When you think of an OUI (operating under the influence) or DUI (driving under the influence) charge, driving while under the influence of alcohol likely comes to mind. However, it is also illegal under Massachusetts law to drive while under the influence of drugs. Being convicted of the crime of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs will carry the same penalties as those associated with operating under the influence of alcohol.
Definition of OUI in Massachusetts
Massachusetts statutes Chapter 90, Section 24 provides the definition of the crime of OUI. It states, in part, that an individual is guilty of the crime of operating under the influence if he or she operates a motor vehicle and has a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher; or drives while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants or stimulants, or the smelling or inhaling the fumes of any substance having the property of releasing toxic vapors. The statute further provides that these “narcotic drugs, depressants or stimulants” are those substances as defined under the Massachusetts Controlled Substances Act.
The State Must Prove You Consumed an Illicit Substance
The Massachusetts Controlled Substances Act provides a lengthy list of all banned, illegal substances. It is important to know that it is illegal to operate a vehicle after consuming any of the substances listed in the MCSA, which includes depressants, stimulants, marijuana, as well as prescription drugs.
In order for the state to convict you of the crime of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, they must prove all of the elements of the crime of OUI which include:
- That you were operating a motor vehicle;
- On a public way;
- While under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
In an operating under the influence of drug case, however, the state must also prove:
- That you were under the influence of one of the substances in the Controlled Substances Act.
Proof of OUI Drugs in Massachusetts
Proving operating under the influence of drugs in Massachusetts is very similar to proving operating under the influence of alcohol. Normally an arresting officer will make observations of the manner in which you are driving, your behavior throughout the arrest process, and results of the field sobriety tests. All of these observations and evidence apply equally to an OUI drug case.
One major difference between an OUI alcohol and an OUI drug case, however, is that in an OUI alcohol case an arresting officer will often request a breath test to detect the presence of alcohol in your blood. In an OUI drug case results of a breathalyzer are not useful. Instead, an officer will likely ask that you submit to a blood test which will enable the state to provide scientific evidence of the presence of drugs in your blood.
If drugs are detected in a blood test, the state must then show the substance is one of the ones covered under the Controlled Substances Act.
OUI Attorneys Can Help
The network lawyers at OUI Attorneys have experience defending the rights of those accused of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They are familiar with Massachusetts law and the elements of the crime that must be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, in order to obtain a conviction against you. These lawyers are available to help you and to discuss any valid legal defenses and options under the law.