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If you have been accused of driving under the influence in the state of Maine, you need to get help from a lawyer as soon as possible. The consequences of a conviction, especially in Maine, can be huge. We have put together this guide to understanding and avoiding a DUI conviction, we hope you find it helpful in learning as much about the law and your rights as possible.
If you have been arrested, or if someone you love has been arrested, we hope that we are your first call.
Do You Need A DUI Lawyer in Portland, Maine?
Maine is incredibly strict about DUI – to the point where even refusing to take an intoxilyzer test (often referred to a breathalyzer test) will get your license suspended. Life in Maine is simply not set up to be easy on non-drivers, pubic transportation is difficult unless you live right downtown in Portland. It may go without saying, but it is very important to try to do everything you can not to not be convicted of a DUI. You need to get a lawyer working for you as soon as you can to give yourself your best chance to keep your driver’s license.
At H&H Law Center we have years of experience defending the people of Maine.
DUI Also Encompasses Drugs, Not Just Alcohol
When people think about DUI charges, they often think about alcohol, but operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs also falls under the DUI or OUI umbrella. Maine has now adopted specially trained police officers that are know as Drug Recognition Experts to make a determination of whether or not a driver is impaired. Watch the video below to hear about a recent case that we defended where a Drug Recognition Expert was involved.
You Do Have The Right To Remain Silent
If you have been pulled over for driving under the influence, anything you say can be used against you. Here’s a quick video in which H&H Law Center Partner Merritt Heminway talks about why it is important that you exercise your right to remain silent.
We Want To Help You Fight Your DUI Charge
We believe that every citizen of Maine deserves a vigorous defense. We also believe that the criminal justice system is too powerful to try to fight against without a lawyer. If you have been accused for driving under the influence, and you want to fight that charge, we want to represent you.
Our offices are right downtown in Portland, and we would love to sit down with you and hear your story. We know that cases are won and lost based on the smallest detail, so we don’t take a one size fits all approach to our defense work. We keep good people out of jail.
If you need help, and you want us to stand beside you through this process, please contact us.
If you need help please email us at email@example.com or call 855-51-DEFEND (855-513-3336)
In case you are viewing this website in a place where you can’t stream the videos, we’ve included the transcripts below:
What you should know if you have been accused of operating under the influence.
If you’ve been accused of drunk driving or operating under the influence, OUI, as we call it in Maine. You need an attorney and you need an attorney as early on in the process as possible. OUI cases are complex. There’s specialized science involving the intoxilyzer machine that police ask you to blow into to determine your blood alcohol level. There’s specialized science regarding the roadside sobriety tests that we’ve all seen in the movies. Where you touch your nose and such. All of these things require specialized knowledge.
We take a close look at how the cops were trained to administer these particular tests. We take a close look as to how these tests have failed in the past. And how that may impact the current case in front of us. In the state of Maine, if you refuse to take in an intoxilyzer test when asked to by a police officer the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Secretary of State office can suspend your license. Without any further investigation into the facts and circumstances.
Here in the state of Maine we don’t have much of a public transportation system and unless you live right on the peninsula of Portland getting around to going to work, or school, getting anything done at all is extremely difficult if you’re not driving. Keeping your license is a top priority and one of the things that we work on all the time with our clients. How do I get my license back? How do I keep my license from being suspended? It’s a big concern here in the state of Maine. We take them seriously, they are a criminal offenses. You have full constitutional rights that are attached. You need to exercise those rights including your right to an attorney.
DUI in Portland Maine
DUI, or OUI what it’s called here in Maine, is a large part of our practice. And a lot of times in these cases the first challenge depending on the facts of the case is whether the stop was a good stop. Meaning did this police have the ability to pull you over in the first place. A lot of times they will pull you over for what they think is erratic driving or what they think is erratic driving or rolling through a stop sign. And that could be a turning point in a case because you can stop the case where the police have the first interaction which would be turning on the blue lights then everything flowing out of that unconstitutional stop would be thrown out court.
There are three phases that the police are trained or to look at when they or go through when they are investigating a DUI. The first phase is the movement of the car. Basically how the car is moving. Does a pullover to the side of the road go smoothly? Does it pull over immediately when the blue lights go on? The next stage or phase is the interaction with the individual. Everything from odor of alcohol on the breath to bloodshot glassy eyes. And then the last phase is whats called the FST field sobriety test. And that’s the HGM which is the horizontal gaze eye movement test. There are many reasons for possible erratic driving other than being under the influence. You never asked the person if they smoked or were in a smoky room. Or if they had hay-fever or allergies of any kind or may have been up late or been tired. All of those things are innocent explanations for what the police are trying to say are guilty explanations for driving under the influence. And similar with the field sobriety test if someone has an injury or just doing the test on the side of the road in the middle of the night when cars are driving by at 50 miles an hour, you’re cold, you’re scared, you’re nervous about what’s going to happen. All of those stressors on your body make it virtually impossible to complete the test up to the standard that the police have set.
