Being arrested for OUI (Operating Under the Influence) in Massachusetts can mean that you are facing some serious impacts and repercussions if you are convicted. This time in your life can be confusing, stressful, and rightfully overwhelming as you try to piece together the different pieces of this situation and determine how you can best move forward with your life after this arrest, in a way that will not be completely detrimental to you, your family, or your career.
We understand that our clients are extremely concerned about working towards the best possible outcome in these cases, which is why we take the time for an initial consultation and case evaluation and give prospective clients an opportunity to speak directly with us about their arrest, charges, and how we have had success with cases similar to their own.
In order to make the most of this consultation, we have gone through some of the more common questions in regards to OUI arrests in Massachusetts below, in order to give you the chance to get a better idea of this situation and maximize your initial consultation by being able to ask questions as they directly relate to you.
Take a look below at some frequently asked questions about Massachusetts OUI arrests, and contact us now to schedule your consultation. The sooner that we begin working together, the more time we will have to build a strong defense and work towards the best possible outcome for your situation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Operating Under the Influence In Massachusetts
What is an OUI?
Charges of OUI stand for Operating Under the Influence, which alleges that the driver was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and their ability to safely operate the vehicle was impaired. In Massachusetts, the legal limit for an adult operating a passenger vehicle is a BAC of 0.08%. For a CDL driver, the limit is 0.04% while operating a commercial vehicle, and for a minor under the age of 21, the limit is 0.02%.
The term “operating” covers additional situations that go beyond simply driving, meaning that a person may be arrested for OUI if they are in a vehicle with the key in the ignition, whether or not the vehicle is in motion, and found to be intoxicated.
Do You Need To Fail a Breath Test To Be Charged With OUI?
While a breathalyzer is one of the first things that an officer will request a person to perform during a traffic stop that involves suspected intoxication, it is only one small part of the entire process. A breathalyzer tests for alcohol present in the breath, which is used as a way to roughly estimate the amount of alcohol concentrated in the person’s blood.
However, a breathalyzer is widely agreed to be inaccurate in many situations, and it additionally does not test for intoxication with any other drugs. Therefore, the officer will require field sobriety tests in order to determine if the person is in control of their mental and physical faculties in addition to other methods to determine sobriety.
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer?
During a traffic stop for suspected OUI, you are under no legal requirement to submit to a breathalyzer test. However, it is important that you understand that by refusing to take the test, you automatically forfeit your license as agreed upon in the contract you sign when you are issued a driver’s license by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
If you are under the age of 21 or have prior OUI convictions, refusing a breath test can result in an automatic suspension of three years or more. However, if you have no prior convictions and are over the age of 21, you will automatically have a 180-day suspension. In some cases, we may be able to appeal this suspension, but only within 10 days of the arrest.
Deciding whether or not to refuse or submit to a breathalyzer depends on your own preferences and the benefits or consequences of either option.
Will a First OUI Go On My Criminal Record?
An OUI, like any other arrest, goes onto your record as an arrest and a charge right off the bat, but being charged with a crime is very different from being convicted of a crime. If your OUI is CWOF (continued without a finding), dismissed, or you are found not guilty, then the arrest will remain on your record but you will not need to discuss this arrest with prospective employers.
If there are no additional charges or factors with your first OUI, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, which has fewer consequences and smaller penalties. However, a conviction will go on your record as such no matter if it is a misdemeanor or a felony.
How Long Will My License Be Suspended?
There are many different factors that go into determining how long your license will be suspended, including your history of OUI convictions. Below are the general suspension guidelines for OUIs in Massachusetts:
- First OUI: 1-year license suspension
- Second OUI: 2-year license suspension
- Third OUI: 8-year license suspension
- Fourth OUI: 10-year license suspension
- Fifth OUI: Permanent license suspension
However, there are some situations where you may be able to apply for a Hardship License, which will allow you to operate a motor vehicle between certain hours and certain locations in order to allow you to avoid financial or health hardships that would be otherwise unavoidable if you were not able to operate a vehicle.
How Much Will I Be Fined Following an OUI Conviction?
There are a variety of different fines that you will be required to pay depending on how many OUI convictions are in your criminal record, as well as a variety of other factors. The base fine that you will be required to pay for an OUI are as follows:
- First OUI: $500 to $5,000
- Second OUI: $600 to $10,000
- Third OUI: $10,000 to $15,000
- Fourth OUI: $1,500 to $25,000
- Fifth OUI: $2,000 to $50,000
In addition to these fines, there are other reinstatement fees and charges that you will be required to pay to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and a variety of other costs or fines that you may need to pay depending on the conviction and penalties.
