State court officials, the secretary of state and prosecutors agreed on Monday to review 10 years of convictions to ensure that people guilty of serious crimes committed while driving had their cases forwarded to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for a license suspension, fixing a gap in state law.

Going forward, prosecutors and the courts have finalized a new process to make sure criminal conviction information that should trigger a license suspension is communicated to the BMV, according to a joint statement by the secretary of state’s office, the judiciary and state prosecutors.

The change in process was prompted by a recent crash in Oxford County involving a Woodstock man who was convicted in 2021 of killing another motorist during a 2019 police chase, but whose license was never properly suspended because the court failed to send a half-page form that the BMV needed to suspend his license. Police allege that he crashed into another vehicle this month, critically injuring another person.

Prosecutors are likely to know in the coming days or weeks whether they need to take urgent action on convictions that occurred within the last year but were never forwarded to the BMV, said Maegan Maloney, district attorney in Kennebec and Somerset Counties and president of the Maine Prosecutors’ Association.

But the prosecutors’ review could turn up more, and the total number of cases that will require a second look totals in the thousands. Completing the hand audit will likely take months longer, encompassing every conviction statewide for manslaughter, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault, assault, criminal threatening and reckless conduct, Maloney said.

There is still a disagreement between the courts and the the secretary of state over whether state law is sufficiently clear about where the court’s responsibility to forward information ends and the BMV’s power to suspend a license begins, Maloney said. But she said state officials did not want to wait for a legislative fix, which still may be required down the road.


“The secretary of state’s office, the judicial branch and the DA’s offices have agreed we’re not going to wait for a legal clarification as to who’s responsibility it is to do what,” Maloney said Monday evening. “Instead, we’re simply going to solve the problem.”

So far, only four cases have been identified statewide that should have resulted in notification to the BMV. On Monday, the BMV said all of those drivers already had their licenses suspended for other violations, and BMV staff were working to track down the documentation needed to process the convictions they previously did not know about.

The hasty corrective action follows the March 4 arrest of Ethan Rioux-Poulios, 26. Police allege Rioux-Poulios led officers on a chase that resulted in a crash that critically injured 28-year-old Nicole Kumiega. At the time of the wreck, Rioux-Poulios’ license should have been suspended but had remained active, revealing the systemic failure by the courts and the BMV to properly communicate about the case.

Going forward, prosecutors will be responsible for delivering to the court a new form certifying that a criminal conviction involved a motor vehicle and should result in a notification to the BMV. The court then will be responsible for sending that information to the BMV. The process is designed to catch the small number of crimes that are not contained in the section of law about driving, but relate directly to conduct committed behind the wheel.

“This is an awful situation, and our hearts and prayers go out to Ms. Kumiega and her loved ones,” Chief Justice Valerie Stanfill and Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said in a joint statement released to the Portland Press Herald Monday night. “The tragedy has revealed a systemic communications problem that we are committed to fixing immediately.”



The problem stems from how Maine laws are categorized and structured, and how the courts have relied on those strict divisions to determine when staff needed to send along conviction information to the BMV.

One section of statute, Title 29-A, pertains exclusively to driving, rules for vehicles and vehicle-related businesses, from traffic infractions to laws governing car dealerships. A different section of law, Title 17-A, defines crimes against people and property, from misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct up to more serious offenses including manslaughter and murder.

For criminal charges defined in Title 29-A, such as operating under the influence or driving without a license, the courts automatically send conviction notices to the BMV, which then suspends the driver’s license.

But prosecutors regularly charge people with more serious crimes defined in Title 17-A that relate directly to their conduct behind the wheel. However, not every one of those cases appears at first blush to be driving-related. It depends on how prosecutors choose to pursue the case and what statute they decide applies to the alleged crime.

For instance, after his March 4 arrest, Rioux-Poulios was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, among other charges, alleging his use of a vehicle caused serious bodily injury to Kumiega and another person, Ethan Wyman, 29, who was treated and released from the hospital after the crash. But only one of the aggravated assault counts actually mentions Rioux-Poulios’ use of a vehicle.

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