Drug recognition experts in Maine
A good example of the difficulties in these kinds of cases, we just finished a case up in Bangor it was actually a student at the University of Maine in Orono. And the student was pulled over for rolling through a stop sign on campus. It was absolutely crystal clear that the student did roll through a stop sign. And the police officer had ample reason to pull them over and give him a ticket for rolling through the stop sign, but what happened next was a bit startling.
The police officers interviewed the student behind the wheel and didn’t smell any alcohol, didn’t see any’s slurred speech or any fumbling around. There was no indication of bad driving there. There was no indication of impairment at all. But upon going back into the cruiser and talking to dispatch and hearing a little bit about this person’s history with the police department, they decided that they were going to search the vehicle anyhow. That’s plainly illegal.
The police officers went back and they detained that student along the side of the road, had them do field sobriety tests and search the vehicle. Everything was fine on the field sobriety test. There was nothing of note in the vehicle except for a little bit of marijuana. And eventually arrested that student and transported them all the way to the Bangor Police Department and later to the Orono Police Department. And about two hours later a so called drug recognition expert was called in. For whatever reason these police officers had convinced themselves that the student was too impaired to be driving even though there was no evidence of any kind of alcohol consumption. And to help them prove that that person was to impaired to be driving, some police officers are specially qualified as drug recognition expert’s or DRE’s. If a police officer is specially qualified as a DRE they do a number of different tests and analyses on this person and can make a determination of whether that person is high or not.
Well, surprise, surprise this particular student, two hours they had after rolled through a stop sign, was determined by a drug recognition officer that they were too high to drive. Perhaps that’s part of the state of Maine’s effort to try and come up with some sort of measurement of chemicals in the bloodstream because the system that we have now is based on drug recognition experts, who may or may not be any better than you or I at telling whether someone is too high to drive.
What we were able to do, in that case, was to file a motion to suppress evidence. Saying that the police officers violated that students constitutional rights by detaining them on the side of the road for over two hours without any probable cause. And the case was thrown out on those grounds. So it was an early victory in that case which was nice to see. We never had to reach the issue of whether or not the drug recognition expert was any good or not or whether the student was actually impaired. It was plain that the student was not impaired at the time and had simply just rolled through a stop sign.
(To read an interesting article in the Bangor Daily News, see: Bangor Daily News: “Group splits on how Maine would define pot users’ OUI” (12/15/2015))
When interacting with the police you have the right to remain silent.
Well the fifth amendment says that, you have the right to remain silent. And that you do not have to say anything to the police, if you don’t want to. And indeed anything that you do say the police can and certainly will be used against you in the court of law.
My standard advice to anybody who’s had an interaction with the police is just to remind them that you don’t have to say anything. Even if a police officer seems friendly and that they are just inquiring innocently of what is going on with you that evening. They are hunting for a crime. They are trying to find something to charge you with, and to the extent that you say anything if that fits into their pattern, they’re going to use that against you. They are trying to gather probable cause to arrest you. And if you open your mouth, you may be giving them a little bit more towards probable cause to arrest you.
So my first advice is to remain silent, be polite, do as you’re told and remain silent. I would encourage you not to try to explain the situation or to talk your way out of it. I would limit your answers to yes sir or no sir, or even better, I respectfully decline to answer your questions at this time.
Defending The Rights of The Citizens of Portland, Maine
We pay attention to your story to make sure your rights are protected.
In the criminal justice system it’s an adversarial system, so there’s one side and the other. There’s the state, who is prosecuting people and putting them in jail for committing crimes. And then there’s us, who is representing those individuals and keeping them out of jail. What I’ve discovered in doing this work long enough is that the Bill of Rights, the civil rights that each of us is guaranteed as American citizens doesn’t happen automatically. It requires somebody paying attention. Somebody actually has to read every single police report because mistakes happen, intentional mistakes happen. People’s rights get violated unless someone’s paying attention. And that’s really our job. We represent one client at a time. We make sure that individual’s rights are being protected.
When you were working in such high stakes situations and when you’re working with people who are suffering from drug addiction or suffering from mental illness or have had many prior interactions with the police, sometimes there can be a tendency and I think it can be a normal reaction to suffer burnt out. To become jaded or become cynical of the whole process and it’s a real danger in this profession. And the reason why it’s a real dangerous is because you stop listening to that exact case and one thing that we know from doing this work is that you have to pay attention to every single story, because every single story really is different. And everybody has a slightly different interaction with the authorities. Their interaction with the police or how they came to be charged with the crime is slightly different from everyone else who has been charged with the crime.
If you’re going to make sure people’s rights are not violated, if you’re going to make sure to give them a fair shake in an extremely powerful criminal justice system, you have to listen. You have to pay attention to every single story. And that starts with just a sit down on our couch. We’re going to look you in the eye and we’re going to listen very carefully to exactly what’s going on. And almost always, it’s in the tiny details. And the tiny differences from case to case that can make the difference between a good result in something that’s really damaging. Unless there’s a criminal defense attorney reading those police reports, analyzing those facts, figuring, out what facts fit what law and what facts don’t fit with what law, unless there’s someone paying attention to each of those individual stories peoples, civil rights get violated. And that’s our job to make sure that does not happen.