Operating Under the Influence, OUI in Massachusetts Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 90, section 24

Massachusetts has strict laws regarding the prevention and enforcement of drunk driving. In MA, if you are stopped or arrested for drunk driving, there are several important things to know. In MA, there is a tiered penalty system for OUI charges and offenses. Every time a person is convicted of OUI, the sentence becomes harsher and there are mandatory punishments that are dictated by law. Therefore, it is important to take every OUI charge seriously to avoid having convictions on your criminal record that can cost you potential jail time and the permanent loss of your license in the future.

In 2005, MA passed a law called "Melanie's Law" that implemented strict guidelines on the enforcement and prevention of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. One part of this law made it possible for the state to suspend your license for refusing to take a breath or blood test when stopped or arrested by the police.

If CONVICTED these are the possible penalties for the various OUI offenses in MA:

1st Offense OUI:
-Jail time up to 2.5 years in the House of Correction.
-Fines from $500 - $5000.
-License can be suspended up to a 1 year.
(There are options to try to reduce the suspension for work and other hardships after a period of 3 months.)

2nd Offense OUI:
-Jail: 30 days mandatory, not less than 60 days, up to 2.5 years in the House of Correction.
-Fines from $600- $10,000.
-License can be suspended for 2 years, and the Court will require an "Ignition Interlock device" be installed in your car at your own expense during hardship period for a mandatory 2 years. The car will not start unless the driver passes a breath test. Failure to comply with the Ignition Interlock device will result in license revocation for 10 years to life.

3rd Offense OUI:
-Jail: Mandatory 150 days, not less than 180 days, up to 5 years in STATE PRISON. (felony)
-Fines from $1,000- $15,000.
-License will be suspended for 8 years and the state could seize or sell your car. It is likely that a mandatory alcohol program may be required in prison.

4th Offense OUI:
-Jail: Mandatory 1 year, not less than 2 years, up to 5 years in STATE PRISON. (felony)
-Fines from $1,500 - $25,000.
-License will be suspended for 10 years and the state could seize or sell your car.

5th Offense OUI:
-Jail: Mandatory 2 years in STATE PRISON, not less than 2.5 years, up to 5 years. (felony)
-Fines from $2,000 - $50,000.
-License revoked for LIFE. Not eligible for hardship license.

6th, 7th or more OUI Offenses:
–all increase minimum mandatory jail time in State Prison and increase fines.
–all will revoke your license for LIFE.

PLEA-BARGAINING / TRIAL OPTIONS: OUI with SERIOUS BODILY INJURY:
-Jail: Time varies –could be anywhere from 6 months in House of Correction to 10 years in STATE PRISON! These are very serious charges and must be addressed quickly and thoroughly. Every case is different, but most become increasingly difficult to resolve before trial due to the victims involved.

PLEAS vs. TRIALS:
In almost every OUI case, there are pieces of evidence to challenge the Commonwealth's case. The burden of proof is on the state, and there are generally arguments to be made to either suppress evidence before a trial, or to argue reasonable doubt in front of a jury. For most first offense cases, it is usually in the best interest of the defendant to accept a plea deal that avoids a criminal OUI conviction on their record—the plea is usually a "CWOF" or a "Continuance Without a Finding" that will ultimately have your case dismissed after a set period of time (assuming the defendant complies with all of the other obligations imposed by the Court.). A CWOF is a good plea because it can generally avoid the loss of a license for an extended period of time (over 6 months) –assuming that there is no breathalyzer refusal violations. There will be fines to be paid and the defendant's insurance rate may increase, but there will not be a criminal conviction on the defendant's record. For 3rd OUI Offenses (and any after), it is usually in the best interest of the defendant to fight the charges through a jury trial since the defendant will be facing jail time and significant fines/loss of license.

MA MODEL JURY INSTRUCTIONS

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***NOTE: You can appeal your refusal suspicion within 15 days of the arrest! This is a complicated process, and you are unlikely to be able to get your license back without the help of a seasoned attorney.

BREATHALYZER REFUSAL CHART -  
  LICENSE SUSPENSION
If you are a driver over the age of 21 – with:  
No Prior OUI offenses 180 days
1 Prior OUI offense 3 years
2 Prior OUI offenses 5 years
3 or more Prior OUI offenses Lifetime
   
If you are a driver age 18-21 – with:  
No Prior OUI offenses 3 years + 180 days
1 Prior OUI offense 3 years + 180 days
2 Prior OUI offenses 5 years + 180 days
3 or more Prior OUI offenses Lifetime

NOTE: The additional 180 day suspension for drivers under age 21 is designed to get youth offenders charged with OUI who refuse a chemical test to undergo alcohol education. You will be required to take an alcohol education course; however, upon completion of the course the additional 180 day suspension may be waived if this is a first offense.
   
If you are a driver under age 18 – with:  
No Prior OUI offenses 3 years + 1 year
1 Prior OUI offense 3 years + 1 year
2 Prior OUI offenses 5 years + 1 year
3 or more OUI offenses Lifetime

NOTE: The additional 1 year suspension for drivers under age 18 is designed to encourage youth offenders to take an alcohol education course. This course is mandatory; however, if the defendant is a first time offender then the extra 1 year may be reduced to 180 days upon entry into an approved alcohol education program.

LOCATIONS & CONTACT INFORMATION

     Locations

Eastern Debt Solutions and the Law Offices of Richard S. Ravosa Esq.

email: info@easterndebtsolutions.com

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