Operating After Revocation
The following is not legal advice but is for information only. Legal advice is when an attorney applies the law to a person's individual circumstances and advises them on their legal options or potential exposure to legal harm, which a web page clearly does not.
Driving privileges for someone determined to be a habitual offender are normally revoked for three years. That is a huge blow for a driver in a rural state like Maine and a person is in serious trouble if they drive in that time. It being a charge of operating after habitual offender revocation, shortened to OAR.
Operating after HO Revocation (OAR)
An OAR is a strict liability offense, in that the intent of the person driving is irrelevant. The person simply has to have a revoked license and drive. That said, being informed of a revocation is an element that the government must prove - with one exception. So at trial the burden is on the government to prove that at the time of driving while their license was revoked, the person:
Received written notice of the revocation from the Secretary of State, or
Was verbally notified of the revocation by a law enforcement officer, or
Had actual knowledge of the revocation, or
Was sent written notice.
The last point means that proof of being sent the notice is enough. As long is it was sent to the most recent address given to the BMV, or the address on record with the Secretary of State, or sent to an address provided in a police report (should it differ), or it is served by hand, that is enough.
There are harsh consequences for OAR offenses with mandatory minimums that a judge cannot go below by law. These mandatory minimums are based on the number of prior offenses within a span of 10 years. The term "Priors" in this context refers to prior offenses of Operating Under the Influence (OUI) or OAR within a period of 10 years.
For individuals with no prior offenses, the consequences include 30 days of jail time, a $500 fine, and classification of a conviction as a class D misdemeanor. In the case of one prior offense, the penalties increase to six months of jail time, a $1,000 fine, and classification of the conviction as a class C felony. With two prior offenses, the punishment escalates to nine months of jail time, a $1,000 fine, and classification of the conviction as a class C felony. Lastly, individuals with three prior offenses face a sentence of two years in prison, a $1000 fine, and classification as a class C felony.
Aggravated Operating After HO Revocation (Aggravated OAR)
Aggravated OAR brings heightened penalties based on other facts and charges over an above a person driving with a revoked license. This happens when a person also eludes an officer (with a chase), which is a separate charge, drives while operating under the influence (clearly an offense), speeds 30mph or more above the posted limit (which would be a separate charge of criminal speeding), or passes a police roadblock (also a separate criminal charge).
For aggravated OAR, the following are the mandatory minimum sentences. If there are no prior OAR offenses, the consequences include six months of imprisonment (jail), a $500 fine, and classification as a class D misdemeanor. In the presence of one prior offense, the penalties escalate to a one-year prison sentence, a $1000 fine, classification as a class C felony, with consideration of both prior Habitual Offender (HO) and Operating Under the Influence (OUI) counts. With two prior offenses, the punishment increases further to a two-year prison sentence, a $2000 fine, classification as a class C felony, but only previous OAR offenses are taken into account. For individuals with three prior offenses, the severity of the sentence to five years in prison, a $3,000 fine, classification as a class C felony, and once again, only previous OAR offenses are considered for this determination.
Mandatory minimum sentences are exactly that - minimums that a judge cannot go below. However, after a trial or on an open guilty plea (not a plea bargain in other words), a sentence could be greater. It may be possible to plead to a lesser charge by striking language from the charging instrument about prior offenses, lessening the mandatory minimum sentence.
Options for defending an OAR charge are extremely limited. If the address given to a police officer at the time of the alleged offense is different from that on record, the notice must be sent there and not what is with the Secretary of State or BMV. A mail forwarding service that was set up that did not happen may also provide a defense - though proof that it was sent is all that is needed.