Massachusetts ‘ Drunk Driving Laws
This summary covers the judicial penalties for the criminal offense of drunk driving. Many other non-judicial penalties will inevitably follow an admission to sufficient facts plea, guilty plea, or conviction. These can include increased insurance cost (or cancellation of coverage), inability to rent cars, job barriers, possible loss of profession credentials or certifications, etc. These non-judicial or economic penalties are not addressed in this Summary.
An OUI/DUI/DWI conviction plea of ‘guilty” or admission to sufficient facts will be a permanent part of your driving record. It does not “come off” your record after 5 years.a drunk driving conviction never comes off your record. Moreover, a drunk driving conviction, guilty plea or admission to sufficient facts plea is reported to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, which in turn, reports it to the National Driver’s License Registry. These computer records are accessible to driver’s licensing agencies nationwide.
Any non-resident driver’s home state driver’s license agency (RMV, DMV, DPS, etc.) will in all likelihood receive a notice from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles if any license suspension or case disposition (conviction or admission to sufficient facts) occurs in Massachusetts and the non-resident license is involved. In almost all cases an admission to sufficient facts plea, guilty plea or guilty verdict in a criminal case for drunk driving in the state of Massachusetts will cause a suspension to occur in the non-resident’s home state. A “not guilty” or other non-OUI/DUI/DWI disposition of the case will prevent such consequences.
BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT
Massachusetts recently became a “per se” state. This means that if your breath or blood are tested and the result is .08 or above, you will be found guilty if and only if the judge or jury believes the test was conducted properly and the reading was accurate. There are many reasons why the test may not be used against you. This may be as a result of poor record keeping by the police, machine malfunction or an improperly administered test. There are also medical and environmental reasons why the test may be. It is important to get legal advise from an attorney who specializes in drunk driving defense before admitting to anything. Only an experienced Boston OUI defense attorney can determine the prosecutor’s weaknesses associated with your case.
SUBSEQUENT OFFENDER STATUS
“Repeat offender” status for operating/driving under the influence of alcohol cases is determined in Massachusetts based upon a lifetime “look back” period. This status is used for purposes of increased mandatory minimum punishment. The last sheet of this summary is a GRID that sets out in a handy chart the MANDATORY MINIMUM punishment for OUI/DUI/DWI cases.
An operating/driving under the influence of alcohol bad record can come back to haunt a person facing a current OUI/DUI/DWI charge. Remember that a judge can review your ENTIRE record for the purposes of increasing your punishment (up to the maximum penalties set by law) over that which the judge would give another person with no prior record of an operating/driving under the influence of alcohol or similarly related offense.
In addition, a judge may allow the prosecutor (in some instances, after notice and a pre-trial hearing) to introduce evidence of prior instances where you were convicted of crimes, although it is extremely unlikely that a prior OUI/DUI/DWI charge will be used. The prosecutor may attempt to bring in evidence from any case, even those older than 5 years. This type of evidence can be used as “impeachment” evidence if and only if the accused takes the stand in his/her own defense. However, the use of prior criminal convictions, especially prior operating/driving under the influence of alcohol convictions is extremely rare. The use of prior convictions for operating/driving under the influence of alcohol cases in your present case is a complicate evidentiary question that requires analysis by an experienced drunk driving attorney.
SPECIAL NOTE FOR ANY CONVICTION OF OUI/DUI/DWI, PLEA OF GUILTY OR ADMISSION TO SUFFICIENT FACTS:
The sentencing court has broad powers at sentencing insofar as whether to order probation conditions. Furthermore, if probation is granted (in lieu of jail time), the conditions of probation can be extremely onerous and restrictive. Moreover, all jurisdictions charge monthly “supervision” fees so that the person pays for his/her probationary sentence. The length of probation is optional with the judge.
WARNING. The following penalties list license losses for each operating/driving under the influence of alcohol offense. In rare cases, an experienced drunk driving attorney may be successful in reducing the offense level you are charged with (such as a third offense reduced to a second offense). Regardless of the reduction or the sentence, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license based upon their records, which may include out of state offenses.
- First Offense
- Incarceration: Not more than 2 ½ years House of Correction
- Fine: $500-$5,000
- License suspended for 1 year, work/education hardship considered in 3 months, general hardship in 6 months
- Probation with mandatory participation in alcohol-drug education program paid for by defendant
- License suspended for 45 to 90 days (210 days for drivers under age 21) A hardship license may be available. The license is available for 2nd offenses if there is only 1 other prior offense and the conviction or plea on that offense occurred more than 10 years prior to the date of the arrest NOTE: 2 year loss of license is mandatory, however
- Second Offense
- Incarceration: Not less than 60 days (30 day mandatory), not more then 2 ½ years
- Fine: $600-$10,000
- License suspended for 2 years, work/education hardship considered in 6 months, general hardship in 1 year.
- 2 years probation
- 14 day confined treatment program paid for by the defendant
- License suspended for two years, work/education hardship considered in 6 months, general hardship in 1 year
- Third Offense
- Incarceration: Not less than 180 days (150 day mandatory), not more than 5 years State Prison (Felony status)
- May be served in a correctional facility treatment programs
- Fine $1,000-$15,000
- License suspended for 8 years, work/education hardship considered in 2 years, general hardship in 4 years
- Fourth Offense
- Incarceration: Not less than 2 years (1 year Minimum Mandatory), not more than 5 years (Felony status)
- Fine $1,500-$25,000
- License suspended for 10 years, work/education hardship considered in 5 years, general hardship in 8 years
- Fifth Offense
- Incarceration: Not less than 2 ½ years (24 mos. Minimum Mandatory), not more than 5 years (Felony Status)
- Fine $2,00-$50,000
- License for life, no possibility of hardship
LICENSE REINSTATEMENT FEES
First Offense $300.00 , Second Offense $500.00, Third Offense $1,000.00
As you can see, the consequences associated with an operating/driving under the influence of alcohol conviction are great. That is why it is important to take your case seriously and hire an experienced attorney to represent you.
Do not make the same mistake that so many others now regret.