come to an agreement at the Dispositional Conference, then the case would progress to pretrial motions and potential jury trial.

Pretrial Motions Hearing

Any motion filed pertaining to issues with specific evidence is considered a “pretrial motion.” These motions are heard and argued at the Pretrial Motions Hearing. Since the pretrial motions depend on what specific evidence is contained in the discovery, pretrial motion hearings are not always necessary. If there are no issues for a pretrial motion, then the defendant would not go to this court date.

Docket Call

Docket call is “last call” for plea deals and resolutions before heading to trial. At this point, both attorneys are thinking about putting trial arguments together and prepping trial witnesses. Sometimes, the attorneys can come to a favorable agreement at the 11th hour before a potential trial. If no resolution is reached at Docket Call, then it is too late to negotiate, and trial moves forward.

Jury Selection and Jury Trial

At Jury Selection, 12 jurors plus a few alternates are selected. 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.   When the jury makes their determination of guilty or not guilty, that is the end of the legal case.

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Maine OUI Sobriety Checkpoints

You are driving home after a night out with friends. On the way out of town, you notice the traffic in front of you slowing down, and then come to a single lane moving at a snail’s pace. “Has there been an accident up ahead?” you might be wondering, but then you see a sign that reads “Roadblock Ahead” and see several police cars and orange cones blocking the road. You are about to encounter an OUI sobriety checkpoint.

An “OUI Checkpoint” or “OUI Roadblock” in Maine is when law enforcement sets up a barrier in the road so that they can stop every single car in order to have contact with every single driver for a period of time in order to find who might be driving drunk or committing other traffic violations. Many clients do not like the idea of an OUI sobriety checkpoint. They feel that a roadblock that stops everyone is unfair because it casts too wide law enforcement’s “dragnet.” At worst, some people might feel that using roadblocks to find drunk drivers is a form of “lazy police work.” Granted, most people would prefer to be judged on how they are operating their motor vehicle rather than to be stopped without any reasonable articulable suspicion (RAS) that they are committing criminal conduct. Reasonable articulable suspicion is “more than a hunch” that you might have violated the law. At an OUI sobriety checkpoint, law enforcement does not need to have any reasonable articulable suspicion (RAS) to stop your vehicle.

OUI sobriety checkpoints in Maine are considered by the Courts to be a lawful and legal use of law enforcement power. The State deems drunk driving to pose a high level of risk to public safety. As a result of the severity of the risk drunk drivers can pose to the general public, the Courts have found that that the “suspicionless” intrusion into an individual’s rights at a sobriety checkpoint is legitimate.

Anything that police find in a roadblock is fair game, from expired inspection and registration sticker violations to criminal Operating while Under the Influence (OUI). If you or someone you know is facing a charge of OUI in Maine, I encourage you to contact The Nielsen Group for your free and confidential legal consultation with an experienced OUI defense attorney. I am always happy to meet to answer your questions and put your mind at ease.

Below is a story of a fictional client to illustrate how an OUI sobriety checkpoint can result in an OUI charge.

Story of an OUI from an OUI Sobriety Checkpoint

Harry is vacationing in Maine from out of State. Harry already has one OUI on his record from his home State five years ago. Harry decides to drive to Maine for a long weekend enjoying the summer nightlife in Old Orchard Beach. Harry’s Motel was just over the town border in Saco. Harry enjoys himself at the beach until closing time, having had several drinks during the night. In order to avoid getting caught a second time for OUI, Harry heads out of town “the back way.” However, on his way out of town, he encounters an OUI checkpoint set up by the Old Orchard Beach Police Department.Maine DUI Sobriety Checkpoints

A female officer knocks on his window. Harry obligingly rolls down his car window. The officer appears taken aback by the odor coming from inside Harry’s car as he handed over his license and registration. “So, how many drinks have you had this evening?” she asks. Harry timidly admits to having had three beers. The officer requests he to pull over from the OUI checkpoint to the side of the road. The officer follows him while another officer takes her place at the checkpoint.

