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Massachusetts Second Offense DUI Penalties
If you've been charged with a second offense count of drunk driving in Massachusetts, the stakes are quite a bit higher than for a first offense. Most people I talk to are very nervous about the consequences, and many are concerned about the risk of spending time in jail.
If you are found guilty, it's very unlikely that you will be sentenced to jail time, although it is not impossible. Most likely, your penalty will be the minimum alternative disposition, below. It's still quite harsh, and you'll end up not driving for 3 years, and you'll be spending 2 weeks in an alcohol treatment center.
Should I Take the Case to Trial? Can I Win?
For most people you should absolutely fight the case rather than plead guilty to a 2nd offense OUI charge. When we speak, I'll talk to you about your specific situation, go over the facts of your case, review the police report, and give you my assessment of your chances to beat the OUI charges at trial. Generally, I win more than 2/3's of the cases I fight, but every case is different.
The reasons to fight it are as follows:
When does it make Sense to Consider Pleading Guilty on a 2nd offense DUI?
If your previous DUI conviction is over 10 years old, then you may be eligible for what is called a Second Chance 24D Disposition. I will enter a motion before a judge to request that your case be treated as a first offense DUI, with a 1st offense penalty. Most judges will agree to this, although some will not. And even if it is agreed upon, the registry will still treat you as a second offender, and require you to get an interlock device on your car. But for many people, doing this makes sense. At least they can drive again fairly quickly.
Other times it may make sense to consider a plea are:
Second Offense OUI Law & Penalty
Second Offense DUI - Frequently Asked Questions
Should I fight the case or work out a deal?
Most people charged with a second offense have very little to lose when fighting the case and a lot to gain. If you refuse the breath test then you are going to lose your license for three years and if you are found guilty for a second offense there is an additional two year loss of license and you will only be eligible for a hardship license a year into the two years. That means you wonít be eligible for a hardship license for four years into the five years. I have a number of cases that I have fought and won and the judge then reinstated my clientís license after a not guilty verdict so a day after the trial my clients were back out on the road.
For clients that have failed the breath test there is a thirty day loss of license but then the clients can get their license reinstated after that thirty days. If we win the case then we avoid the two-year loss of license as well as a minimum two-week inpatient alcohol education program, the guilty finding on your record and having to install the ignition interlock device.
If you have been charged with a second offense and your prior offense is more then ten years old then for some clients it does make sense to work out a deal if we can get the alternative disposition where the court will place you in a first offender alcohol education program and you can get back on the road within a few weeks.
What happens if I fight the case?
We will take the case to trial in front of either a judge or a jury and it will take us some number of months. There may be 2 or 3 court dates before a trial, which will probably be 6 months out. For a jury trial, it could take a total of 6 months to a year for the case to be resolved.
In some circumstances, it is possible to skip preliminary motions and schedule a bench trial immediately. This usually limits our defense options, so it does have disadvantages, but it may give you a chance to resolve the case in 2 months or less.
What is an ignition interlock device?
An ignition interlock device is an in-car alcohol breath screening device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over a pre-set limit. The device is located inside the vehicle, near the driverís seat, and is connected to the engine's ignition system.
If I fight the case can I get a hardship license while I'm waiting for my case to go to trial?
No, The Registry does not allow someone to get a hardship license while your case remains unresolved.
Am I going to jail?
It is rare to get jail time for a second offense OUI, but it is not impossible.
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