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OUI Penalties: First Offense

OUI offenses in Massachusetts are governed by Title XIV, Chapter 90, § 24, which deems it a criminal offense for a person to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Massachusetts’ laws have become very strict regarding OUI offenses. With the passage of Melanie’s Law in 2005, the state has put large emphasis on punishing those who are found guilty of OUI. Thus, it is extremely important that a person understands the potential penalties associated with OUI so that they may retain the best lawyer possible to fight and defend themselves.

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 have their sentences reduced by agreeing to complete a state-approved alcohol education program. This is not an option after the first offense.

Recognizing the weight of the penalties associated with OUI is a priority, and hiring a seasoned and skillful attorney to stand in your corner and defend your rights is another. Attorney Patrick J. Murphy is highly knowledgeable and experienced in this area of the law, and would be the ideal ally when faced with OUI charges.

Implementation of Melanie's Law

The consequences associated with the implementation of Melanie’s law are as follows:

  • Increased the license suspension for breathalyzer refusals,
  • Increased the waiting period for hardship licenses,
  • Increased the penalties for subsequent offense OUI convictions by imposing a requirement that those convicted of a second offense or higher have an ignition interlock installed in all vehicles subsequent offenders drive.
Failing a Breath Test

In the event that you refused a Breathalyzer test, which estimates blood alcohol content (BAC) from a breath sample, for a first offense the Registry of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license for 180 days. However, if you consented to the Breathalyzer test and are 21 years or older and register a BAC of .08 or greater, or if you are under 21 and register a BAC or .02 or greater, your license or right to operate will be suspended for 30 days. Also, if you are between the ages of 18 and 21, you will be required to participate in a Youth Alcohol Program (YAP) and serve an additional 180 day suspension. There are enhanced penalties if you are under 18 and you are arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol. You will be required to serve an additional one year suspension and attend the YAP program.

First Offender Driver Alcohol Education Program

Massachusetts offers a disposition for OUI, which is commonly referred to as “24D” or First Offender Driver Alcohol Education Program. A typical First Offender Driver Alcohol Education Program consists of 40 hours long to be completed over 16 weeks, and costs roughly $600. The program must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The benefit of completing this program is that the G.L. c. 90 Section 24D program will supersede license suspensions for Breath Test/Chemical Test Results. Therefore, the program prevents the penalty for refusing a breathalyzer (180 day license suspension) to interfere with a first time OUI offender gaining a hardship license. Upon completion of this program, a first time OUI offender may apply to the RMV for consideration of a hardship license.

The Lifetime Look-Back Law

Massachusetts has a lifetime look back for all prior OUI convictions whether within the State or outside of Massachusetts. Sometimes a prosecutor may be unaware of a prior offense. If that happens, you will avoid the criminal penalties associated with the higher offense, but the Registry of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license if you are found guilty according to their records, which could result in the RMV imposing a more severe suspension than the court. The only exception to the Lifetime Look-Back Law will occur under three specific conditions:

  • Your new OUI is an Alcohol Program assignment.
  • You have only one prior OUI conviction.
  • You have an Alcohol Program that is older than 10 years.

For more information about suspension of driver’s licenses, please view the chart below.

DescriptionAge of Driver1st Offense2nd Offense3rd Offense4th Offense5th Offense
Alcohol/Drug Program 21+ Years Old Under 21 years45-90 days 210 days
OUI Drugs AnyOne yearTwo yearsEight yearsTen yearsLifetime
OUI Alcohol AnyOne yearTwo yearsEight yearsTen yearsLifetime
(Out of State) OUI Drugs/Alcohol AnyOne yearTwo yearsEight yearsTen yearsLifetime

As evidenced in the information above, OUI/DUI/DWI charges are a serious matter carrying serious penalties and require a serious understanding of the law. Only an attorney specializing in OUI offenses will have the requisite knowledge and legal dexterity to fight the charges against you. As a Massachusetts defense attorney, Patrick J. Murphy has the swift cunning and brilliant competency to battle for your freedom. If you or someone you know is facing OUI charges, it is highly recommended that you seek legal counsel, and with his thorough knowledge and expertise in the field, Attorney Murphy is the wise choice. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today for a free and confidential legal consultation by calling (617) 367-0450 or completing the contacts tab on our website.

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