Getting arrested and charged with Operating Under the Influence (OUI) in Massachusetts can have serious and long-term negative impacts on both your personal and professional life. It is important to keep in mind through this process that being charged with OUI is not the same as being convicted of OUI, and with a good attorney, you will be able to work through these charges and develop a strategy to get towards the best possible outcome.
Read more about how OUI charges in Massachusetts can impact you, the penalties that come with them, and the violations that qualify an offender for the charges to begin with. Contact us as soon as possible for an initial consultation, where you will be able to discuss your charges with an experienced legal professional who will be able to explain to you how we have handled these situations in the past, and how we can help you with your case. Massachusetts is known as a very strict state for OUI laws and penalties, so it is important that you act quickly and partner with the right attorney for your circumstances.
What Is an OUI?
The charge OUI in Salem, MA stands for Operating Under the Influence, and covers a wide range of situations where the individual operating the vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. The main question that must be answered in order to determine if an OUI is happening is whether or not the person operating the vehicle has complete control over their mental and physical capacities. This means that alcohol is not the only intoxicant that an officer is concerned about, and passing a breathalyzer test is not sufficient to clear you of any charges or avoid an arrest.
If you are pulled over and suspected of OUI, you will undergo a series of field sobriety tests that an officer will have you perform in order to determine your functional abilities at the moment. However, it is important to remember that these tests are highly subjective to the officer, and do not account for any physical disabilities or handicaps that the test-taker may have, among other factors that can impact the officer’s determination of whether you have “passed” or “failed” the exams.
Charges can stem from driving under the influence of an intoxicant, but can also be applied to situations where you have pulled to the side of the road and your keys are still in the ignition. This is why Massachusetts uses the term “operating,” and not “driving” in their charges. Ultimately, the term “operating” has a wider range of applications than “driving,” and there are more opportunities for the state to charge someone with an offense. In any situation, you need to partner with an OUI attorney in Salem as soon as possible.
OUI Charges in Massachusetts
As mentioned above, an OUI can be issued to someone who is simply idling in their car on the side of a road, and even in situations where the car is off, but the keys have not been taken from the ignition. Additionally, OUI laws cover a wide range of substances, from alcohol to marijuana, valid prescription medication to scheduled controlled substances.
While you are not legally obligated to submit to a breath alcohol test or to take part in field sobriety tests, you will not be able to apply for a hardship license if you have refused these options during your traffic stop. However, you have 15 days to appeal this issue after your arrest. This is yet another reason it is essential that you begin working with an attorney as soon as possible.
The legal BAC (blood alcohol content) limit in Massachusetts is .08%, or .04% for a CDL driver operating a commercial vehicle. If the driver is under the age of 21, then the legal BAC is reduced to .02%, which is essentially any alcohol at all. As mentioned above, BAC is not the only indicator of being under the influence, and there are many other factors that will play into the officer’s determination of your level of impairment.
OUI Penalties in Massachusetts
The penalties for OUI in Massachusetts vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the offender’s history of OUI charges and others. Below is a brief rundown of the general penalties that come with OUI charges:
OUI First Offense
A first offense OUI is considered a misdemeanor (unless there are enhancements — see below). The possible penalties include a license suspension of a year (with the possibility of a hardship license), up to 30 months in jail, and between $500 and $5,000 in fines.
OUI Second Offense
A second offense OUI is also a misdemeanor, but the penalties are increased. They include between 30 days and 30 months in jail, fines of between $600 and $10,000, and a 2-year license suspension. You will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle for 2 years after having your driving privileges fully reinstated.
OUI Third Offense
A third OUI is a felony, and your penalties will increase to between 150 days and 5 years in jail, up to $15,000 in fines, and an 8-year license suspension. Additionally, you will need to install an IID upon license reinstatement.
OUI Fourth Offense
A fourth OUI is a felony with penalties of between 1-5 years in jail, $25,000 in fines, and a 10-year license suspension. An IID is required after you get your license back.
OUI Fifth Offense
A fifth OUI is a felony that results in permanent loss of your license, 2 to 5 years in jail, and up to $50,000 in fines.
OUI With Child Endangerment
If you are charged with an OUI but there is a minor under the age of 15, you will be charged with child endangerment in addition to the OUI charges. These enhancements will play a significant factor in the overall penalties in your case and comes with a minimum (or increased minimum) sentence and increased fines. Additionally, you will not be able to apply for a hardship license if your charges would have otherwise allowed for them.
Contact Us Today
Before you begin taking any additional steps to deal with your OUI arrest in Salem, contact us as soon as possible. We will be able to advise you on how best to proceed, and represent you in the Massachusetts courts in a way that will seek to minimize your penalties and the long-term repercussions of this mistake that you were caught in. Our experience with these cases will be a tremendous asset to your own situation and will give you the assistance you need to get back on the right track.