When you are charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the official charge in Massachusetts is Operating Under the Influence (OUI). Today, the terms ‘OUI’ ‘DUI’ and ‘DWI’ are used interchangeably. Operating under the influence has become one of the most commonly encountered offenses in Massachusetts. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 17,500 people were killed in automobile collisions involving alcohol in 2002. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this represents 41 percent of the 42,815 people killed in all traffic accidents and crashes that year. Statistical evidence such as this lead to the passing of ‘Melanie’s Law’ in 2005, the purpose of which was to enhance the penalties attached to OUI offenders.
Being charged with an OUI is a serious offense in the state of Massachusetts, and someone charged would be well advised to seek legal counsel. A person may be found guilty of Operating Under the Influence (OUI) if they are 1) at least 21 and 2) register at .08% or higher when tested for your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you’re younger than 21, you will face administrative penalties if you test at .02 or higher, plus standard charges at .08 or higher. If you are convicted, the penalties can be harsh and include imprisonment, significant fines, and suspension of driver’s license, probation, community service sentence, and mandatory enrollment in DUI traffic school.
Being charged with OUI for the first time can be an extremely stressful and frightening experience. However, retaining an experienced Massachusetts defense attorney for your case can relax the situation and minimize the apprehension. In the event one is found guilty of an OUI first-offense, an individual faces a maximum 2 ½ years in jail, a $5,000 fine, and a 5-year license suspension at your RMV hearing. Drivers arrested for a first OUI offense can get their sentences reduced by agreeing to complete a state-approved alcohol education program. This is not an option after the first offense.
As you probably expected, the penalties for a second offense OUI are more severe. In any case, a qualified OUI defense attorney can significantly reduce the harsh penalties you will be facing. If convicted of a second offense it is possible you will be punished by a fine of at least $600 to the maximum $10,000, and imprisonment for a minimum of 60 days ranging to 2 ½ years; Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 90, § 24. In addition, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will suspend your driver’s license for 2 years when you are convicted on a second offense OUI.