Guide to Habitual Offender in Maine
If you are not careful, minor driving crimes can add up to Habitual Offender (HO) in Maine. There is little relief after you become HO. You should avoid HO before it happens.
How You Go HOA simple charge for Operating After License Suspension (OAS) in Maine is a low-level misdemeanor. The penalty is usually a fine only. Too often, people think it is not a big deal. So they let the OAS conviction and other driving criminal convictions accumulate. Before they know it, they get a letter in the mail informing them that they are about to go Habitual Offender (HO). Most are in shock when they find out they are going HO. No one from the Court ever told them that their driver's license would be revoked.
HO status can happen in one of three major ways:
- 3 driving related criminal convictions within a 5 year period. Examples of driving crimes are Operating After Suspension (OAS), Operating Under the Influence (OUI), Driving to Endanger (DTE), and Operating Without a License, and more.
- 10 traffic tickets with demerit points within a 5 year period.
- A combination of both.
A habitual offender's driver's license is revoked (suspended indefinitely).
HO Administrative HearingWhen facing Habitual Offender (HO) status, Maine provides the opportunity to challenge your HO status. Were the convictions counted properly? A criminal defense lawyer can represent you at the HO Administrative Hearing. If any convictions were counted incorrectly, the HO status would be lifted from your license. If you lose at the HO administrative hearing, the habitual offender status would remain until you became eligible for relief from the revocation.
HO Relief is RareAfter going HO, you are not eligible for relief for three (3) years. If you do not drive for 3 years, then you can become eligible for a stay (lifting) of the license revocation, allowing you to drive again on a work restricted license. You get this opportunity only if you stay off the roads for 3 years without any slip-ups or being caught driving with a revoked driver's license. For many, not being able to drive is a life-changing event. And after your driving privileges are reinstated after the HO status has run its course, you have to go an additional five (5) years without any driving crimes. If you are convicted of a driving crime during this 5-year period, you will be automatically returned to HO status.
Violating HO StatusIf you are a Habitual Offender and you are caught driving, you can get into some big trouble. On the one hand, you will not be eligible for relief from HO until after six (6) years if you violate your HO status. On the other hand, you would face a new criminal charge of Operating After Habitual Offender Revocation. If convicted, the State of Maine imposes mandatory minimum penalties, which includes mandatory jail time of 30 days for a first offense, which is a misdemeanor, and 6 months for a second offense, which is a felony.
Best Defense to HO is a Good OffenseThe best defense to going Habitual Offender is to not go HO in the first place. It is important for a criminal defense attorney to represent you and to fight any and all criminal charges, no matter how minor they might seem to be. A lawyer can advise you whether you are at risk for HO status. And a lawyer can help keep unwanted criminal convictions off of your record.