An OUI (Operating Under the Influence) conviction in Massachusetts can cause serious, long-term issues for both your personal and professional life, but even simply being arrested with these charges can cause major problems as well. However, it is important to keep in mind that an arrest and a conviction are two different things, and as your OUI attorney in Springfield, we will work to minimize your conviction or finding alternatives to the charges you are in court for. It is important that you begin working with an attorney as soon as possible so that you have ample time to develop a strategy to work towards the best possible outcome.
Read more about how OUI charges in Springfield can impact you, the possible penalties that each charge may result in, and the different situations that you can be in that will lead to you being arrested for an OUI. Contact us immediately for an initial consultation, where you will be able to speak with an experienced legal professional about the circumstances of your arrest, the charges you are facing, your criminal record and history of previous charges or convictions, and how we can help you with your case. Massachusetts is very strict with OUI laws, so it is important that you proceed with confidence in your legal representation as you strive towards the best possible outcome.
What Is an OUI?
An OUI arrest in Springfield means that you were caught Operating Under the Influence, which covers a wide range of violations where the person charged was found to be operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Since OUI charges do not simply apply to alcohol, simply passing a breathalyzer test is not the key to walking away from a traffic stop. Police will have the suspect perform a variety of field sobriety tests, which will help the officer determine if the driver is in control of their mental and physical faculties, and if they are in a safe condition to be operating a vehicle. These tests are highly subjective and qualitative, meaning that we will work aggressively to ensure that the outcome of these tests do not sway the judge or jury in your case.
“Failing” a field sobriety test simply means that the officer has found sufficient reason to believe that you are operating your vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but do not account for other factors such as physical disabilities, stress and adrenaline, and distractions and poor conditions on the roadside.
Charges of OUI are most-commonly issued for situations where an offender is driving under the influence of an intoxicant, but given the broad interpretation of the word “operate” can also apply to circumstances where a person is inebriated in a vehicle that is off, but still has the keys in the ignition. As you can see, the term “operating,” and therefore charges of OUI as opposed to DWI or DUI, give the state more opportunities to charge someone with an offense. Because of these complexities, it is essential that you pair with an experienced OUI attorney in Springfield as soon as possible.
OUI Charges in Massachusetts
OUI charges can stem from someone simply idling their car on the side of the road, or even napping in a rest area to sleep off the effects of alcohol. Additionally, OUI charges can stem from a variety of substances that go beyond alcohol, and can include legally-prescribed medication, illicit controlled substances, or legally-purchased marijuana. Ultimately, the question that must be answered is whether or not the driver is under the influence of some sort of intoxicant that is impeding their ability to operate their vehicle safely.
Submitting to a blood alcohol test, either with a breathalyzer or blood test, is not a legal obligation, but refusing to take one can cause further issues after your arrest. For instance, if you refuse a blood alcohol test you will be barred from applying for a hardship license unless you successfully appeal this issue within 15 days of your arrest. This appeal process does not guarantee that you will be allowed to get a hardship license, but with the help of an experienced OUI attorney in Springfield, you may increase your chances.
The legal BAC limit in Massachusetts is 0.08% for adult operators of passenger vehicles, 0.04% for CDL drivers operating a commercial vehicle, and 0.02% for drivers under the age of 21 (essentially, any detectable alcohol). As mentioned above, BAC is not the only factor that an officer accounts for before determining that it is appropriate to arrest someone for OUI. There are a variety of substances that do not show up on these tests, but can impact a person’s ability to drive even more seriously than alcohol.
OUI Penalties in Massachusetts
The penalties for OUI in Massachusetts vary depending on a wide range of factors, such as the offender’s existing criminal record and the number of previous OUI charges and/or convictions. Take a look below at the general punishments that come with OUI charges in Massachusetts:
OUI First Offense
A first offense OUI is a misdemeanor in most cases, unless there are enhancements to the charges. The possible penalties include a license suspension of a year (with the possibility of a hardship license), 30 months in jail, and somewhere in the range of $500 and $5,000 in fines.
OUI Second Offense
A second OUI is a misdemeanor as well, but has increased penalties including between 30 days and 30 months incarceration, fines of up to $10,000, and a suspended license for 2 years. In addition, all drivers are required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle for the first two years of having their license fully reinstated — any time spent operating a vehicle with a hardship license does not count towards these two years, even though the IID will be required for this situation as well.
OUI Third Offense
A third OUI is automatically increased to felony charges, and the penalties increase as well. They include up to 5 years in jail, up to $15,000 in fines, and a license suspension of 8 years. An IID is required for two years after the license is reinstated.
OUI Fourth Offense
A fourth OUI is a felony as well, and carries penalties of between 1-5 years in jail, up to $25,000 in fines, and a 10-year license suspension with an IID required upon license reinstatement.
OUI Fifth Offense
A fifth OUI is a felony and results in permanent loss of your license, between 2 and 5 years in jail, and up to $50,000 in fines. There is no chance to get your driver’s license back.
OUI With Child Endangerment
Child endangerment charges are additionally applied in OUI situations where there is a minor under the age of 15 in the vehicle. These charges will increase minimum sentences, fines, and possibly even move a misdemeanor up to a felony.
Contact Us Today
The Massachusetts courts are notoriously harsh on OUI charges, and your case will not be an exception. Contact us as soon as possible to begin working on your defense, and we will take steps towards the best possible outcome given your circumstances with a strong case and a variety of options of how we will handle your case.