The Surprising ABCs of OUI Offenses
It’s an encouraging fact that alcohol- and drug-related driving fatalities have fallen somewhat on the roads of Maine in recent years.
But still, around 5,000 people are convicted every year in Maine for Operating Under the Influence (OUI) of intoxicants — alcohol and drugs.
Even one fatality, injury, or OUI traffic stop is one too many.
Often, offenders claim they didn’t realize they were over the limit or impaired, though they usually say they know the rules.
But what they — and you — may not know is that Operating Under the Influence, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI), each of which can be different in definition, applies to more than just cars and motorbikes.
You’d perhaps be surprised by the different types of motorized vehicles you can get an OUI on.
OUI/DUI/DWI laws vary from state to state and even, in some cases, from county to county. But here’s an alphabetical list of some of the activities that can fall foul of the rules in many parts of the US.
All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Snowmobiles
Quad bikes, snowmobiles and other ATVs are subject to the same OUI rules in most of the country, including Maine.
In our state, you face exactly the same penalties if you committed the offense on a public road.
Even though it may be self-propelled through pedal power, a bicycle still counts as a vehicle in some states, where you can be charged with Bicycling Under the Influence (BUI).
Penalties for BUI are often very similar to those for motorized offenders and can even result in a loss of your driver’s license.
The situation in Maine is not clear. While bicycling under the influence is not illegal, it’s possible that another rule, known as the Open Container Statute, might be used for a BUI type of charge.
Dump truck drivers (and maybe some other construction vehicles) can be, and occasionally are, charged with driving while intoxicated.
States vary on this one. While some consider a golf cart to be a vehicle others don’t. And whether or not the cart is on a public road or private property can affect whether the driver might be susceptible to an OUI.
In Maine, a driver can be charged with being under the influence no matter whose land he or she is on.
Yes, even though they may only have their feet to propel them, hunters are at risk of being convicted of OUI in some states, including Maine (under Title 12 of Conservation Laws).
Yes, you can be charged with driving while intoxicated in the seat of a lawnmower on a public highway. In Maine, you can even face a charge while driving on your own lawn, private property or driveway — or someone else’s!
The increasingly popular electric scooters are regarded as vehicles in most states.
Almost any type of mechanized farm equipment, including tractors, might be regarded as targets for OUI.
States differ both in terms of how they regard these vehicles and whether offenses can be committed on private farm property or just public roads.
Motorboats and other watercraft are recognized as vehicles in most places, including Maine, where the offense is usually referred to as Maine BUI (Boating Under the Influence).
Some wheels and other modes of transport that people sometimes imagine could be subject to OUI laws, usually are not.
- Non-motorized skateboards and roller skates
- Horses — though you could be charged with another offense, such as animal endangerment, if you’re drunk.
Remember These 5 Important Things
There are five important points to bear in mind if you are traveling under the influence of alcohol or drugs:
- Even if the transport you are riding cannot be construed as a vehicle for OUI purposes, if you commit an offense or cause an accident or damage while traveling under the influence, on a skateboard for example. you may still face a charge.
- Every state has different rules. Some counties do too. What applies here in Maine may not apply in another state you live in or visit. Check the rules. Remember too that laws change, so keep up to date. To learn more about Maine’s OUI laws, visit: https://tinyurl.com/OUI-Laws-ME.
- Because there are such big differences and because some elements of OUI are open to legal interpretation that may be down to a particular judge’s viewpoint, it’s not worth taking a risk. Also, in Maine, drivers under 21 with any amount of measurable alcohol in their systems automatically lose their licenses for a year.
- If you are convicted of a OUI offense, it will be reported to your auto insurance company and, when you’re back on the road, your premium will almost certainly go up.
- You can be charged with OUI for other non-driving activities, such as hunting. A conviction will count as an OUI offense and will therefore affect the level of penalties, depending whether you have other convictions.
When all of these points are taken into account, why take a risk? If you’re under the influence, even within legal limits, your responses may be impaired, however slightly.
Get a cab, a bus or a good non-using friend or relative to drive you to your destination.
Especially as we enter the season of festivals offered throughout Maine, when heading out to celebrate with friends arrange to have a designated driver.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informative reading and does not constitute legal advice. Nor does it purport to refer only to the State of Maine unless specifically stated. If you require legal advice relating to DUI or OUI, you should consult an attorney.