In the state of Maine, an individual is guilty of operating under the influence (OUI) if they are driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or above. A Maine OUI is considered equal to an offense of driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) in another state.
Penalties for a Maine OUI include incarceration, a fine, driver’s license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) and participation in the alcohol and drug program of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. At the completion of this program, the individual may be required to undergo substance abuse treatment as part of their plea offer.
First Maine OUI Penalties
For a first Maine OUI, penalties include a minimum fine of $500, 150-day driver’s license suspension and the requirement to attend a state alcohol and drug course. Although an individual can face up to a year in jail, there is no mandatory jail time for a first OUI. If the OUI involves aggravating factors, the individual faces a minimum of 48 hours in jail.
Aggravating factors include driving with a BAC of 0.15 percent or above, exceeding the speed limit by more than 30 mph, eluding or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and operating a vehicle with a passenger under 21.
Penalties for Refusing a Chemical Test
When a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, blood test or breath test, penalties increase to 96 hours in jail, a minimum fine of $600, and 275-day driver’s license suspension, according to Maine Revised Statutes Title 29-A Section 2411 and the Maine Department of Highway Safety’s website, which explains Maine OUI laws. A suspension for a chemical test refusal by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) runs consecutively with, or after, the criminal court’s suspension for the OUI charge. This means an individual with a first OUI conviction with no aggravating factors who refused a chemical test could suffer a total of 425 days of driver’s license suspension, rather than the standard 150-day suspension had they agreed to take a chemical test.
An individual may request a hearing from the BMV regarding an administrative driver's license suspension for refusal to submit to a chemical test. While the request is being processed, the BMV will not stay, or halt, the individual's driver's license suspension. The suspension is dismissed if the individual wins at the hearing. If the driver chooses to install an ignition interlock device (IID), they must wait 30 days of their 150-day license suspension to begin driving again. They are required to keep the IID on the vehicle for the remaining term of license suspension, according to the BMV.
Second Maine OUI Penalties
The penalties for a second offense of drunk driving include a minimum of seven days in jail, minimum fine of $700, three years' driver’s license suspension and the requirement to take a state alcohol and drug course. When an individual refuses to submit to a police officer's request for a chemical test, the penalties rise to 12 days of incarceration and a minimum fine of $900. The period of driver’s license suspension for a chemical test refusal during a second suspected OUI is 18 months.
If the individual chooses to install an IID, they must wait nine months of their three-year suspension to begin driving again. They are required to keep the IID on the vehicle for two years of the driver’s license revocation.
Third Maine OUI Penalties
The penalties for a third OUI offense include 30 days of incarceration, a minimum fine of $1,100, six-years driver’s license suspension and the requirement to take a state alcohol and drug course. If the individual refuses to submit to a chemical test, penalties increase to 40 days in jail and a minimum fine of $1,400. The period of driver’s license suspension for a chemical test refusal during a third suspected OUI is four years, according to the BMV.
If the individual chooses to install an IID, they must wait three years of their six-year driver’s license suspension to begin driving again and are required to keep the IID on the vehicle for three years of the driver’s license suspension.
Work-restricted Driver's License
After a first offense, an individual can apply for a work-restricted license, also known as a hardship license. The petitioner must show by clear and convincing evidence that they need the license to travel between their residence and job or school. The individual also must show that no alternative means of transportation are available, according to Maine Revised Statutes Title 29-A Section 2503.
There is a disadvantage to getting a work-restricted license before the individual is convicted of an OUI. If the individual gets a work-restricted license during this time, the suspension period does not later count against the court-imposed suspension. In contrast, time spent driving with a reinstated license and an IID counts against the BMV’s administrative suspension and the later, court-imposed suspension.
Restricted License for a First OUI Offender
A restricted license is not the same as a work-restricted license. Yet it, too, is available to a first-time OUI offender. In order to get a restricted license, two-thirds of the driver’s period of license suspension must have passed. In addition, the individual must have successfully completed their drug and alcohol program, according to Maine Revised Statutes Title 29-A Section 2501.
The Maine secretary of state may issue a restricted license to a person suffering a driver’s license suspension for their first chemical test refusal if the individual has successfully completed their drug and alcohol program and at least 180 days have passed since the date of suspension.
Severity of OUI Offense
Maine does not classify crimes as misdemeanors or felonies. It types them by letter grade, like A, B, or C, according to the Maine attorney general. A first, second or third OUI is a Class D crime, punishable by up to 364 days incarceration and a $2,000 fine. A fourth OUI is a Class C crime, punishable by up to five years of incarceration and a $5,000 fine.
