Imagine receiving a few speeding tickets, but never having your license revoked. Then one day you receive one more and lose your license for 3 years. If you have had multiple convictions for violations of motor vehicle laws in Maine, be wary. Maine has an habitual offender law that is strict with serious consequences for Maine drivers. An understanding of the law is important for any Maine driver who has been charged with violating the Maine motor vehicle laws and has prior convictions on their record.
What is the habitual offender law?
The habitual offender mandates the suspension of your license for an indefinite period of time with a minimum of 3 years if you have multiple violations of certain Maine motor vehicle laws within a five-year period. There are two ways to be found an habitual offender.
Major Motor Vehicle Violations
The first way to become an habitual offender under Maine law is to receive 3 or more convictions of major motor vehicle violations within a 5-year period. Major motor vehicle violations include:
- Homicide resulting from operation of a motor vehicle
- Operating Under the Influence (OUI)
- Operating After Suspension (OAS), Operating After License Revocation or Aggravated Motor Vehicle Operation After Revocation
- Driving to Endanger
- Operating without a license
- Knowingly making a false statement required by the Motor Vehicle Code
- Most felony offenses in which a motor vehicle is involved
- Failure to report an accident involving injury, death, or property damage
- Eluding (or attempting to elude) a police officer
- Passing a police roadblock
- Criminal speeding (as distinguished from the moving violation)
- Tampering with an ignition interlock device
Regarding an OAS conviction, there is an exception when the suspension was based solely on failure to pay child support, failure to pay a reinstatement fee, and for the traffic infraction (as opposed to the criminal offense) of OAS.
If a driver commits three of these violations within a 5-year period, he or she will be considered an habitual offender. there is an exception where multiple violations result from the same incident; then those violations will be considered one violation. Any driver who has had a conviction for two of these offenses should consider contacting an attorney if charged with a third within a 5-year period.
Moving Motor Vehicle Violations
The second way to become an habitual offender is to receive 3 or more adjudications for moving motor vehicle violations within a 5-year period. Moving motor vehicle violations include (but are not limited to):
- traffic signal violations
- passing where inappropriate
It is possible to be declared an habitual offender before ever having your license suspended if you have 10 moving violations within a 5-year period. Any driver who has had a conviction for 8 or more of these offenses should consider contacting an attorney if charged with another within a 5-year period.
Can I get my license back?
While the revocation for habitual offender status is initially indefinite, you may petition for reinstatement of your license after a minimum of 3 years.
A work-restricted license may be available 18 months after the date of revocation. No work license is available for a person whose revocation is based on a conviction of vehicular homicide, operating while revoked or aggravated operating while revoked, or where a person reinstated from habitual offender status is then found to be an habitual offender again within 5-years of reinstatement.
You need to drive for work and for virtually any other facet of your life. Thus losing your driving privilege will impact your family, your finances, your job, and your independence. If you have obtained multiple major or moving violations and are concerned about becoming an habitual offender, contact us for a consultation.