Harry is asked to step outside the vehicle for some standardized field sobriety tests. Harry mentions to the officer that he had broken his toe as of late, and says that he “can’t be running all over the place.” Instead the officer pulls out her pen and asks Harry to follow it with his eyes without moving his head. “Sure, I can do that” Harry says. After putting her pen down, the officer asks Harry to repeat the alphabet from G through T and then to count backwards from 88 to 64. When he is done the officer tells Harry that he is under arrest for OUI, and she put him in a police cruiser to be brought to the station for an alcohol breath test, where Harry blew a 0.10. To himself, Harry thought “here we go again.”

Statute for Second Offense OUI

Regardless of whether the police officer’s investigation for OUI arose from observing operational impairment, or from contact with the driver at an OUI sobriety checkpoint, the statutory elements of a Second Offense OUI remain the same:

  • Operating a motor vehicle while;
    • Under the influence of intoxicants; or
    • Having an alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 201 liters of breath.

In Harry’s case, he was behind the wheel when the officer had contact with him, and so he was definitely operating his motor vehicle. Harry admitted to having had “three beers,” and so he admits to having consumed “intoxicants” in the form of alcohol. And, Harry’s blood alcohol was measured at 0.10, which is above the legal limit. And, since he has a prior OUI from his home State, the Maine District Attorney is likely to count this charge as Harry’s Second Offense.

If convicted as charged for this Class D misdemeanor, Harry could face the following mandatory minimum penalties:

  • $700.00 fine (plus fees and surcharges)
  • 7 days mandatory jail time
  • 3 years court-ordered loss of driver’s license

Mandatory minimum penalties are the least severe penalties allowable by law in the event of a conviction. But, the maximum penalties for a Class D misdemeanor include up to $2,000.00 in fines and up to 364 days jail time.

Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and an Out of State License

In any Maine OUI case, the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is involved as well as the criminal court. In this case, Harry’s driver’s license was issued by a State other than Maine. Here are some of the things that Harry can expect in his Maine OUI case:Maine OUI Sobriety Checkpoints

  • Because Harry’s driver’s license was issued by his home State and not Maine, the Maine BMV can only suspend his right to operate a motor vehicle in Maine.
    • As a result, while Harry would be suspended from driving in Maine, he would not be suspended from driving anywhere else as long as his home State does not suspend his license.
    • If Harry’s home State receives notice of the administrative license suspension from Maine, or from a criminal OUI conviction from the Courts, then Harry’s home State could also take action against Harry’s driver’s license. IWhen this happens, Harry would be notified by his home State’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Even though Harry’s license is from a different State, Harry still has the right to a BMV Administrative Hearing to challenge the suspension. Harry’s Maine OUI defense attorney can do this on Harry’s behalf to assure that a Hearing is requested on time, and to represent Harry at the Administrative Hearing itself.
  • Harry will be required to complete the following Maine BMV’s license reinstatement conditions:
    • Become DEEP (Driver Education and Evaluation Program) Complaint
      • While DEEP is required in Maine, other States might offer similar programs so that Harry could complete this requirement closer to home
      • Regardless of where Harry takes his drunk driving prevention course, he is required to register with the Maine DEEP office and pay their registration fee , which typically is $300.00.
  • Pay $50.00 reinstatement fee to the Maine BMV

Regardless whether my client’s driver’s license is from Maine or another State, I always recommend that they complete their reinstatement requirements as soon as possible so as to not delay getting their driving privileges back when the time comes.

How an OUI Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Just because the police were not required to have reasonable articulable suspicion to pull Harry over at the OUI sobriety checkpoint does not mean that the police are not required to perform a solid OUI investigation. In this way, an OUI defense attorney would fight the OUI charge in the same way as if Harry had been stopped in a typical OUI situation.

Since Harry is facing a Second Offense, he wants to avoid the conviction at all costs. An OUI criminal defense attorney knows the law and can persuade the District Attorney to negotiate for the best possible outcome. And, an OUI criminal defense attorney can help you to understand your case and your legal defense better. The following includes some areas where your OUI criminal defense attorney should focus:

  • 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? Did the officer observe the proper wait period before breath testing? Did the machine read any error messages during testing?
  • Preserving Any Video Evidence from the Intoxilyzer room – In an OUI where the stop was made at an OUI sobriety checkpoint, the video evidence would likely be from the Intoxilyzer room at the police station. The single best piece of evidence in an OUI case, whether for the State or the defense, is video evidence.
  • Contemplating Employing Expert Witnesses at Trial – Recall in Harry’s case that his Intoxilyzer measurement was 0.10 when the legal limit is 0.08. This is within 0.02, and within a reasonable margin of error for the alcohol breath test machine. Here, Harry might want to consider hiring an Intoxilyzer expert to challenge the breath test machine and results. An expert’s review is a critical look at the State’s evidence.
  • Contemplating Alcohol or Substance Abuse Treatment – One means of achieving a better negotiating position with the District Attorney is to meet some of their demands before they ask for them by investing early in alcohol or substance abuse treatment.

