The Massachusetts state statute for OUI, or operating under the influence, falls under Chapter 90, Section 24. It provides the law with regard to operating under the influence as well as the penalties, fines, subsequent convictions, and alternative dispositions.The statute also covers reckless and negligent driving, unauthorized driving, and failure to stop after a collision. Prosecution under this chapter can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, severe punishments, large fines, and prison time.
Chapter 90, Section 24
Chapter 90, Section 24(1)(a)(1) provides the Massachusetts definition of operating under the influence. It provides that anyone that operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher or 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 is guilty of OUI. In order to fall under the statute, the individual operating a vehicle under the influence must be doing so where the public has a right of access or right of access as invitees or licensees.
The penalties of violating this section, according to the statute, include a fine of between $500 and $5,000 and imprisonment of not more than two and one half years, or both.
Subsequent OUI penalties are also listed under this section. Second offense OUI penalties, according to the statute, include fines of $600 – $10,000 and imprisonment of 30 days to two and one-half years.Third offenses carry fines of $1,000 – $15,000 and imprisonment of 150 days to five years. A fourth offense means fines of $1,500 – $25,000 and prison time of one year to five years. A fifth OUI offense in Massachusetts will lead to a $2,000 – $50,000 fine and prison time of two to five years. There are enhanced penalties for subsequent OUI offenses up to the ninth offense, which carries a $2,000 – $50,000 in fines in a 10-year prison sentence.
Alternative Dispositions for First-Time Offenders
Another important piece of the OUI statute creates the opportunity for first-time OUI offenders to be given the option of an alternative disposition of their case, known as the 24D Disposition. Under this alternative, a first-time offender can avoid the severe penalties of a DUI in exchange for completing an alcohol awareness course.
Although also done through the Massachusetts RMV, the statute covers license suspensions for those convicted of OUI and provides the RMV with direction in certain cases. The statute also provides for punishments that include ignition interlock devices.
Implied Consent Law
Another important piece of the OUI Statute is the Massachusetts implied consent law. This section provides penalties for refusing a breath test. A first-time OUI refusal means a suspended license for 180 days. A second leads to a three year suspension, a third refusal means a five year suspension, and finally, a fourth or subsequent refusal will lead to a lifetime driver’s license suspension.
The statute also provides for the admissibility of evidence for breath test results. For example, the statute provides that so long as the breath (or other chemical test) was administered properly, the blood alcohol content results are admissible as evidence of drunk driving. The fact that a defendant refused a breath test, however, is not admissible as evidence in trial.
Contact an Attorney
If you have been charged with OUI under Chapter 90, Section 24 of the Massachusetts General Laws, contact an attorney as soon as possible. The law can be complex and an experienced OUI attorney can help guide you through the process and fight to protect your driving privileges.