Massachusetts OUI Penalties

It is never a good idea to operate a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol or drugs, and Massachusetts takes a firm stance against those that do not follow the law. The recent enactment of “Melanie’s Law” makes OUI penalties in Massachusetts even more harsh. An OUI, or operating under the influence, in Massachusetts can result in large fines, suspension of your driver’s license and even jail time. People make mistakes, however, and there are options available to those that are facing a first time OUI offense or for those second-time offenders where it has been more than ten years since the first offense.

Penalties for OUI can vary based on several factors. The main factor considered under Massachusetts law, however, is the number of previous OUI convictions.

Penalties for 1st  OUI Offense

Per Massachusetts law on drunk driving, a first offense OUI in the Commonwealth will cost you the following:

  • $500 – $5000 fine
  • $250 head injury fee plus $50 victims fund fine
  • Prison time up to 2 ½ years
  • License suspension up to one year
  • Wait period of three months before the ability to apply for a hardship license

If you refuse to submit to the chemical test (blood, breath, or urine) on a first offense OUI, your license will be administratively suspended for an additional period of 180 days. If you fail the chemical test (.08% BAC or higher), an additional 30 day suspension will result.

You do have a right to appeal the administrative (RMV) suspension decision but you must do so within 15 days of your arrest.

The Alternative to 1st Offense OUI/ 24D Disposition

Many first time offenders in Massachusetts may be eligible for an alternative resolution to a first offense OUI known as a 24D Disposition. This alternative will allow a first offender to avoid many of the harsher first offender penalties. Penalties for a 24D Disposition include:

  • Case may be Continued Without a Finding which technically avoids the more severe criminal conviction
  • License suspension 45-90 days
  • Wait period of three days to apply for a hardship license
  • Mandatory completion of alcohol education program
  • Up to two years probation

If you are eligible for the 24D disposition, but you refused the breathalyzer, or chemical test, your license suspension will be for a period of 45-90 days on top of the 180 day refusal suspension. However, for a first time offender, you have the opportunity under a 24D Disposition to apply for a hardship license three days after the final disposition of the case (a plea or verdict is entered).

Penalties for 2nd OUI Offense

As an individual’s number of OUI offenses increase so do the penalties. If you are convicted of a second offense OUI in Massachusetts, you face:

  • $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

If you refused the breath test for a second offense OUI, your license will be suspended for a period of three years.

In the commonwealth of Massachusetts, most drivers who are charged with a second-offense OUI are eligible for a 14-day alternative inpatient program. You will plead guilty and automatically be sentenced to two years of probation, but if you follow the terms of the program, you will avoid jail. Speak to your OUI defense attorney to learn about the availability of this option.

Alternative to 2nd Offense OUI/ Cahill Disposition

If your prior OUI conviction was more than ten years before the second OUI offense, you may be eligible for a Cahill Disposition. The Cahill Disposition basically allows the second OUI offense to be treated as a first offense as under the 24D Disposition but with the understanding that you must have an ignition interlock device installed and in place for a period of three years.

It is important to know that although the second OUI offense was treated as a first offense under the Cahill Disposition, if you are arrested a third time for OUI, you will face third offense OUI penalties, not second offense penalties.

Penalties for 3rd OUI Offense

Penalties for a third OUI offense continue to get more severe. It is important to know as well that Massachusetts has an unlimited lookback period for prior OUI/DUI offenses. This means that it does not matter how long ago a prior OUI may have been, if you were convicted of OUI in the past, it will “count” as a prior OUI. A third OUI conviction in Massachusetts will mean the following:

  • $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

Breath test refusal for a third OUI means a five year loss of your license.

Penalties for 4th OUI Offense

Being arrested for a fourth OUI in the commonwealth of Massachusetts is a serious charge and one that carries heavy penalties for conviction. If convicted, you will face:

  • $1,500 – $25,000 fine
  • Prison time of one year to five years (includes mandatory jail time)
  • License suspension up to ten years
  • Wait period of five years to apply for a hardship license
  • 90 day inpatient alcohol awareness program
  • Installation of ignition interlock device

If you refused the chemical test for a fourth offense OUI in the Commonwealth, your license will be suspended for life.

Penalties for 5th OUI Offense

With a fifth OUI offense, the penalties are very severe and the impact on your life more pronounced. The fines for a fifth OUI offense in Massachusetts can be great and, because of minimum sentencing requirements, you will spend mandatory time in jail. The penalties include:

  • $2,000 – $50,000 fine
  • Prison time of two years to five years (includes mandatory jail time)
  • License suspension for a lifetime
  • No eligibility for a hardship license

Child Endangerment

There will be additional criminal charges and punishments if you were with a child fourteen years old or younger in the car at the time of arrest. In addition to OUI, you will also be charged with child endangerment while operating a motor vehicle. This charge is punishable by a fine of between $1,000 – $5,000 and jail time for 90 days to 2 ½ years in addition to a one year license loss.

Contact Our OUI Attorney Referral Service

Undoubtedly, if you are facing Massachusetts OUI/DUI penalties, you feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to expect. Contact our experienced OUI attorneys to understand your rights, options, and potential penalties moving forward. The criminal defense lawyers at OUI Attorneys have valuable OUI/DUI defense experience and can help ensure your legal rights are protected.