Being charged with a first offense OUI/DUI is a serious accusation and can lead to severe penalties and a criminal conviction. In Massachusetts, however, a defendant charged with a first offense OUI/DUI is presumed to be eligible for an alternative disposition known as the 24D Disposition. The 24D Disposition allows an individual to avoid more serious criminal charges and harsher penalties in exchange for enrollment in an alcohol awareness program.
A charge of a second offense OUI in Massachusetts carries much harsher penalties than a first OUI offense or a 24D Disposition. A second OUI charge means you face misdemeanor criminal charges in addition to fines, jail time, and the installation of an ignition interlock device. Unless the second offense was more than ten years after the first offense OUI, an alternative disposition like the 24D Disposition, will not be available to second offenders.
Penalties for Second Offense Drunk Driving in Massachusetts
A second offense OUI in the Commonwealth carries much heavier penalties as compared with a first offense OUI, especially if your first offense ended in a 24D Disposition. Penalties for a second offense include:
- $600 – $10,000 fine
- Prison time of 30 days to 2 ½ years
- License suspension up to two years
- Wait period of one year to apply for a hardship license
- Installation of ignition interlock device
Also know that a second offense OUI conviction in Massachusetts is a misdemeanor. You may have been able to avoid a criminal conviction for your first offense if you were eligible for a 24D Disposition and the case was Continued Without a Finding (CWOF). A CWOF is technically not an entry of “guilty”.
Another difference between a first and second offense OUI is that, in many cases with a first offense, defendants are able to apply for a hardship license three days after the case disposition. Following a second offense OUI conviction, however, you are unable to apply for a hardship license until one year following a conviction.
Finally, after the enactment of Melanie’s Law, if you are convicted of a second offense OUI, you must have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle at your own expense. The device must then remain in your car for a period of three years.
An Alternative to Second Offense OUI/ DUI Penalties/ The Cahill Disposition
You may be able to have your second OUI treated as a first offense OUI, similar to a 24D Disposition. This alternative to second OUI penalties is known as a Cahill Disposition and it arises from a 2004 case, Commonwealth vs. Patrick J. Cahill. Basically, if your second OUI offense is more than ten years after your first offense OUI, and the court agrees, you will face penalties as in the 24D Disposition for a first offense. Under the Cahill Disposition, the penalties include:
- Enrollment in an alcohol awareness course
- Two years probation
- 45-90 day license suspension
- Installation of ignition interlock device
Know that OUI/DUIs in other states will “count” for purposes of the penalties imposed as well as your eligibility for a Cahill Disposition. This means that if you have a previous DUI conviction in another state, less than ten years before the second charge, you will not be eligible for a Cahill Disposition in Massachusetts. Instead, you will face penalties for a second OUI offense.
Second Offense Inpatient Program Alternative
Most drivers who are charged with a second OUI (after a prior OUI conviction), are eligible for a two-week inpatient program that can help the defendant avoid jail time. The program involves:
- A 14-day stay in an inpatient facility paid for by the defendant
- A 26-week follow-up course
- A two-year probationary period
- Two-year DL suspension
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
Contact your Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer to discuss your eligibility for this program and to learn whether or not it’s the right move for your case.
Refusing the Breathalyzer for a Second Offense OUI/DUI
If you refused the chemical (breath, blood, or urine) test for a second offense OUI, your license will be immediately administratively suspended for a period of three years. You will not be able to apply for a hardship license until one year after the conviction.
Know that even if you are eligible for a Cahill Disposition, you will still face a license suspension of three years with the Massachusetts RMV. There is an opportunity to challenge this suspension within fifteen days and, therefore, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
Options for a Second Offense OUI
If you are not eligible for a Cahill Disposition because your second OUI was less than ten years after the first offense, or if the court did not provide the option of the alternative disposition, speak with an attorney about your legal options which may include:
- Fight the charges against you and enter a plea of not guilty. Speak with an attorney about any valid defense that you may be able to assert. For example, if the initial stop, arrest, or chemical test was administered improperly or without protecting your constitutional rights, you may have a valid defense. In addition, if the Commonwealth fails to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, a not guilty verdict will be entered.
- Enter into a plea deal. If the Commonwealth offers a plea deal and you and your attorney believe the deal to be in your best interest, you may be able to avoid a more lengthy trial process.
- Your final option would be to enter a guilty plea.
A Subsequent OUI/DUI Charge Means Third OUI Penalties
Even if your second OUI was more than ten years after your first offense and you are given the option of a Cahill Disposition, it is important to know that if you are charged with OUI again, you face third OUI penalties. This is true despite the fact that your second OUI was treated as a first offense under the Cahill Disposition.
Call the Lawyers at OUI Attorneys
If you or a loved one were charged with a second offense OUI, there are options available. Call the experienced criminal defense lawyers at the OUI Attorneys to discuss the charges against you and any defenses that may be applicable to the facts of your case. Calls are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days per week and the initial consultation is free.