Possible Outcomes for a Second Offense OUI from a Sobriety Checkpoint

Here are some possible outcomes for Harry in his case:

Favorable Plea Deal- With the assistance of an OUI defense attorney, Harry could gain the opportunity of a favorable plea arrangement with the District Attorney, one that ideally would avoid a second offense OUI conviction. Some alternative pleas to OUI that can be negotiated can include a count for Driving to Endanger (DTE). Even better would be a plea to a charge Reckless Conduct, a charge which does not contemplate operating a motor vehicle.

Note: Before pleading guilty to any charge, you want to be absolutely certain that you understand what pleading guilty for that charge will mean for you. Therefore, I always recommend to never plead guilty unless under the informed advice of legal counsel.

Deferred Disposition– In a deferred disposition, the State accepts a guilty plea from the Defendant, and then contemplates sentencing at a later date. In the time before sentencing, the Defendant is mandated to complete a number of requirements. In the case of an OUI, the State might want the Defendant to have no use or possession of alcohol and undergo a substance abuse evaluation, with follow-through for any recommended counseling. Often when counseling is required, proof of counseling attendance is required to be provided to the District Attorney’s office periodically to assure compliance.

At the end of the “deferment” period, the defendant comes back to court. If the defendant has been successful in going to counseling and staying away from alcohol, then the defendant would get the “upside” of the deferment, usually in the form of a lesser conviction or a dismissal.

Jury Verdict– If the circumstances of your case are appropriate, your OUI criminal defense attorney might advise to take your case to a jury trial. A jury trial is your day in court. If the jury finds reasonable doubt that you had committed the crime as charged, then the jury would acquit you. On the other hand, if the jury agrees with the District Attorney that you committed the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt,” then you would be found guilty.

In the event of a conviction for OUI with a driver’s license from outside Maine, the criminal conviction would go on your record, where the information would be accessible to your home State. Based on this conviction, your driver’s license will be impacted.

Court Procedure for Second Offense OUI from a Sobriety Checkpoint

Here is the court procedure for a Second Offense OUI charge that arose from an OUI Sobriety Checkpoint in the York District and Superior Courts.

Maine Court Process for First OUI Offense

Maine Court Process for First OUI Offense

Arraignment

A Second Offense OUI charge is a misdemeanor. Therefore, Harry’s first court date is an Arraignment at the Biddeford District Court. This is because all criminal cases arising out of the town where Harry was stopped are heard at the Eastern York County District Court. York County has two other District Courts, including the Southern York County District Court in York, as well as the Western York County District Court in Springvale.

Because Harry retained an OUI criminal defense attorney, he does not have to attend his Arraignment in person. His attorney instead took care of entering his Not Guilty plea through the mail.

Bench Trial or Jury Trial Request

When a criminal case starts out at the District Court, there is an opportunity to have either a Bench Trial in front of a Judge, or to request a Jury Trial at the Superior Court. If Harry wants the opportunity for a jury trial, one will need to be requested within 21-days of the Arraignment. In my practice, I generally like to transfer OUI matters to the Superior Court so as to preserve my client’s right to a jury trial. Even if the client does not go through with a jury trial, preserving my clients’ constitutional rights is what is important.

Dispositional Conference

The first court date at the Superior Court would be a Dispositional Conference. A Dispositional Conference is where the attorneys negotiate a potential resolution to the case without going to trial. Harry would have to return to Maine in order to attend his Dispositional Conference. If no resolution is reached that Harry feels comfortable with, then the case would progress towards pretrial motions and jury trial.

