Massachusetts 3rd Offense OUI
Massachusetts has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in America. While the Commonwealth imposes tough penalties for first and second offense OUI (operating under the influence), the stakes are even higher for individuals charged with OUI-3rd offense. To be charged with third offense OUI, the individual must have been convicted and/or admitted to sufficient facts (“CWOF”) on two previous OUI/DUI charges.
An OUI conviction can have huge implications, including license suspension or revocation, fines, jail time and/or probation. Although first and second offense OUI/DUI are misdemeanors, third offense OUI in Massachusetts is a felony and carries a minimum mandatory jail sentence upon conviction. Furthermore, an OUI conviction will likely stay on your record permanently because judges are generally opposed to allowing a petition to seal OUI/DUI charges due to public safety concerns.
With the penalties increasing for each subsequent offense, mandatory jail time and a lengthy license suspension are imposed after a conviction for 3rd Offense OUI. With judges having broad discretion, the facts of the underlying case and ages of the prior convictions are factors taken into consideration when imposing penalties for a third offense OUI/DUI. The RMV will also impose penalties, including license suspension/revocation and installation of an interlock ignition device as a condition of license reinstatement.
Massachusetts Lifetime Lookback Period
In some states, prior drunk driving convictions do not permanently stay on an individual’s record and, as such, may not be considered when imposing penalties for a subsequent offense. For example, a state may not consider a prior OUI/DUI conviction that is more than 10 years old. However, in Massachusetts, an OUI conviction remains on an offender’s record permanently. While an individual charged with a second offense OUI in Massachusetts may be eligible for first offense penalties if the prior OUI/DUI is more than ten years old, that does not apply to offenders charged with third offense OUI or higher.
Interestingly, the lifetime lookback period also applies to prior out-of-state OUI/DUI convictions. As a Massachusetts driver’s license holder, if your license or driving privileges are suspended or revoked in another state, following a National Driver’s License Register notification, the Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV) will likely suspend or revoke your license as well. Consequently, a prior out-of-state OUI conviction will lead to a subsequent offense charge if charged with OUI/DUI in Massachusetts.
Potential Penalties for Massachusetts Third Offense OUI
In Massachusetts, third offense OUI is a felony and results in strict penalties, including:
Jail time. For a third offense OUI conviction in district court, you will be sentenced anywhere from 180 days to 2.5 years in jail / house of correction. If the case is prosecuted in superior court, you will be sentenced anywhere from 2.5 years to 5 years in prison. You must serve a minimum of 150 days before being eligible for release.
Fines. A conviction will result in fines and fees ranging from $1,000 – $15,000.
Driver’s license suspension. After a 3rd offense conviction, an offender’s license will be suspended for 8 years. After two years, the offender becomes eligible for a hardship license with the requirement that he/she install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle. A breath test refusal on a 3rd offense OUI results in an additional 5-year license revocation/suspension.
Child endangerment charges. An operator will face additional Child Endangerment charges if he/she has passengers under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of their arrest. Additional penalties include fines between $1,000 and $5,000, 90 days to 2.5 years in jail, and a one-year license suspension.
While alternative dispositions are available for first and second offense OUI/DUI charges, that is not the case with OUI- 3rd offense. Unless the charges get reduced, a minimum of 150 days in jail is required.
What are Your Options?
When charged with third offense OUI, you can either tender a guilty plea or take the case to trial. Because of the minimum mandatory jail sentence, an offender will not necessarily get a better deal by pleading guilty so it generally makes sense to go to trial.
At trial, the jury will not hear any evidence of the defendant’s prior convictions for OUI/DUI. If convicted of the underlying charges, the defendant has the right to a second trial where the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there are prior convictions. Depending on the age and location of the previous convictions, it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove the defendant is guilty of 3rd offense OUI.
Contact a Massachusetts Third Offense DUI/OUI Attorney
If you are facing charges of third offense OUI/DUI in Massachusetts, we are here for you. Our well-qualified and experienced DUI/OUI attorneys at Riccio Law will defend your rights in court while employing the best defense strategies for a favorable outcome. Contact our offices today to schedule a complimentary consultation and learn more about our services.