Saturday, March 22, 2008

I just got arrested for OUI, what happens next?

If you're reading this blog, you must have made bail.  What you do next can have a huge impact on your future.  First, the police officer will write a report.  He will include a copy of that report as the basis for probable cause to believe you were operating under the influence of alcohol.  The officer will mail the Maine Secretary of State a copy of his statement for probable cause, a copy of the Intoxilyzer results and a copy of his police report.  The Secretary of State will move to suspend your driver's license.  

While this is happening, the arresting officer will send a copy of the summons and police report to the District Attorney.  The District Attorney will review the report to ensure probable cause for arrest exists.  If probable cause for arrest exists and the DA thinks it's a decent case, they will generate a charging instrument (the complaint) and file it with the District Court.  The District Court will generate a docket number and assign that number to your case.  The Court Clerk will schedule your case for arraignment based on the date assigned by the arresting police department.

In all likelihood and in advance of your arraignment, the Secretary of State will suspend your right to drive in the State of Maine... unless you request a hearing in writing and within ten (10) days of the date set for suspension.  If you requested a hearing within writing, a hearing must be held and a decision rendered within 3o days.  If you lose the hearing, your license is suspended for 90 days on a first offense OUI.  If you win, the suspension is rescinded.  Whatever the outcome, it is always a good idea to attend the hearing.  Many things can shake out in your favor.  The police officer could "no show"...  The hearing's officer could agree with your argument regarding lack of probable cause or invalid breath sample...  You could uncover a treasure trove of exculpatory evidence that wasn't readily apparent in your initial review of the police report... Anything can happen!  That's why you do these hearings... and that's why you hire an attorney.  The right attorney can make all the difference in the world.

So what happens next?  You have an arraignment where you have an opportunity to plead guilty, not guilty or no contest.  Obviously, if you plead guilty that's the end of the line.  You don't need an attorney to plead guilty.  You can do it a lot cheaper by doing it yourself.  If you plead not guilty, you will have a 21 day deadline to file a jury trial request and any other pre-trial motions such as a motion to suppress.  How those decisions are shaped are driven in large part by your attorney.  This is just the start of the process.  Where and how your case ends up will be in large part determined by the facts, strengths and weaknesses of your case and the skill of your attorney.  

William T. Bly, Esq.
Maine OUI Lawyer