OUI Process

Criminal Defense Lawyer - OUI Typical Legal Process

There are several key stages to an OUI case as it moves through the criminal justice system. The following is a description of those stages and the time periods in which each will occur.

Click the links to go through the steps of the OUI legal process

  1. ARREST - A law enforcement officer made the decision that he or she had probable cause to arrest you for the crime of Operating Under the Influence. You were then brought to a police station or county jail and from there you were bailed. You may have paid a cash bail (plus the Bail Commissioner's $40.00 fee), or a personal recognizance or unsecured cash bond was set. At the time of your release, you were informed of your arraignment date in District Court on the OUI charge. This date will either be on your summons (OUI Ticket), or on the bail sheet (yellow form). If you submitted to a breath test, you will also have a printout of the test result. Hold onto these documents. I will want to take a look at them.
  2. NOTICE OF SUSPENSION - There are two parts to an OUI case. One is the criminal prosecution which begins in the District Court on your arraignment date. The other is an administrative action by the Secretary of State to suspend your Maine license, or operating privileges in Maine if you are from out of state. These are two separate processes and one does not effect the other. The Secretary of State case begins when you receive a Notice of Suspension in the mail. This notice will inform you that your right to operate a motor vehicle in Maine will be suspended on a certain date for a specified period of time. You will receive this notice approximately four weeks after your arrest. The notice will be sent to the last known address in the Secretary of State's files. Hence, if your present address is different than the address on your license, you may not receive the Notice of Suspension. This could lead to you unknowingly operating after suspension. The notice will explain that you have the right to request a hearing on the administrative suspension. It is very important that a hearing is requested. I will take care of this hearing request. You simply need only call my office and a hearing request will be faxed to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. In cases where there is a chemical test result, you will not go under suspension until the date of the hearing. That is if we lose the hearing. In cases where there was a refusal to submit a chemical test, the suspension will be effective on the date noted in the Notice of Suspension.
  3. ARRAIGNMENT - The arraignment is the Court date you received when you were bailed following your arrest. The arraignment is usually four to five weeks after your arrest. This means that you will probably get your Notice of Suspension from the Secretary of State before your arraignment. I will submit a "not guilty" plea on your behalf prior to the arraignment date. You do not need to go to the arraignment. If you have not retained a lawyer, then you do need to appear in person at your arraignment and plead "not guilty".
  4. BMV HEARING - A hearing will be scheduled at an office of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This office will be the closest to the town in which you were arrested. You may or may not be required to appear at this motor vehicle hearing. We will have talked at length prior to this hearing as to whether or not your testimony is required. The hearings are scheduled approximately two to three weeks after the request for hearing is received by the Hearing Section of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. This means that you have about 6 to 7 weeks following your arrest before you may be going under administrative suspension for OUI. (This is a shorter period in refusal cases) The BMV hearings are conducted by a trained Hearing Examiner who is an employee of the Secretary of State's office. There are no District Attorneys or Judges present. The hearing examiner conducts the hearing and questions all witnesses.
  5. TRANSFER TO SUPERIOR COURT - I prefer to file a Jury Trial Request in most criminal cases in order to preserve the opportunity for a jury trial on all charges. This jury trial request must be filed within 21 days of the arraignment. Also, any pre-trial motions challenging the admissibility of evidence must be filed within 21 days of the arraignment. You can see that this 21 day period is an important benchmark in the case. Please do not impair your defense by procrastinating after your arraignment. Talk to me. After the JTR is filed with the District Court, all further proceedings will be held in the Superior Court of that county.
  6. "TRIAGE" DAY FOR PRE-TRIAL MOTIONS - Within approximately 60 days of your arraignment date, your case will appear on a pre-trial motions list in the County Superior Court. A triage day will be scheduled prior to the scheduling of any motion hearings. The triage day gives the defense lawyers and Assistant District Attorneys an opportunity to discuss pre-trial issues and potential plea agreements in the case. If no agreement is reached between the defense and the State, then a motion hearing will be scheduled later that month. On occasion, Defense Counsel will simply withdraw the motion and allow the case to be placed on the next available jury trial list. This occurs when it appears that the defense would not prevail at the motion hearing. The most common suppression issue that arises in OUI cases is the initial stop of your vehicle. The question for the Court is whether or not the officer had enough evidence (sufficient "articulable suspicion") to effectuate a "seizure" (turn on the blue lights and pull you over).
  7. TRIAL MANAGEMENT - The case will be placed on a trial list within approximately 60 days of the triage day. The case will be scheduled for trial management prior to any jury selection. This day gives Defense Counsel and Assistant District Attorneys another opportunity to discuss the case and to review with the Court any pre-trial issues prior to jury selection. Jury selection normally begins the first Monday following the trial management day.
  8. JURY SELECTION AND TRIAL - Juries for a number of cases are selected on the same day, one after another. Trials sometimes begin on the day of the jury selection, but more commonly are scheduled throughout the following two weeks based on trial length and witness availability. A typical OUI trial is not a lengthy event. Generally, a trial can be completed in one or two days.