Being charged with OUI can result in serious penalties. The penalties can be even greater if, at the time of the OUI, a child fourteen years old or younger was present in the car with you. After the 2005 enactment of Melanie’s Law, Chapter 90, Section 24V of Massachusetts General Law provides a new criminal charge, Child Endangerment While Operating a Motor Vehicle. This charge carries penalties in addition to those provided by OUI law.
Penalties for Child Endangerment While Operating a Motor Vehicle
If you are found guilty of OUI and it is determined that a child fourteen years old or younger was present in the vehicle with you at the time, you will also be found guilty of a second criminal offense, child endangerment while operating a motor vehicle. The penalties that come with the charge are in addition to any penalties suffered as a result of an OUI conviction. Penalties include:
- $1,000 – $5,000 fine
- Imprisonment in the house of correction for a period of 90 days to two and a half years
- One year driver’s license suspension
If you are facing your second child endangerment while operating a motor vehicle charge, the penalties become more severe. The charge carries:
- $5,000 – $10,000 fine
- Imprisonment for six months to two and a half years in the house of correction or three to five years in state prison
- Three-year driver’s license suspension
Know also that the sentence imposed for child endangerment runs consecutively, and not concurrently, with the sentence imposed for the OUI charge. This means that once you have completed the OUI sentence, you can then begin the child endangerment sentence.
How an OUI Attorney Can Help
Considering the seriousness of an OUI charge and a child endangerment while operating a motor vehicle charge, calling a qualified criminal defense attorney is incredibly important. An attorney can help with both charges by discussing any valid defenses applicable to the case and any options you may have under the law.
If you are not convicted of OUI, you cannot be convicted of child endangerment while operating a motor vehicle. Therefore, hiring an attorney to fight the underlying OUI charge can ultimately lead to a dismissal or not guilty for the child endangerment charge. An attorney can also assist with negotiating a plea deal which may reduce or even eliminate your penalties.
OUI Attorneys Can Help
OUI Attorneys is a referral service for criminal defense lawyers who have valuable experience defending all types of criminal charges including OUI as well as child endangerment while operating a motor vehicle. A child endangerment charge can have a serious impact on you as well as your family. Call OUI Attorneys to schedule your free initial consultation.