Under Maine law, if there is probable cause to believe a person has operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants, that person shall submit to and complete a test. 19-A §2521. Typically, a law enforcement officer will ask a person to submit to a breath test, unless the breath test is unreasonable, in which case they may request a blood test.
If a driver refuses to submit to a test, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has authority to suspect your license immediately, without a hearing. Usually, this automatic suspension of your license is for 275 days (for a first refusal), 18 months (for a second refusal), 4 years (for a third refusal), or 6 years (for a fourth refusal). If a driver refuses to take the test, the suspension from the BMV will run consecutive to the suspension imposed by the court, if the driver is eventually found guilty of Operating Under the Influence.
In addition to the increased BMV suspensions, the Court will also impose harsher penalties for refusing to submit to a test. For example, on a first offense OUI with a refusal, the mandatory minimum punishment requires 96 hours in jail, a $600.00 fine, and a 150-day loss of license. Without the refusal, the mandatory minimum would be a $500.00 fine and 150-day loss of license.
It is a common misconception that the State needs a breath test over .08 to convict a driver of Operating Under the influence. In reality, the State can prove the crime of Operating Under the Influence simply by proving that the driver’s “mental or physical faculties are impaired however slightly, or to any extent. State v. Worster, 611 A.2d 979 (Me. 1992).
There are many ways to challenge the charge of Operating Under the Influence. An experienced OUI attorney can attempt to suppress the initial motor vehicle stop, challenge the accuracy of the breath test, or argue that the testing officer did not follow proper protocol, just to name a few. Call Attorney Eric Thistle today for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information about Maine law. The publication of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.