In Massachusetts, certain individuals charged with Operating Under the Influence (OUI/DUI) pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24 must attend and complete the 24D Program as a condition of probation. Generally, the 24D Programconsists of approximately 40 hours of alcohol education classes over a period of 16 weeks and costs approximately $600.00.
Eligibility for the 24D Program in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, there are a limited number of defendants eligible for a 24D Disposition. Generally, the following individuals are eligible for the 24D Program:
Defendants Entering Into 24D Plea Agreement on 1st Offense Charges
Individuals charged with first offense OUI/DUI are eligible to receive what’s commonly referred to as a 24D Disposition upon entering into a plea agreement. In a 24D disposition, the case is continued without a guilty finding (CWOF) for a period not to exceed two years, although, usually for one year, and the defendant must attend and complete the 24D Program as one of the conditions of probation.
As part of the 24D disposition, the defendant’s driving privileges are suspended for a period of 45-90 days (separate from the initial license suspension at the time of arrest) but he or she may be eligible for a hardship license during the suspension period upon proof of enrollment in the 24D Program. Whereas, individuals convicted of first offense OUI/DUI in Massachusetts receive a one-year license suspension and are not eligible for a hardship license for at least ninety (90) days.
NOTE: Although the charge gets dismissed and the defendant avoids a guilty finding upon the successful completion of a 24D disposition, a subsequent operating under the influence charge in Massachusetts would be a second offense OUI/DUI.
Defendants Convicted of 1st Offense OUI/DUI at trial
Defendants found guilty of first offense OUI/DUI in Massachusetts generally avoid jail time and are ordered to attend and complete the 24D Program as a condition of probation. However, individuals convicted of OUI after trial receive a one-year license suspension, as opposed to the 45-90 day license suspension in a 24D plea agreement, and usually are not eligible for a hardship license for at least 90 days.
Defendants Charged with 2nd Offense OUI/DUI (1st offense more than 10 years prior)
In Massachusetts, individuals charged with 2nd offense OUI/DUI whose first offense was more than ten years prior may be eligible for a first offense disposition (aka Cahill Disposition). In these cases, defendants are entitled to receive the same punishment as if it were a first offense and must complete the 24D Program as a condition of their probation.
NOTE: a subsequent OUI/DUI charge in Massachusetts for defendants that receive a Cahill Disposition would be a third offense, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of six (6) months imprisonment. The defendant must serve 150 days before eligible for release.
Should I enter into a 24D Disposition?
The decision of whether or not to enter into a plea agreement for a 24D Disposition can only be answered on a case-by-case analysis. Although OUI/DUI cases are winnable at trial, if there is a high breathalyzer reading or a serious accident with injuries and evidence of alcohol or drug consumption, entering into a 24D plea agreement and avoiding a conviction at trial may be advisable. However, it might be worth going to trial in a case where there is no breath test and the evidence is limited to the testimony of a police officer.
Although no two OUI/DUI cases are the same, an experienced Massachusetts OUI/DUI attorney can evaluate the strength and weaknesses of the government’s case and file motions in an attempt to suppress or limit the evidence that can be used against you at trial. While you may think the case against you is strong and you should just enter into a 24D plea agreement, hiring a lawyer to represent you on the charges may be the difference between accepting probation and getting a not guilty at trial.
Contact a Massachusetts OUI Lawyer
Riccio Law is a Massachusetts criminal defense and personal injury law firm and founder / lead attorney Anthony R. Riccio has extensive experience handling OUI/DUI cases as a defense attorney and former prosecutor. As lead counsel on over 50 trials, including 35+ jury trials, Attorney Riccio is a skilled trial attorney with a nearly 85% acquittal rate.
If you or a loved one is charged with OUI/DUI in Massachusetts, contact Riccio Law at (508) 226-4500 or click here to schedule a free consultation and learn more about the firm.