I have been charged with a third offense OUI? What should I do?
When someone is charged with a third, fourth or even a fifth offense OUI in Massachusetts, the stakes are much higher that for a first or second offense. You are looking at mandatory jail time for a minimum of 5 months if you are found guilty.
There are two ways to handle 3rd (or 4th) offense OUI cases:
Fight the Case
The first option is to take the case to trial and fight for a complete win: a not guilty, or a dismissal. Most of the time, this is the best strategy to pursue. The advantage of fighting the case is obvious: If we win, it is off your record – no penalty, no probation, and no additional license loss. And I win over 2/3s of the cases I fight.
The disadvantage of taking the case to trial is that you don’t always win. Unfortunately, no lawyer can guarantee a win in court. Some cases are better than others, and juries can be unpredictable. And when you lose a third or fourth offense OUI, there is a substantial risk that you are going to go to jail.
If the Commonwealth can prove all of the prior offenses you are absolutely going to go to jail, because a minimum penalty on a 3rd offense OUI is 5 month mandatory and a fourth offense OUI is a year mandatory. Of course, they can’t always prove the convictions, especially if some of them are old, so that can sometimes be a negotiating tactic to avoid jail time.
Work Out a Plea Deal
The other option is to try to work out a plea deal in the case. This is a logical option if there is a chance to avoid jail time. And this is something I’ve had success with. As you can see in some of my actual case results, I’ve had a bunch of 3rd and 4th offense charges knocked down to 2nd and 3rd offenses, reducing and eliminating jail for these charges. Challenging the validity of the prior offenses is a strategy I’ve had success with.
Here is a video about a typical case where I was able to get a 3rd offense treated as a 2nd offense, so the client did not have to serve jail time:
Proving Prior OUI Convictions
It is the job of the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were convicted of a prior OUI, and in order to do that they need to get the paperwork from any prior offense you may have. To actuall produce the paperwork from prior convictions can be more difficult than it sounds, especially with old prior OUIs. The older the conviction, the worse the paperwork is. If it is not complete, I can argue that just because somebody with the same name as you was convicted of an OUI that isn’t enough proof. If they don’t have a matching picture, a matching Social Security number, a matching date of birth, or if the address isn’t the same I can argue that they really didn’t prove it was you.
I understand that when your future is on the line, and you face a real threat of jail time, these decisions are extremely difficult.
Sometimes working out a deal makes sense, if:
- We don’t have a great chance of beating it
- We may have a pretty good case and a solid chance to win, but the client says I don’t want to take the risk if I can cut a deal to guarantee no jail time.
Another drawback of working out a deal is, usually if you work out a plea for no jail time, you are still looking at a very long loss of license from the registry. But, certainly taking the possibility of time in jail off the table makes a plea agreement a good deal, and a happy outcome for many people.
And sometimes, the prosecution won’t offer a decent deal, won’t take jail off the table, and can sufficiently prove the prior offenses to the court to be assured of the 3rd offense penalties.
In situations like this, it makes sense to take a shot at a trial, as the only possibility to win. We can discuss how I think a jury will perceive the facts of your case, and what I think our chances would be at trial. Some cases are decent, and some are tough. And either way, the penalties of losing are substantial.
If the consequences of losing a trial and being found guilty by a jury are no worse than the deal being offered, it is worth going for the win.
Please call me to talk about any multiple offense DUI charge, and I’ll give you my absolute honest, no bull assessment of your case: Whether I think I have a good shot to win it, or work to find a deal you can live with.
Massachusetts 3rd Offense OUI Laws & Penalties
- Jail time: From 180 days to not more then 5 years (150 day mandatory to be served)
- Fines: $1000-$15,000.
- License suspended for 8 years.
- Commonwealth may seize your vehicle and sell it.
Massachusetts 4th Offense OUI Laws & Penalties
- Jail time: From 2 years to not more then 5 years (1 year mandatory to be served)
- Fines: $1500-$25,000.
- License suspended for 10 years.
- Commonwealth may seize your vehicle and sell it.
Please contact me for a free case evaluation and legal defense consultation on any 3rd or 4th offense drunk driving charge. I’ve fought dozens of these multiple offense cases in court, so I can give you the benefit of my experience and knowledge in a free consultation.
Attorney Russell Matson
(781)380-7730 – 24 hours a day