Massachusetts is considered to have some of the strictest OUI laws in the country, including a maximum penalty of up to 2 ½ years in jail for a 1st offense conviction. In 2005, the state introduced harsher penalties for drunk driving through the enactment of Melanie’s Law following increased rates of reported OUI/DUI offenses. Some of the enhancements included increased penalties for a chemical test refusal / breathalyzer refusal and a requirement that repeat OUI offenders install an interlock ignition device in their vehicles.
Although commonly referred to as “drunk driving,” you do not have to be or feel drunk to be found guilty of OUI/DUI in Massachusetts.. In order to be convicted of OUI/DUI, the prosecution must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
Despite the potential for serious punishment, jail time is rarely imposed on First Offense OUI/DUI cases even if found guilty at trial. So long as there are no egregious or aggravating factors, a conviction for 1st Offense generally results in one year of probation, a one year license suspension (with eligibility for a hardship license after 90 days), a requirement to attend/complete the 24D Program, in addition to statutory fines and fees.
As an alternative to trial, a defendant can accept a plea deal that includes an admission to sufficient facts / continuance without a finding (“CWOF”) and results in a dismissal of the charge upon successfully completing one year of probation. The terms of the deal include a 45-day license suspension, statutory fines and fees, and the requirement to attend/complete the 24D Program. The probationer is eligible for a cinderella/hardship license upon proof of enrollment in the 24D Program.
In addition to a probation violation potentially resulting in the plea being revoked and a guilty finding imposed, even when a probationer is successful and the case is ultimately dismissed, he/she would be charged with 2nd Offense OUI/DUI if ever charged again in Massachusetts. With the minimal benefits offered by a plea deal, there is often little risk of going to trial.
In addition to a lengthier license loss and longer probation term, a conviction for 2nd Offense OUI/DUI is more likely to result in committed jail time. At a minimum, you will likely be required to attend and complete a 14 day in-patient drug and alcohol treatment program and, as a condition of reinstating your driver’s license, an Interlock Ignition Device will be installed in your vehicle.
A Third Offense OUI/DUI is a felony in Massachusetts and carries a minimum mandatory committed sentence if found guilty. While a majority of these cases stay in district court, a defendant can be indicted and their case transferred to superior court for a 3rd offense. If the case stays in district court any committed sentence would be to the house of correction / county jail. If the case is handled in superior court there is a potential for a state prison sentence.
Whether 1st offense or a subsequent offense, being charged with OUI/DUI in Massachusetts carries the potential for severe penalties. In addition to the potential penalties imposed by the court, the RMV issues harsh license suspensions for chemical test refusals, failed breath tests, and convictions. If you or a loved one was charged with operating under the influence in the Commonwealth, you need an experienced Massachusetts OUI Lawyer to fight for you in court and at the RMV. At Riccio Law, we have extensive experience handling OUI/DUI cases and know what it takes to beat the charges in court and get you your license back.