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Maine Drug Related OUI Charges

OUI and Drugs in Maine

Under section §2411 of Title 29-A of Maine's criminal code, a person commits Operating Under the Influence (OUI) if that person operates a car “While under the influence of intoxicants.” An intoxicant can be any natural or chemical substance that impairs a person's ability to drive. If police stop a driver and suspect that they are under the influence of a drug, they can be arrested for suspicion of OUI.

Drug related DUI charges are harder for police to evaluate for during the roadside stop as breathalyzer devices do not measure drug use. Instead, officers will often rely on field sobriety tests and their own opinions. Many officers are trained under The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program to determine if a driver is under the influence of a n intoxicant other than alcohol.

What Kinds of Drugs Can Lead to OUI in Maine?

Over the Counter Drugs

Some people assume that DUI only pertains to illegal drugs, but legal drugs can also cause impairment and therefore are eligible for OUI charges. Drugs like antihistamines or any type of sedative can cause drowsiness and impaired reaction times. Even if a driver has taken a medically necessary drug within its proper dosage, they can still be charged with OUI if it an officer believes that it may have caused impairment.

Illegal Drugs

Any illegal drug can be accused of causing impairment. Even drugs like marijuana that many people do not think affects their ability to operate a vehicle can lead to OUI charges. Other common drugs that are related to OUI / DUI include:

  • Narcotics – drugs like heroin and morphine are addictive and limit a driver's ability to react quickly.
  • Hallucinogens – psychedelic drugs like LSD, ecstasy or MDMA cause a driver to hallucinate and see or react to things that are not really there.
  • Inhalants – even some legal items like aerosols or glue can become illegal drugs if they are inhaled. These drugs can cause disorientation and other types of impairment.
  • Stimulants – drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines cause the user's heart rate to increase and can lead to extreme reactions.
  • Sedatives – tranquilizers can make the driver drowsy and affect their reaction time. In addition to an OUI charge, a driver could also face drug possession charges if they have any illegal drugs in their vehicle at the time of their arrest.

Prescription Drugs

Whether they are legally prescribed or being abused, prescription drugs are leading to more and more OUI charges every year in Maine. Before using a prescription medication, drivers should always be aware of the side effects, especially when taken in combination with alcohol. Even if the driver does not experience any side effects, a prescription drug can still lead to criminal charges. In some cases, police can suspect that a driver is intoxicated and make an arrest without even knowing what the cause is. If the driver has taken any prescription drug, even if it is a prescribed dose, they can be charged with prescription drug OUI.

Maine Drug OUI Penalties

The penalties for a drug related OUI are the same as for alcohol related charges. The only situation a difference could occur if the driver also had an illegal drug in their possession at the time of arrest. Penalties are as follows:

1st OUI Offense in a ten year period:

  • Class D criminal charges
  • A minimum fine of $500
  • A minimum jail sentence of 48 hours
  • 90 days of license suspension

One prior OUI conviction in a ten year period:

  • Class D criminal charges
  • A minimum fine of $700
  • A minimum jail sentence of 7 days
  • 3 years of license suspension

Two prior OUI convictions in a ten year period:

  • Class C criminal charges
  • A minimum fine of $1,100
  • A minimum jail sentence of 30 days
  • 6 years of license suspension

Three or more prior OUI convictions in a ten year period:

  • Class C criminal charges
  • A minimum fine of $2,100
  • A minimum jail sentence of 6 months
  • 6 years of license suspension
  • Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
Maine Drug OUI Defenses

A drug related OUI is different than an alcohol OUI for several reasons. First, there is no way for police to know what drug you are under the influence of until a blood or urine chemical test can be performed. Unlike alcohol impairment, which can be determined by a breath test that provides instant results, a lab must perform an analysis of the sample and report back to the court. There is also no legal limit to the amount of drug that can equal intoxication. For example, a blood-alcohol concentration of .08% is considered the level of impairment for alcohol, but, in the eyes of the court, there is no difference between having one puff of marijuana versus smoking multiple joints.

A DUI attorney can actually use this information to their advantage in court by questioning if their client was really impaired. For example, a lawyer can state that their client did have trace amounts of cocaine in their system at the time of the arrest, but it was a very small amount and the effects had already worn off so they were not impaired while driving. If doubt can be established, a jury may not be able to make a conviction.

Drug OUI Lawyer in Maine

Choosing which attorney is right for you is an important choice. You will want one with the experience and the skills to fight your charges and walk you through the legal process. For many people, an OUI arrest is their first time in trouble with the law.

If you have been arrested for OUI in Maine, call our office right now. We are dedicated to getting the best results for our clients. Attorney William T. Bly knows what it takes to win OUI cases. Regardless of the evidence against you, he can help you build a solid defense. Call us for a free consultation.

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