This past year, the Maine Governor passed a new law changing license suspensions from the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) for people charged with drunk driving for the first time. This law takes effect in December 2013.
What is the Change Taking Effect in December 2013?
Before, if you were charged with drunk driving, the BMV suspended your driver’s license for ninety (90) days. Starting in December 2013, if you are charged with drunk driving, the BMV will suspend your license for one hundred fifty (150) days. This is a longer suspension for first-time OUI offenders.
The new law would allow first-time OUI offenders to become eligible for a restricted license with the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) after thirty (30) days. An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breathalyzer machine that is connected to your car’s ignition. You blow into the ignition interlock device to start your car. If the ignition interlock device measures any alcohol on your breath, the car will not start. An ignition interlock device prevents people from driving with alcohol in their system.
A first-time OUI offender becomes eligible for an IID after completing a Driver Education and Evaluation Program (DEEP) course. Completing a Driver Education and Evaluation Program (DEEP) course is required before the BMV reinstates your license. An applicant must also have paid all of their license reinstatement fees to the Maine BMV beforehand as well.
If the first-time OUI offender cannot afford an ignition interlock device (IID), then the only option availble is to not drive. After serving two-thirds of their longer license suspension, 100 days, the person can become eligible for a restricted license if all license reinstatement fees are paid and you are already DEEP compliant. A restricted license allows individuals to drive between home and work, within the scope of their work and to and from any required counseling.. The person has the restricted license for the last fifty (50) days of the 150-day license suspension. At the 150-day point, if you are already Driver Education and Evaluation Program (DEEP) compliant and have paid all of your license reinstatement fees previously, your license becomes fully reinstated. It is always a good idea to become DEEP compliant and pay all license reinstatement fees as soon as possible.
Does the New Law Affect Other Drunk Driving Cases?
The new law pertains to first-time drunk driving offenders only. Maine law remains the same for Second and Third time OUI offenders. In Second and Third Offense drunk driving cases, the ignition interlock device (IID) is involved:
- Second Offense OUI Conviction– For a Second Offense OUI conviction, the person becomes eligible for an ignition interlock device (IID) after nine (9) months of a three (3) year license suspension. The ignition interlock device (IID) must be installed for a minimum of two (2) years.
- Third Offense OUI Conviction– For a Third Offense OUI conviction, the person becomes eligible for an ignition interlock device (IID) after three (3) years of a six (6) year license suspension. The ignition interlock device (IID) must be installed for a minimum of three (3) years.
Impact Summary of the New Law
The opportunity to get back behind the wheel after 30 days might sound like a great idea. However, it is a great idea only for those who can afford it. Getting your license back after a drunk driving charge is expensive. Just some of the out-of-pocket costs associated with getting your license back are:
- Completing the Driver Education and Evaluation Program (DEEP) Course– A DEEP course in Maine for an adult costs $300.00.
- BMV license reinstatement fee– In Maine, the license reinstatement fee is approximately $50.00.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)– According to www.ignitioninterlockdevice.org, installing an ignition interlock device (IID) can cost between $50.00 and $200.00.
- Monthly rental of an ignition interlock device (IID)– According to www.ignitioninterlockdevice.org, the monthly rental fee for an ignition interlock device (IID) can cost between $50.00 and $100.00 per month.
- Regular maintenance of an ignition interlock device (IID) – As an alcohol breath testing machine, the ignition interlock device (IID) requires regular maintenance, such as calibration. According to www.ignitioninterlockdevice.org, the ignition interlock device (IID) should be brought in for maintenance every 60 days.
In my experience, clients who do not have extra cash on hand may have trouble affording all of the expenses associated with the ignition interlock device (IID). As a result, these people have no choice but to suffer through a longer license suspension of 150 days. Not everyone has easy access to public transportation. Not everyone can afford a private taxi either.
Potential Problems with an Ignition Interlock Device
In my law practice, I anticipate questions from clients about Ignition Interlock Devices. Also, I predict seeing more activity in the law involving violations with Ignition Interlock Devices. The Maine Statute pertaining to ignition interlock device is 29-A M.R.S.A. §2508. Some of the potential problems that you can run into include:
- Driving a car without an ignition interlock device (IID)– What if the car with the ignition interlock device (IID) needs maintenance and the client still needs to get to work on time? Under Maine statute, a person with an IID may not drive any other vehicle besides the one with the IID.
- Attempting to Disconnect the ignition interlock device (IID) – Tampering with the ignition interlock device (IID) device in any way is considered a Class E misdemeanor. Penalties for a Class E crime can include fines and up to six (6) months jail time.
- Asking someone else to blow into your ignition interlock device (IID) – Asking someone else to blow into your ignition interlock device (IID) for the purpose of starting the car is also not permitted, and the violation can be penalized by the State.
If you are not careful with the ignition interlock device , you can be charged with additional crimes.
What are the Unintended Consequences?
Many may appreciate the opportunity for shorter license suspension with an ignition interlock device. What they may not know are the unintended consequences the law might bring. Here are some of the potential consequences of the new law, both good and bad:
- We might see fewer Second OUI charges while the ignition interlock device is installed.
- An ignition interlock device does not prevent drunk driving due to drugs.
- Without an ignition interlock device installed, and a longer license suspension, more people might lose their jobs if they cannot get to work on time.
- Increased demand for ignition interlock device installations and maintenance from first-time OUI offenders.
Only time will tell how these questions will be answered. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the new law. I encourage you to contact The Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation. I will take the time to answer your questions and put your mind at ease.