Operating After Habitual Offender Revocation: Definitions, Sentences

People who fall within Maine’s habitual motor vehicle offender designation will have their driver’s license revoked for 3 years and will face serious charges if they drive during the revocation. I have written before about some of the defenses to these crimes. This article discusses the prior convictions that bring a person within the habitual offender designation, the State’s revocation notice laws and the mandatory minimum sentences for these crimes.

Click the link to go to a specific section of the article:

  1. Offenses that count toward habitual offender status
  2. Offenses that don’t count toward habitual offender status
  3. Notice of HO Revocation
  4. Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Offenses that Count Toward Habitual Offender Status

Title 29-A §2551-A defines a habitual offender as a person whose driving record shows 3 or more convictions for any of the following “major motor vehicle offenses” within a 5 year period.

Police car in side mirror

  1. Homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle
  2. Operating Under the Influence
  3. Driving to endanger
  4. Operating after suspension (OAS) or revocation
  5. Operating without a license
  6. Operating after revocation, in violation of former section 2557, section 2557-A or section 2558;
  7. Knowingly making a false affidavit or swearing or affirming falsely in a statement required by this Title or as to information required in the administration of this Title;
  8. A Class A, B, C or D offense in which a motor vehicle is used;
  9. Failure to report an accident involving injury or death, in violation of section 2252;
  10. Failure to report an accident involving property damage, in violation of section 2253, 2254 or 2255;
  11. Eluding an officer, in violation of section 2414;
  12. Passing a roadblock, in violation of section 2414, subsection 4;
  13. Criminal Speeding, speeding 30 miles per hour or more over the speed limit
  14. For a person whose license is reinstated with an alcohol ignition interlock device condition, offenses involving tampering with circumventing the device.
  15. A person who has 10 moving violations within a 5 year period also falls within the definition.

Offenses that Don’t Count Toward Habitual Offender Status

  1. A conviction for operating without a license if the license was expired, not suspended.
  2. A conviction for operating after suspension if suspension was for failure to pay child support.
  3. A conviction for operating after suspension if suspension was for not paying a reinstatement fee.
  4. A traffic infraction (civil violation) for operating after suspension.
  5. Multiple charges from the same incident can only be counted as a single offense.

Notice of Habitual Offender Revocation

The secretary of state reviews a person’s driving history and if they determine if they fall within the HO definition, their right to operate will be revoked for 3 years. The law requires that a person be notified of the revocation before they can be punished for a violation. At trial, the prosecution must prove that, prior to the date of violation, the person:

  • Received written notice of the revocation from the Secretary of State, or
  • Was orally informed of the revocation by a law enforcement officer, or
  • Had actual knowledge of the revocation, or
  • Was sent written notice as provided by 29-A §2482

The last option is by far the most common. Note that the State is not required to prove that the person received the notice, only that is was sent as required by §2482:

  • To the address most recently provided provided to the bureau of motor vehicles, or
  • If the person never applied for a license, the address on record with the Secretary of State, or
  • Must be sent to the address provided in the report of the law enforcement officer if that address differs from the address of record; or
  • May be served in hand.

This section is designed to give the prosecution several options, but it can often create a defense. For instance, a person who is stopped for OAS might give police an updated address since the one on their license is out of date. The person might then be convicted of OAS and later classified as habitual offender. In that case, the notice must go to the address given to police rather than the one on the license.

Note that Maine State mail is not forwarded so filing an address change with the postal service will not get BMV mail to your new address. A defendant who can document that they did set up mail forwarding and still missed the notice, may have a defense.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Once a person is revoked as a Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender, they must not drive until their license is restored. People who violate the revocation are subject to very serious mandatory minimum penalties. The class of crime and the penalties increase along with the severity of the person’s driving history. Here is a run down of the Minimums as set by 29-A §2557-A:

Operating after Habitual Offender Revocation Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Priors refer to Operating Under the Influence or HO offenses within 10 years.

  • 0 Priors30 days jail, $500 fine, class D misdemeanor
  • 1 Prior6 months jail, $1000 fine, class C felony
  • 2 Priors9 months jail, $1000 fine, class C felony
  • 3 Priors2 years prison, $1000 fine, class C felony

If a person operates after revocation and at the time is operating under the influence, driving to endanger, eludes police, passess a roadblock, or exceeds the speedlimit by 30 miles per hour or more, they can be charged with Aggravated Operating After Habitual Offender Revocation. Minimum penalties are laid out in 29-A § 2558:

Mandatory Minimum Sentences, Aggravated Operating After Habitual Offender Revocation
Priors must be within 10 years

  • 0 Priors6 months jail, $500 fine, class D misdemeanor
  • 1 Prior1 year prison, $1000 fine, class C felony, Prior HO or OUI counts
  • 2 Priors: 2 years prison, $2000 fine, class C felony, only HO priors count
  • 3 Priors:  5 years prison, $3000 fine, class C felony, only HO priors count

Clearly, the stakes are very high. Understand that the sentences listed above are the Mandatory Minimum Sentences, and a judge can impose a longer prison term. You can read this article for information about Maine’s maximum sentences.

Operating After Habitual Offender Revocation: Definitions, Sentences by
Loading Facebook Comments ...

Speak Your Mind