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Maine Alcohol Laws

Information provided by the Bureau of Highway Safety and Bureau of Liquor Enforcement.

Operating Under the Influence

In Maine, if you are driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more, you are guilty of a criminal offense known as operating under the influence, or OUI.

Following your arrest, and based solely on the police report and blood alcohol content (BAC) test result, the Secretary of State will immediately suspend your license. This suspension takes place prior to any court appearance, so while you're waiting for your day in court, you won't be driving.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

BAC is a precise way of stating the amount of alcohol in a quantity of blood. BAC can be measured with a breath or blood test. If you have a BAC of .08 percent or more, you can be found guilty by a court on this basis alone, without further evidence.

Implied Consent

It is important for Maine drivers to remember that a driver's license is not a right guaranteed under our Constitution. It is a
privilege that is administratively issued and can be withdrawn by the State.

Under Implied Consent, you automatically agree to a chemical test (blood, breath or urine) at any time authorities have probable cause to administer it. If you refuse to take such a test for alcohol or drugs, your driver's license will immediately suspended. The suspension could last as long as six months. Because this is done administratively, no court action is necessary,
however you might have an administrative hearing at the DMV.

In addition, testimony from the arresting officer regarding your driving performance can result in an OUI conviction even without the BAC test.

If you are found guilty of OUI based on the police officer's testimony, your refusal to take a test will be considered as an
aggravating factor by the judge and another suspension, as well as mandatory jail time, will be tacked on. So by refusing you
will have much harsher penalty than if you'd taken the test.

Remember a test can protect you. If you are not legally intoxicated, the test will show it.

Conditional Licenses

Reinstated licenses include the condition of not driving after drinking. After the first conviction, the license is conditional for one year. After subsequent convictions, it is conditional for ten years.

A conditional license can be suspended for one year, without a preliminary hearing, for operating with any amount of alcohol in
the blood. A conditional license can be suspended for a period of two years for any refusal to submit to a blood-alcohol test, a
penalty which will be added to any suspension previously handed down for an OUI conviction.

Vehicle Seizure or Forfeiture

A person operating under the influence while under suspension for a previous OUI, is subject to vehicle seizure and forfeiture, as well as a fine and jail time.

Other Consequences

There are many other consequences that come as a result of drinking and driving to consider. Here are just a few:

  1. All OUI convictions result in a criminal record, not an asset when applying for a job or college entry.
  2. Overall costs associated with an OUI conviction can reach $7,000.00.
  3. Drinking and driving takes thousands of innocent lives each year. Could you live with yourself?
  4. At present, drunk driving causes more deaths and injuries than any other violent crime; no one, including friends and family is immune.

Minimum Court Imposed Penalties for OUI

Jail Time
First with no aggravating factors (see #1 below)
Ninety (90) Days
Second w/ aggrivating factors
Ninety (90) Days
Fourty Eight (48) Hours
First w/ refusal of BAC test (see #2 below)
Ninety (90) Days
Ninety Six (96) Hours
Second (see #3 below)
Eighteen (18) Months
Seven (7) Days
Second with a refusal of BAC test
Eighteen (18) Months
Twelve (12) Days
Four (4) Years
Thirty (30) Days
Third w/ refusal of BAC test
Four (4) Years
Fourty (40) Days
Fourth or more
Six (6) Years
Six (6) Months
Fourth w/ refusal of BAC test
Six (6) Years
Six (6) Years
$2400.00 and Twenty (20) days

  1. Aggravating factors include a BAC of .15 percent or more, or traveling 30m.p.h. or more over the posted speed limit, or attempting to elude an officer of the law, or having a passenger under 16 years of age. 
  2. Refusal to be tested results in a loss of license for 180 days, which is consecutive to any suspension imposed for an OUI conviction.
  3. A second conviction within ten years prohibits the offender from obtaining work-restricted license or from registering a vehicle.

Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes

Every driver involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash, or a crash where a death is likely to occur, must submit to a blood alcohol
test. Failure to do so will result in a one year license suspension.

If the Secretary of State is satisfied that a driver, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, negligently operated a motor
vehicle in such a manner to cause death of any person, the Secretary shall immediately suspend the operator's license for at
least three years. This suspension will be consecutive to any suspension imposed for refusal to submit to a chemical test.

Moreover, a conviction for vehicular homicide can result in a prison term of up to 30 years and a permanent loss of you driver's license if alcohol is involved.

