Being arrested for OUI (Operating Under the Influence) has a wide range of impacts on your life, both personally and professionally. Therefore, it’s essential that you partner with an experienced OUI attorney in Worcester to ensure that these charges are handled with care, and that the outcome of your case is favorable given your circumstances. There are many different ways to approach an OUI charge, and each approach depends on your criminal history, whether or not this is your first OUI, the details of the traffic stop and your arrest and more.
Read more below about some generalities regarding OUI arrests in Massachusetts, and contact us now for a free initial consultation to learn about how we can help you in your current situation. It is important that you work with an experienced OUI attorney in Worcester to be certain that the outcome of your case is one that you understand and accept, and can be confident that you and your defense did everything possible to arrive at the ruling you receive. Without the right attorney at your side, you may find that your OUI charges continue to complicate your life in ways that you would have never expected through your trial.
What Is an OUI?
OUI is an arrest in Massachusetts for Operating Under the Influence. In many other states, the charges are either DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), but Massachusetts uses the term Operating in order to cover a wider range of enforceable actions. Massachusetts is known as a very strict state when it comes to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, as illustrated by the choice of words in the crime OUI, as well as bills such as Melanie’s Law.
Essentially, the term “operating” covers a wider range than the word “driving,” which implies that the vehicle is in motion and the driver is intoxicated. Operating a vehicle includes driving, but can also apply to situations where a person is in a vehicle with the keys in the ignition, even if the vehicle is not running.
OUI Charges in Massachusetts
To be charged with an OUI in Massachusetts, an arresting officer must determine that the person operating the vehicle does not have proper control over their mental and/or physical faculties that allow them to safely operate a vehicle. This includes alcohol intoxication, but extends to other drugs such as prescription medication, unauthorized prescription medication, marijuana, and other controlled substances.
The legal BAC (blood alcohol content) limit varies depending on the driver. A driver over the age of 21 operating a passenger vehicle has a BAC limit of 0.08%, whereas a CDL driver operating a commercial vehicle has a limit of 0.04%, and a driver under the age of 21 has a limit of 0.02%. However, a breathalyzer or blood test is not the only way that an officer determines to make an arrest; instead, they rely on a series of field sobriety tests to assess the driver’s abilities. However, these tests are highly subjective and are not admissible in court, which is something we will focus heavily on throughout your trial.
Field sobriety tests are not simple pass/fail tests, and leave a lot up to the officer. They do not account for things like the driver’s physical abilities or possible handicaps, nor do they factor in distractions such as pressure and fear, or the roadside conditions.
OUI Penalties in Massachusetts
A driver’s history of OUI arrests are a major impact on the penalties that they receive, but there are other enhancements that can change the situation drastically as well. One is child endangerment, which is applied if the person is arrested for OUI while there is a minor under the age of 15 in the car. Another situation is if they are arrested in possession of illegal substances, or operating the vehicle with an open alcohol container. The following penalties are the baseline penalties for the OUI, and do not take these other factors into account.
OUI First Offense
A first-offense OUI can result in fines of up to $500, a license suspension of 1 year, and the possibility of up to 30 months in jail. This is a misdemeanor charge. You may be allowed to apply for a hardship license, which will give you driving privileges for limited times throughout the week in order to get to and from work or avoid other hardships.
OUI Second Offense
A second offense is still a misdemeanor but now has between 30 days and 30 months of jail time, up to $10,000 in fines, and a 2-year license suspension. Upon having your license reinstated, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, which will require you to take a breathalyzer before being allowed to start the car. You will be required to keep the IID in your vehicle for two years. You may be able to apply for a hardship license, which also requires an IID, but the time with your hardship license does not count towards the 2 years required with an IID once you have a full license.
OUI Third Offense
A third OUI is a felony charge, and has significantly increased penalties along with the increased charge. You may be given up to 5 years of incarceration, $15,000 of fines, and an 8-year license suspension. In addition, you will be required to install an IID for 2 years after having your license reinstated.
OUI Fourth Offense
There is a 10-year license suspension, between 1-5 years in jail, and fines of up to $25,000. Your fourth OUI is the last OUI where you will have an opportunity to get your license reinstated, and you will be required to install an IID in your vehicle.
OUI Fifth Offense
A fifth OUI results in a permanent loss of your driver’s license, as well as fines of up to $50,000 and incarceration for between 2 and 5 years.
Contact Us Today
No matter the specifics of your OUI arrest, contact us today to begin working on your defense and learning more about your options for the future. This charge can be extremely embarrassing, as well as costly and detrimental to all aspects of your life, so it is important that you handle them with care. Our experience representing similar cases to your own will be a major advantage for you, and will give you the confidence you need to get through this situation.