If suspected of driving drunk, you can be charged with a criminal offense called operating under the influence (OUI) in Maine or driving under the influence (DUI) in New Hampshire. In Maine, OUI is a misdemeanor for a first offense, which carries a $500 fine, a suspended driver's license for 150 days, but no jail time unless there are aggravating factors. In New Hampshire, fines range from $500 to $1,200.
Some drivers fear once they are charged with OUI/DUI that there's little hope for successfully defending themselves in court, and many choose to plead guilty. However, that can be a costly mistake that will have consequences for years to come.
Reasons OUI/DUI charges can be dismissed
The first step to protecting your rights is by consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney who has several options for defending you, including:
- Lack of probable cause: If the officer did not have a legitimate reason to stop you, the case could be dismissed even if you were drinking.
- Medical condition: Certain conditions, such as acid reflux, can cause a false positive if you take a breathalyzer test. Inaccurate testing can also result in dropped charges.
- Dietary restrictions: Diets that restrict carbohydrates can cause ketones, which produce isopropyl alcohol, which can also create a false positive in both breath and urine tests.
- Defective equipment: Breathalyzers need to be calibrated regularly to provide results that can be used against you. Your attorney can challenge the results, the condition of the device as well as the officer's competency in administering the test.
- Field sobriety tests: FSTs are routinely administered to drivers suspected of OUI/DUI. However, studies show they are accurate only 65% of the time. The conditions surrounding the test can be challenged, while injuries or health conditions can also affect results.
Don't admit guilt when officers suspect you are driving drunk
These are some of the most commonly used defenses against OUI/DUI charges, which can bring severe penalties that affect your personal and financial well-being. There are several other less common defenses as well. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Maine and New Hampshire will aggressively protect your rights and work to reduce penalties or have charges dropped.