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Maine’s Operating Under The Influence Law has undergone significant changes over the past several years and it is about to change again.

Effective December 1, 2013, the minimum mandatory suspension for a first offense (for those who complete a breath or blood test) administrative and/or criminal adjudication will increase from 90 days to 150 days.

Those suspensions may be reduced if the driver installs an ignition interlock device (IID) in accordance with the Maine Ignition Interlock Device Program.

However, there are two prerequisites that the driver must satisfy to become eligible for the IID program.

First, the driver must pay a $50 reinstatement fee.

Second, the driver must complete the Driver Evaluation and Education Program (DEEP). DEEP is an alcohol education and evaluation program designed to prevent or limit recidivism. Such programs are common among the 50 states. Maine just happens to have the catchiest acronym.

The Maine IID Program has been in effect for a little over four years now. Previously, it has allowed second time OUI offenders to reduce their suspensions from three years to 9 months (work license only; full privileges after 12 months) and third time OUI offenders to cut their six year suspensions in half. These laws will not change.

The implementation of the original IID program (for repeat offenders) coincided with the enactment of laws mandating longer underlying suspensions for those with prior convictions.

Maine is not alone in the utilization of IID programs. The national trend has been to increase the underlying length of drunk driving suspensions while encouraging the use of IID’s by shortening those suspensions for drivers who participate in the ignition interlock programs. The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) purports to have data showing that the IID programs are more effective in curbing recidivism as opposed to forcing folks to endure longer suspensions or even the threat of longer suspensions for repeat offenders.

What is an ignition interlock device? An IID is a simple breath testing device that may be installed by a service provider duly licensed by the State of Maine (see the above-referenced website for a licensee in your area).

The IID requires the “restricted” driver to provide a breath sample before attempting to start his vehicle. If the IID detects the presence of alcohol on the driver’s breath, the vehicle will not start.

For those thinking about having a buddy blow a clean sample to allow the vehicle to start, there is a catch: the IID will randomly require a second breath sample while the vehicle is in motion. Failure to provide a sample within a proscribed short amount of time causes the horn to activate. Bad incident.

New criminal charges will be brought against the driver as well as the person who enabled him to drive by providing the clean breath sample.

Be informed. Protect yourself. Defend yourself. Call me at NICHOLS & CHURCHILL 207-879-4000 for a free consultation or check me out at www.nicholschurchill.com. I am in The Time & Temperature Building, 477 Congress Street, Portland 04101.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general, not specific, information about Maine law. The publication of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between the author(s) and the reader(s).

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