Knowing Your Limit

Misconceptions about alcohol and how it effects safe driving are widespread. Knowing the truth can mean the difference between life and death. When alcohol enters your system, your ability to control a car, yourself, immediately starts to deteriorate. Good judgment, concentration and your ability to react quickly all start to disappear with the first drink.

Factors Influencing BAC

Factors that can affect the relationship between alcohol consumed and BAC level include:

  1. Weight: A larger person requires more alcohol to reach a particular BAC level than a smaller person.
  2. Gender: Women generally reach higher BACs than men of the same weight with the same amount of alcohol.
  3. Amount of food in stomach: Food slows the absorption of alcohol into the blood. Time spent drinking: Alcohol is eliminated at the rate of about one drink (1 ounce of alcohol) per hour.
  4. Time since last drink: Because time is needed to metabolize a drink, a persons BAC can continue to rise after he or she has stopped drinking.

The best advice to follow is that if you drink, plan ahead, and designate a non-drinking driver.

The Zero Tolerance Law

If you are under 21 years if age, Maine has a special law for you. If you are found operating, or attempting to operate, a motor vehicle with any measurable alcohol in your body, you will lose your license for one year. If you refuse a test, you will lose your
license for one year anyway.

Drivers under 21 years with a BAC of .08 percent or more can be prosecuted for the criminal offense of OUI, but the license suspension must be for one year.

Illegal Possession

It is a civil violation for any person under the age of 21 to possess liquor or imitation liquor except if it is within the scope of their employment or in their home in the presence of their parent. Fines for illegal possession are as follows:

1st Offense: $100.00 to $300.00
2nd Offense: $200.00 to $500.00
3rd or Subsequent Offenses: $500.00

Youths 17 years or younger are charged with juvenile crime of illegal possession.

Illegal Transportation Of Liquor

No person under the age of 21 shall transport alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle except in the scope of their employment or at the request of their parent. The penalties for illegal transportation are:

1st Offense: 30 Day license suspension and a fine no more than $500.00
2nd Offense: 90 Day license suspension and a fine not less than $200.00
3rd Offense: One year license suspension and a fine no less than $400.00

Furnishing Liquor to a Minor

Any person who furnishes liquor to a minor, or allows a minor under that person's control, or in any place under that person's
control, to possess or consume liquor, may be fined $2,000.00 and/or sentenced up to one year in jail. If the minor is less than
14 years of age, or the violation is a second offense within six years, the fine shall not be less than $500.00. For any third or subsequent offense within six years, the minimum penalty is $1,000.00 fine and up to six months in jail.

Furnishing Imitation Liquor to a Minor

Any person who furnishes imitation liquor to a minor, or allows a minor under that person's control to possess, or consume imitation liquor, may be fined up to $500.00 and/or sentenced to six months in jail

Illegal Sale of Liquor

Any person who sells liquor in Maine without a license issued by the Bureau Of Liquor Enforcement is subject to the following

1st Offense: $300.00 to $500.00 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
2nd Offense: $500.00 to $1,000.00 fine and up to 60 days in jail.
3rd and Subsequent Offenses: $1,000.00 fine and 60 days in jail, not to be suspended. An additional 4 months in jail time is possible.

Illegal Possession with Intent to Sell

Any person who possesses liquor with the intent to sell in violation of Maine Liquor Laws, may be fined up to $1,000.00 and sentenced to six months in jail. The vehicle used may be impounded and subject to forfeiture proceedings.

Maine Liquor Liability Act

The Maine Liquor Liability Act was established to form a legal basis for obtaining compensation for damages as a result of
intoxication and related incidents. A non-licensed, social host (a person who does not hold a Maine Liquor License) can be sued for negligent or reckless conduct.

By definition, negligent conduct is the serving of liquor to a minor or intoxicated person, if the defendant knows or a reasonable and prudent person being served is a minor or is visibly intoxicated.

Reckless Conduct is the intentional serving of liquor to a person when the server knows the person being served is a minor, or visibly intoxicated, and the defendant consciously disregards an obvious and substantial risk that serving liquor to that person
will cause physical harm to the drinker or to others.

Financial Implications

Damages may be awarded for property damage, bodily injury, or death caused by the consumption of liquor served by the defendant. The limit on awards is $250,000.00 plus medical expenses.