Deferred Disposition for First Offense
An individual with no prior OUIs in Maine or similar offenses involving drunk driving in another state may be eligible for a deferred disposition, according to Maine Criminal Code Title 17-A Section 1902. A typical deferred disposition agreement for an OUI lasts for one year. It requires the defendant to perform community service, complete a substance abuse evaluation and engage in treatment if recommended. The state typically dismisses the charge if the defendant complies with all terms of the agreement.
Lifetime Look-back Period in Maine
As of August 1, 2014, Maine has a lifetime look-back period for OUIs. The state considers an OUI conviction to be a prior OUI if the defendant was sentenced any time during their life. Before this date, Maine’s look-back period for OUIs had been 10 years.
Conditional License After OUI
After a driver gets an OUI conviction and has their license reinstated, the license reinstatement is conditional. The term “conditional” means that the BMV can suspend the license for one year without a preliminary hearing if the driver operates a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their blood. After a first conviction, a license is conditional for one year. After a second or subsequent offense, it is conditional for two years.
The BMV can suspend a conditional license for two years for any refusal of a chemical test. This penalty will be added to the period of driver’s license suspension stated in the OUI conviction, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Maine Adult Drug Treatment Court
Maine has adult drug treatment courts.) (ADTC), rather than DUI or OUI courts. Entry into an ADTC requires the individual to accept responsibility for their conduct. ADTC court requires that the defendant attend regular status hearings, follow an individualized treatment plan, and submit to random and observed drug testing.
ADTC court offers incentives for compliance, including the successful completion of the sentence in the individual’s plea agreement. A successful completion sentence usually involves serving less time in jail than an unsuccessful outcome sentence.
Drivers Under 21 Years of Age
Maine’s zero tolerance law prohibits a driver under 21 from operating a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in their body. Penalties for violation of this law include a driver’s license suspension for one year. If the driver refuses to take a chemical test, they will suffer a driver’s license suspension of 18 months. If the driver has a passenger under 21 in the vehicle while driving with a blood alcohol level above zero, they will suffer an additional 180-day suspension, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety.
A driver under 21 with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above can be prosecuted for OUI, but their driver’s license suspension will be for one year. If a driver under 21 drives a second time with intoxicants or a blood alcohol level above zero, they will suffer a driver’s license suspension of two years. If a driver under 21 refuses a chemical test for a second time, they will suffer a driver’s license suspension of 30 months, according to the BMV.
Motor Vehicle Forfeiture and Impoundment
Additional penalties for an OUI in Maine include motor vehicle forfeiture and impoundment. The state has the power to order the forfeiture of a vehicle after notice and a hearing. The state will take action if the driver was the sole owner/operator of the vehicle, and they were convicted of OUI and a simultaneous offense of operating after a driver’s license suspension when the first suspension was for a prior OUI conviction, according to Maine Revised Statutes Title 29-A Section 2421. A vehicle may be seized if it is used by a person arrested for an OUI, according to Title 29-A Section 2422.
Out-of-state Drivers with OUI Conviction
If an out-of-state driver is convicted of an OUI in Maine, the Maine BMV will revoke the individual’s right to drive on the state's roads. The BMV will send records relating to the individual’s arrest and OUI conviction to the individual’s home state. If this is the individual’s first offense OUI, they may not be eligible to take a deferred prosecution or DUI diversion program in their home state because deferred prosecution programs can require that the driver’s arrest occur in that state.
If an individual has a prior OUI, DWI or DUI from another state on their record, the Maine BMV will look at the circumstances of the case and the law under which the individual was convicted. When the circumstances and law are substantially similar to those that would cause the driver to be convicted of an OUI in Maine, it is likely that the court will consider the out-of-state offense a prior OUI.
- Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles: Operating Under the Influence
- Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles: Ignition Interlock
- Maine Revised Statutes: Title 29-A, Section 2411, Criminal OUI
- Maine Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Highway Safety: Maine's OUI Laws Explained
- State of Maine, Judicial Branch: Adult Drug Treatment Court
- Office of the Maine Attorney General: Maine Criminal Justice System
- Maine Criminal Code: Title 17-A, Section 1902 Deferred Disposition
- Maine Revised Statutes: Title 29-A, Section 2503, Work-restricted License
- Maine Revised Statutes: Title 29-A, Section 2501, Restricted License
- Maine Revised Statutes: Title 29-A, Section 2421, Forfeiture of Motor Vehicles for OUI
- Maine Revised Statutes: Title 29-A, Section 2422, Impoundment of Motor Vehicles for OUI
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.