Is an OUI a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
If you are charged with a first or second OUI, you will be charged with a misdemeanor crime. However, if you are convicted of two OUI charges and are then arrested for a third, fourth, or fifth OUI, you will automatically be facing felony charges.
Felony charges often mean that the penalties are much more severe and that you will likely need to serve time in a state penitentiary.
Will an OUI Impact My Ability to Work?
Being arrested for an OUI does not give an employer grounds for firing you, and potential employers are not legally allowed to ask if you have ever been arrested for a crime. However, being convicted of an OUI is public knowledge, and an employer has a right to deny you employment based on this conviction.
Additionally, if your employer requires you to have a driver’s license and your license is suspended either during your trial or after a conviction, then this is just one other way that an OUI can indirectly impact your ability to work.
Can I Get an OUI if the Car Is Not Running?
The answer to this question is not very straightforward, because there are a variety of different factors that go into determining the circumstantial evidence of a crime, as well as determining whether or not how you were using the car counts as “operating” the motor vehicle. In Massachusetts, simply having the key in the ignition can count as operating a vehicle, meaning that you can be charged and arrested for OUI in this case.
However, simply having the keys out of the ignition and the car turned off does not automatically clear you of a possible OUI charge. For instance, if there were multiple eyewitnesses that saw you driving or saw you collide with a pedestrian or another vehicle, and you were then found parked on the side of the road, passed out with the keys out of the ignition, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to counter the argument that you were not actively operating the vehicle.
Additionally, and perhaps more obviously, if you are involved in an accident and are then found in the vehicle, it does not matter if the car is still running or if the keys are in the ignition.
There are many other situations that will call into question the circumstances of the situation in order for an officer, judge, and jury to determine whether or not your actions truly qualify as OUI and ultimately determine whether or not you will be convicted of these crimes.
Will I Need To Install a Breathalyzer In My Car?
If you have been convicted of one OUI, you will not be required to install ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle once you are allowed to have your license reinstated. However, you WILL be required to use an IID if you are granted a hardship license during your suspension.
Additionally, you will be required to have an IID installed for 2 years after having your license reinstated after a second, third, or fourth OUI conviction. In these cases, any time with an IID installed during a hardship license does not count towards these 2 years.
You will be required to cover the cost of the IID and the installation for each of these situations.
What Is a Hardship License?
A hardship license, otherwise known as a “Cinderella License” or a work license, is a restricted license that may be granted to someone who is serving their license suspension following an OUI conviction in order to avoid any serious hardships that they may encounter if they are unable to operate a vehicle at all. The RMV only considers hardships to be related to employment, education, or medical needs.
If you are granted a hardship license, you will be allowed to operate a vehicle either during certain times of the day, between certain locations, or a combination of the two. In addition, you will need to install an IID that will require you to pass a breathalyzer test every time you go to turn your vehicle on. As mentioned above, you will be required to pay for the IID and the installation cost, in addition to the fees that come with getting a hardship license instated.
Additionally, there is a waiting period that you are required to complete before you are allowed to apply for a hardship license:
- First OUI: 3 months until you can apply for a hardship license
- Second OUI: 1 year until you can apply for a hardship license
- Third OUI: 2 years until you can apply for a hardship license
- Fourth OUI: 5 years until you can apply for a hardship license
- Fifth OUI: No possibility of a hardship license
Do I Need a Lawyer For an OUI Case In Massachusetts?
Regardless of whether or not this is your first OUI, it is extremely important that you hire an experienced attorney who will fight to ensure that the ruling on your case is the best possible outcome. As you can see from some of the points made above, every step of your OUI case will play an important role in your long-term success, and a good attorney can be the difference between a conviction and a Continued Without a Finding (CWOF) on your case.
By working with a trusted professional, you can focus on managing the rest of your life during this difficult time while we are working on navigating the legal issues of your case.
Is Continued Without a Finding the Same as a Not Guilty Finding?
If your case is left as Continued Without a Finding, what this means is that you will essentially agree to a variety of penalties and restrictions such as fines, alcohol abuse courses, and probation. In order to reach a CWOF, you will need to admit to the court that there is substantial evidence against you, but you will not technically plead guilty to the charges.
After you have fulfilled the requirements and penalties that a judge will hand to you after this agreement, you will not have a conviction on your record. However, you will still have an arrest for OUI on your record, which can adversely impact your insurance rates and possible future issues with license suspensions if you are ever arrested for OUI again.
Contact Us Today
If you have more questions about OUIs in Massachusetts, the best thing that you can do is contact us as soon as possible to begin working on your case with an OUI attorney. We will begin building your defense as soon as possible and identify the ways that we will be able to navigate this case towards the best outcomes.