The Bureau of Motor Vehicles indefinitely revoked the license of a Penobscot County driver on Friday, the first corrective action the agency has made since it learned of a hole in bureaucratic procedure that kept state courts from notifying the bureau of all serious crimes committed while driving.

A spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office, which oversees the BMV, could not confirm the identity of the driver because of federal privacy rules. However, dates of conviction and driving history information provided by officials match the record of Melinda Hutchinson, who was convicted of manslaughter in a July 2019 crash that killed a 70-year-old Bangor man. The BMV confirmed that Hutchinson’s license had not been revoked until Friday.

Hutchinson, 31, pleaded guilty on Nov. 19, 2021, to manslaughter and operating under the influence in a crash that killed Gordon Stuart, who was driving along Broadway in Bangor when Hutchinson crossed the center line and slammed into his vehicle head-on. Hutchinson was found to have heroin in her system at the time of the wreck, the Bangor Daily News reported.

She is currently serving 30 months of a 10-year-sentence for manslaughter, and could be released as soon as 2023. Had the state not discovered the flaw in its system and issued the revocation, Hutchinson could have been back on the road when she left prison because only her conviction for OUI was sent to the BMV for a temporary license suspension, despite the clear expectation in state law that her privilege to drive be revoked indefinitely because she caused a death while driving under the influence.

There are at least three other cases in Maine that need similar corrective action, and prosecutors across the state are reviewing a decade of cases to try to catch others that should have resulted in suspensions or revocations. None of the three other cases involved drivers with an active license. Each had been suspended previously for other, earlier convictions, meaning the length of their suspensions will grow when the new paperwork is processed. Moving forward, there is an agreement between prosecutors, the courts and the BMV on a fix to prevent the same bureaucratic problem from occurring again.

The error came to light after a crash March 4 in Oxford County in which the alleged driver had a previous conviction for manslaughter for killing a man in a crash but had retained his license in error.


The source of the problem stems from what were differing interpretations by the courts and the BMV of how they should apply state law. According to statute, the courts have an obligation to send a short document to the BMV every time someone is convicted of a driving-related crime. With that confirmation in hand, BMV clerks apply suspensions or revocation according to their rules.

But for years the court system has relied on a narrow definition of which convictions are “driving-related,” leaving out some of the most serious felony convictions that relate to conduct behind the wheel.

Their reasoning is rooted in how the laws in Maine are structured. Statutes that clearly relate to driving are organized in one section, Title 29-A, which include a myriad of vehicle-related rules, from traffic laws to regulations concerning car dealers. Laws defining crimes against people and property, ranging from misdemeanors like disorderly conduct to serious felonies like manslaughter and murder, are defined in another section, Title 17-A.

In the past, those convicted of typical driving offenses defined in Title 29-A had their conviction information automatically printed off and mailed to the BMV for suspension or revocation.

But prosecutors regularly charge people for conduct committed with a vehicle using laws defining crimes against people, including manslaughter, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault, assault, criminal threatening and reckless conduct. In those cases, the court records for their convictions will not mention the use of a vehicle in the commission of the crime and will not always generate a notice from the courts to the BMV.

For instance, a driver could be charged with aggravated assault for intentionally injuring someone with their car. But on paper, depending on the precise section of the law used to charge the driver, a conviction for that offense could appear identical to someone convicted of aggravated assault for hitting someone with a club or bat.


The systemic gap was revealed this month when police charged Ethan Rioux-Poulios, 26, of Woodstock, with leading police on a chase through Oxford County that resulted in a head-on crash, critically injuring a 28-year-old woman.

Ethan Rioux-Poulios shown after he was arrested following a police chase and crash this month.

Rioux-Poulios’ license should have been suspended last summer when he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in an eerily similar 2019 police chase that ended in a crash that killed a 70-year-old Norway man. In that case, prosecutors forwarded attested copies of Rioux-Poulios’ conviction to licensing authorities. But the BMV requires a second form, the half-page abstract of conviction, before it can move forward with a suspension.

Although a BMV clerk asked the court to send the one-page document for Rioux-Poulios, no one followed through and his license was never suspended.

In the case of Hutchinson, her conviction on the OUI charge triggered an immediate driving suspension because OUI is a typical “driving-related” crime. But the court did not notify the BMV of her manslaughter conviction, which should have led to her license being revoked.

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