Pretrial Motions

Pretrial Motions are any legal motions submitted during the window of time after Arraignment bringing up specific issues, usually pertaining to what evidence would be allowed at trial. The most common pretrial motion that I would file is a Motion to Suppress, which asks that any evidence obtained in violation of my client’s constitutional rights be excluded from evidence at trial. A Suppression Hearing would be held where both attorneys argue for their side of the argument. The Judge makes the final determination what evidence gets included or kicked out at trial.

Jury Selection and Jury 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.   When the jury makes their determination of guilty or not guilty, that is the end of the legal case.

For More Information

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Maine OUI charges impacts on your driver’s license

When facing an OUI charge in Maine, your driver’s license is put at risk in two ways.

  1. The State of Maine will automatically suspend your driver’s license, often within 10 days of your arrest.
  2. If you are found guilty of the OUI charges, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 150 days about five (5) months of time.

If your driver’s license was valid on the day of your OUI arrest, the state of Maine will immediately seek to suspend your driving license.  You must act quickly to challenge the BMV administrative driving license suspension.Maine BMV

When facing an OUI, you are likely going to experience a suspension of your driver’s license.  The best way to challenge the suspension of your Maine driver’s license is to have an attorney represent you at the BMV administrative hearing.  Having an attorney is the most effective you can request an administrative hearing and fight the administrative suspension.  With the aggressive advocacy of an OUI criminal defense lawyer, you can fight the license suspension.  In some cases, you might be able to avoid an administrative license suspension from the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) like this case where I defeated an administrative suspension by showing that the officer failed to follow procedure in administering a breath test. The next step would be for your attorney and you to use the information from the administrative hearing to fight the drunk driving charges in the Maine Courts.

What are My Chances of winning a BMV administrative hearing?

The issues and burden of proof at an administrative hearing are very different from the innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt approach of the criminal courts.  At the BMV administrative hearing, the burden of proof is the preponderance of the evidence standard.  This is due to the fact that the BMV is an administrative agency, and as a result they can suspend your license based on a police report alleging criminal OUI alone.  In most OUI cases, due to the very low administrative burden, the BMV will place your driver’s license under administrative suspension.  It is only at the criminal court where the District Attorney has to prove the charge of first offense OUI “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

With this in mind, as a precaution I always advise my clients that it is necessary that they prepare to experience a temporary suspension of their driver’s license.  However, this does not mean that your license suspension will take effect immediately and that you would be prohibited from driving for the full 150 days for a first offense OUI.  There are things that your OUI criminal defense lawyer and you can do to make this impact on your driving privileges easier.  Here are just some of the strategies that can be implemented:

Request BMV Administrative Hearing to Postpone Suspension

When you receive the letter in the mail, the BMV will give you a date at which time your license is scheduled to go under suspension.  If the address on your driver’s license does not match the address where you actually live, then you might not receive this notice.   You should be aware that Maine places the responsibility of keeping your address current with the BMV on you.  However if you have retained a DUI defense Attorney, you attorney can monitor you license status with the BMV and learn of any upcoming suspensions, and request a hearing.LicenseBoy

When your lawyer requests an Administrative Hearing with the BMV, a remarkable thing happens.  This hearing request will place a stay on your scheduled license suspension date until after the hearing is held.  This means that simply because you requested a BMV Hearing, you will get extra time with an active driver’s license status.

During your extra time with an active license, I recommend to clients that they take the opportunity to get their reinstatement requirements taken care of.  These BMV reinstatement requirements include:

  • Complete a DEEP (Driver Education and Evaluation Program) Course
    • These courses take place over a weekend
  • Pay $50.00 reinstatement fee to the BMV

Become Eligible for an Ignition Interlock Device IID

If you have already completed the DEEP Course and paid your reinstatement fee to the BMV, then after 30 days of a 150 day license suspension for a first offense OUI, you can become eligible for the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID).

During the 30 days mandatory license suspension, you could make temporary arrangements to get transportation to and from work, or maybe you could get some flex time at work.  Then after you get the IID, you would drive the car with the IID for the remainder of the license suspension period.  The time with the IID installed in the car is counted towards your total license suspension period, and so this option minimizes the time you would spend off the road.

