Massachusetts has harsh penalties for a third DUI, or OUI, operating under the influence, as it is called in the Commonwealth. If you or someone you know is arrested for a third drunk driving offense, you’re likely very concerned about the consequences and what this will mean for your driving privileges and your future. As with previous OUIs, the answer depends upon the circumstances of the case as well as the outcome of the prior convictions.
Is it Really a 3rd OUI? The Massachusetts Lookback Period
Each state in the United States has its own “lookback period.” A lookback period is the period of time a prior OUI (or DUI or DWI) will remain on your record for purposes of determining penalties for subsequent OUI convictions. For example, in a state with a lookback period of ten years, if an individual is arrested for OUI/DUI and has one prior OUI offense 12 years ago, the individual’s arrest will be considered only a first offense for purposes of the prescribed penalties. This is so because the law only “looks back” ten years for prior OUI/DUI offenses.
Massachusetts, however, has a lifetime lookback period. This means that all prior offenses will “count” as a prior offense for purposes of the statutory punishments. For example, if you are arrested for OUI and you were convicted of a prior OUI/DUI twenty years ago, you will face second OUI offense penalties in Massachusetts as Massachusetts will “look back” at your entire lifetime.
If you have prior convictions for out-of-state DUIs, will those be considered prior offenses in Massachusetts? The answer is, yes. If your driver’s license was suspended or revoked in another state, that state is mandated to make record of the suspension or revocation through the National Driver Register. The Massachusetts RMV, through the National Driver Register, will be provided record of all prior suspensions and revocations regardless of the state in which they occurred. For those individuals whose license suspension or revocation was as a result of an OUI/DUI conviction, they must then take additional action with the Massachusetts RMV.
If you have any prior OUIs, DUIs, or DWIs in other states, administratively you will face Massachusetts RMV penalties based on all prior OUI/DUIs. Criminal prosecutions are separate and apart from the administrative/RMV penalties, however, prior out-of-state DUI’s will also be used in the criminal case against you to determine your ultimate punishment.
Penalties for Third Offense Drunk Driving
If you are convicted of a third offense OUI/DUI in the Commonwealth, the penalties are severe. The punishments for a third offense are:
- $1,000 – $15,000 fine
- Prison time 150 days to five years (includes mandatory jail time)
- License suspension up to eight years
- Wait period of two years to apply for a hardship license
- Installation of ignition interlock device
In addition, if you refused the breath test your license will be suspended for five years.
It is also important to know that for third offense OUIs in Massachusetts, you will be charged with a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor as for first and second offenses. You will also be faced with mandatory jail time of 150 days. Finally, for those facing a third offense, there is no option for an alternative disposition. For a first offense, and for certain second offenses, individuals may have the option to enter into a 24D Disposition which allows him or her to register for alcohol awareness classes in exchange for less severe administrative and criminal penalties. This option is not available to third offenders. For these reasons, it is very important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected and to discuss any valid defenses to the charges.
Child Endangerment Charges
With a third OUI charge, you also face Child Endangerment charges if you were driving with a child fourteen years old or younger when arrested for OUI. This additional serious charge will cost you a fine of between $1,000 to $5,000 and 90 days to 2 ½ years in jail. In addition, if convicted, you will also suffer a one-year license suspension.
Does the Jury Know About Previous OUIs/DUIs?
If you decide to fight the charges against you (and not enter into a plea agreement), the jury will not be aware of any prior OUI/DUI convictions. The ommonwealth will have to prove that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol for the case at issue. The jury will not be influenced by prior convictions. Know also that in any criminal case, the Commonwealth must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, a high threshold to meet.
In October 2005, Melanie’s Law was passed. Melanie’s Law effectively makes OUI/DUI penalties for repeat offenders, more severe. For example, the law, in part, provides:
- Mandates for Ignition Interlock Devices in certain cases
- Separate criminal penalties for those charged with OUI/DUI while driving on a suspended license
- Criminal penalties for knowingly allowing someone to drive your vehicle with a suspended license
- Created the new criminal offense of Child Endangerment OUI
- Increased license suspension periods for chemical test refusals
For a Third Offense OUI/DUI in the Boston, Massachusetts Area, Call OUI Attorneys
A third offense OUI/DUI is a very serious criminal offense in Massachusetts and comes with severe penalties and restrictions of your driving privileges. Faced with jail time and a felony criminal record, it is critical to speak with an attorney that has OUI/DUI defense experience and can help advise you as to any options or legal defenses that apply to your case. The criminal defense lawyers from OUI Attorneys referral service are dedicated OUI/DUI attorneys and are available to speak with you and discuss your third offense OUI/DUI charges.