Postpone Suspension with Work-Restricted License

This is a special option for those facing a first offense OUI.  Second offense and subsequent OUI offenses cannot get work licenses.  However, if you are facing a first offense OUI, and at work you simply cannot afford to take any suspension time right now beyond the stay for your BMV Hearing, this might be a good option for you.

Unlike the IID, any time you have with an approved work restricted license will not count towards your total suspension period.  In this way, work restricted licenses merely delay the suspension.  Whether a work restricted license is appropriate in your case is something that you would discuss with your OUI defense lawyer.

Adhere to License Suspension to Avoid New Charges

When your driver’s license has been placed under suspension by the BMV, it is considered a crime to continue drive in violation of the suspension.  This offense is known as Operating After Suspension (OAS).  An OAS charge will only compound your OUI-related problems, and so I recommend strongly to clients that they respect the suspension and that they do not drive unless their license has been reinstated.

During your license suspension, and in the most severe circumstances, you might want to consider a temporary lifestyle change in order to make sure that you are not tempted to drive on a suspended license.  Some examples that clients have done include changing their job conditions, such as working from home, changing jobs, and temporarily living closer to work, among other strategies.  Others have found that it is easier to find rides from friends and family.

An Experienced OUI Attorney Can Make a Difference

Looking at the facts, the key points to consider when facing a driving license suspension due to a OUI allegation are:

  1. Having a seasoned OUI attorney who knows what to look for and address at the BMV administrative hearing is a benefit.
  2. The process of challenging an administrative license suspension needs to be done by an attorney.
  3. A attorney can help minimize the amount of time you are without a driver’s license by aggressively negotiating and arguing on your behalf for reduced time or delayed start of the suspension.

The Nielsen group is uniquely qualified to assess your case and help develop a smart legal strategy and aggressive defense.  As you can see below, it is our reputation.

WHAT THEY ARE ALL SAYING
SMART STRATEGY & AGGRESSIVE DEFENSE BRINGS ABOUT RESULTS AND VICTORIES
Went Above and Beyond What We Expected

We were impressed with that we saw and read, and spoke with Attorney Nielsen extensively over the phone. Having a good feeling that he would represent my son well, we went ahead and retained The Nielsen Group.
Since then, and with Attorney Nielsen legal help, my son has turned his life around. Attorney Nielsen was instrumental in negotiating aggressively at the BMV Hearing to reduce my son’s license suspension. His suspension could have been much longer because of the underage passengers in the car, but Attorney Nielsen made sure that did not affect my son negatively, which was a great thing. [Read More]
Supremely Confident in the Nielsen Group’s Global Performance

We have never met Attorney Nielsen in person, but his extensive knowledge of the law and up to the minute mastery of my daughter’s case facts were immediately evident.Attorney Nielsen along with Attorney Ellis and their Office Manager, Shareen, are readily available to respond in a compassionate and detailed fashion. Attorney Nielsen’s approach with his clients is unparalleled. His office strives to leave no question un-addressed, and they research in detail their case with indelible command of the facts.. [Read More]
I trust Attorney Nielsen and feel he was looking out for me

I am writing with my testimonial about my experience with Attorney Chris Nielsen at The Nielsen Group. I was charged with a first offense OUI out of Portland. When I met Attorney Nielsen, I felt comfortable telling him anything about my case. I did not feel judged in any way, and I felt supported through the entire process. He educated me about the law and what was going to happen with my case at court. [Read More]
We offer smart, effective defense strategies

How to Save Time and Money when charged with Maine OUI

If you are facing a criminal charge of OUI, perhaps for the first time in Maine.  The most common misconception about drunk driving charges is that those accused DUI often believe pleading guilty is going to save more over investing in an attorney.  As you struggle with the decision to fight your case or just plead guilty, how do you know which direction is the right one?

First, you need to seriously consider the impacts:How to save Time and money

  • Jail time – If this is not your first offense, you are looking at a mandatory jail time of at least 7 days. If it is your first offense and you have an aggravated charge, you are facing at least 2 days of jail time.
  • Loss of Driver’s License – Any drunk driving charges comes with a suspension of your driver’s license for at least 150 days. What is the cost to you of not driving for 5 months?
    • If you have a prior DUI conviction, then the period of suspension can be from three (3) to six (6) or more years.
  • Fines – The fine imposed for your first offense is between $500 to $2000.
  • Insurance premium increases – Once convicted of a DUI (after trial or by pleading guilty or nolo contender), you can expect to see your insurance premiums to increase at 93% for at least five years.
  • Time Spent in Court – How much vacation time do you have at work to spend on attending court dates?

These are significant impacts for a one time bad decision of drunk driving.  Below are ten (10) suggestions to saving your time and money when facing drunk driving charges in Maine.

The single most important key to getting the most out of your OUI case is to be smart about investing in your OUI legal defense.

The Top Ten Ways to Save Time and Money when charged with Maine OUI

  1. Understand that you should not handle your OUI case pro se. “Pro se” means that you act as your own legal counsel.  While you might think that you would “save money” by not paying a lawyer’s fee, you are not a lawyer.  Defending an OUI case in Maine take specialized training in the law, and the law itself is complex enough to challenge some expert lawyers.  Why would you think that you could perform at the same level as an expert?  If you represent yourself, you will end up either pleading guilty or being found guilty.  This is certainly not an outcome that you would want.

    How to Save Time and Money when charged with Maine OUI

    How to Save Time and Money when charged with Maine OUI

  2. Do Not Plead Guilty. The biggest mistake anyone can make is to rush to the courthouse to plead guilty to OUI.  While you might think that you are “saving time” by going directly to a guilty plea, this will end up costing you much more in the long run.  The criminal conviction is a permanent fixture on your criminal record.  Depending on your job, such as those requiring special licensing or those working with children, they might not tolerate keeping an employee with a drug or alcohol conviction.  This might reduce your overall earning power, which in the long run will both waste your time and your money.
  3. Research OUI in Maine. In order to best evaluate how you want to fight your OUI case, you need to know what questions to ask.  Often, you need to know something about a topic before you can come up with questions to ask about it.  Take some time to find out what Criminal OUI is.  One good source is reading an attorney blog about OUI, such as the articles posted by The Nielsen Group.
  4. Meet with a potential OUI criminal defense lawyer. The single best way to gauge what it will take to fight your OUI case with an aggressive OUI criminal defense lawyer is to meet with that lawyer in person to talk about your case.  At The Nielsen Group, we offer a free legal consultation to people facing OUI charges.  At your in-person legal consultation meeting, you can meet the lawyer, ask questions, and get answers.  You can visit more than one potential OUI defense lawyer if you want to get an idea of the range of what you can expect to pay for legal services.
  5. Know what a DUI Defense Attorney can do for you. A lawyer looks at the evidence, the way the evidence was gathered and the process the police followed during your arrest. A lawyer has experience knowing what to examine to bring up points of reasonable doubt.  Armed with this knowledge and experience l defend clients facing an OUI charge.  Sometimes my probing and questioning can eventually about the complete dismissal of charges even before a trial.  It is possible that the police officer missed a step and did not follow procedure exactly.  What if the blood test was not stored correctly?  Having a lawyer is the best way to assure all of the rules of evidence and your legal rights were followed.
  6. Feel Confident with your choice of OUI criminal defense lawyer. Personal interactions are the best way to find out whether you “like” the lawyer and whether you believe that they will do a good job for your case.  When choosing to hire a lawyer, you want to make sure that you will be comfortable working with this lawyer over the course of several months.  Even though you have the right to a “speedy” trial, what the courts consider “speedy” is very often much slower than what people might expect.  Your attorney can also attend some hearings on your behalf so you do not need to take vacation time off from work or risk losing your job due to poor attendance.
  7. Remember the BMV Administrative Hearing. No OUI case defense is complete without fighting the administrative driver’s license suspension at the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).  Your OUI criminal defense lawyer should be on board with defending your case at the BMV as well as the criminal court.
  8. Meet your Reinstatement Requirements On Time. While the advice to “pay your fees on time” might go against a goal of saving time and money, you will get back on the road sooner and avoid expensive additional criminal charges that will only land you back in criminal trouble.  For example, if you fail to spend the $300.00 on a DEEP Course and pay the $50.00 reinstatement fee to the BMV, your license will not be reinstated.  If you drive without having met your reinstatement requirements, you can be stopped and charged with OAS for an OUI which carries a mandatory minimum 7 days jail and consecutive additional 1 year loss of license.
  9. Understand that District Attorney’s only negotiate with Defense Attorney’s. You may also be under the belief that if you just explained your situation to the district attorney or the judge, you should be able to “negotiate a deal.”  If most cases if you do not have an attorney, the district attorney will support the allegation of OUI and not negotiate the charge.  As for the judge, it is not his role in the court system to negotiate a charge or plea.
  10. Courtroom procedures are time consuming and conduct matters. Remember the first time you moved to a new town or went some place you did not know?  In court, you need to be able to grasp all the little important details of the law.  You need to follow the court procedures to the letter.  You need to know what the impact is of the district attorney’s direct or cross examination and how to respond appropriately.  An attorney knows what to do, how to act and will have already explained to you on how to answer questions while maintaining your legal rights.  An attorney is your guide and having a guide to avoid making a mistake is of value.  Your attorney can also attend some hearings and court dates on your behalf.

If you have more questions about drunk driving charges, contact the Nielsen Group located in downtown Biddeford.  The Nielsen group is uniquely qualified to assess your case and help develop a smart legal strategy and aggressive defense.  As you can see below, it is our reputation.

WHAT THEY ARE ALL SAYING
SMART STRATEGY & AGGRESSIVE DEFENSE BRINGS ABOUT RESULTS AND VICTORIES
Went Above and Beyond What We Expected

We were impressed with that we saw and read, and spoke with Attorney Nielsen extensively over the phone.  Having a good feeling that he would represent my son well, we went ahead and retained The Nielsen Group.
Since then, and with Attorney Nielsen legal help, my son has turned his life around.  Attorney Nielsen was instrumental in negotiating aggressively at the BMV Hearing to reduce my son’s license suspension.  His suspension could have been much longer because of the underage passengers in the car, but Attorney Nielsen made sure that did not affect my son negatively, which was a great thing. [Read More]
Supremely Confident in the Nielsen Group’s Global Performance

We have never met Attorney Nielsen in person, but his extensive knowledge of the law and up to the minute mastery of my daughter’s case facts were immediately evident.Attorney Nielsen along with Attorney Ellis and their Office Manager, Shareen, are readily available to respond in a compassionate and detailed fashion. Attorney Nielsen’s approach with his clients is unparalleled. His office strives to leave no question un-addressed, and they research in detail their case with indelible command of the facts.. [Read More]
I trust Attorney Nielsen and feel he was looking out for me

I am writing with my testimonial about my experience with Attorney Chris Nielsen at The Nielsen Group. I was charged with a first offense OUI out of Portland. When I met Attorney Nielsen, I felt comfortable telling him anything about my case. I did not feel judged in any way, and I felt supported through the entire process. He educated me about the law and what was going to happen with my case at court. [Read More]
We offer smart, effective defense strategies

Maine OUI and College Students

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 [Read more…] about Maine OUI and College Students

Aggravated First Offense OUI with a CDL

If you are facing a charge of aggravated First Offense OUI with a CDL, you need to be aware of the impacts to your lifestyle. Aggravated First Offense OUI charges result in you facing a significant mandatory minimum fine, jail time and license suspensions.   If your blood alcohol level is above a 0.15, the 1st offense OUI is considered aggravated.   If you have a CDL, there will be impacts to your employment. A conviction for an aggravated First Offense OUI is a class D misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of up to $2000 in fines and 364 days jail time. If you are facing an aggravated first offense OUI with a CDL, you likely have some questions and are looking to see if it is possible to avoid having impacts on your CDL. [Read more…] about Aggravated First Offense OUI with a CDL

Maine Multiple OUIs

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. [Read more…] about Maine Multiple OUIs

Marijuana OUI in Maine

Frank lives in Portland, Maine, where city ordinance permits adults over 21 to possess small amounts of recreational marijuana. Frank goes to visit friends at their Old Port apartment, and he smokes marijuana during the evening. Because Frank does not want to drive drunk, he does not drink any alcohol. Later that evening not being aware of Marijuana OUI in Maine, Frank is confident that he is in the clear to drive home. [Read more…] about Marijuana OUI in Maine