Massachusetts DUI Laws & Penalties
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Get the Facts on the DUI Penalty You're Facing
The following is a list of both the most likely and the maximum penalties you are facing if you are found guilty of an OUI in Massachusetts. Drunk driving cases are a very complicated area of the law, and this information can be hard to understand. That's why I try to lay out "The real deal" for you, and I'll also be happy to speak with you to explain it to you in plain English.
Also remember OUI laws change frequently, and the impact of a prior conviction on your record can have unforeseen negative consequences in the future. The Registry also regularly changes requirements for getting your drivers license reinstated, or getting a hardship license.
If you've been arrested, you want to know what you are facing, and what your options are. That's why it makes sense to get a case evaluation from an experienced lawyer who handles drunk driving cases everyday.
If you fight the case and win at trial, your penalty is nothing. That's what I focus on in my law practice. I win my OUI cases more than 2/3s of the time. I can also help you work out the minimum penalty allowed by law if you chose to plead guilty (or CWOF). Please contact me for a consultation on what I can do try to win your case. (781) 380-7730
- Attorney Russell Matson
Massachusetts OUI Law - First Offense Penalty
The Real Deal on First Offense OUI Penalties:
The minimum penalty (above) is almost always available for a first offense DUI/OUI plea, if your lawyer has OUI defense experience and knows what to ask for, and as long as there is no accident, injury, or other extenuating circumstances. In addition, a smart attorney will include all other charges in the plea deal, including civil speeding ticket/moving violations as part of the same penalty, saving you fines and insurance increases.
Massachusetts OUI Law - Second Offense Penalty
The Real Deal on 2nd Offense OUI Penalties:
See my second offense OUI penalties page for detail on the implications of a 2nd offense drunk driving defense. I can almost always negotiate for the Alternative Disposition above for any second offense OUI conviction, but it is still a tough punishment to accept for many people. Given that there isn't that much risk of a worse outcome if you choose to fight the case in court, most people choose to take a chance at beating the case and getting no penalty, even if the case may be weak - sometimes you don't have much to lose by fighting it.
Remember, even if the prior is in another state, or decades old, you will be forced to get an interlock device installed in your car as a condition of license reinstatement. The Registry is harsh on this point, and there is nothing any lawyer can do about it. If you are facing a 2nd offense DUI, this in itself is a good reason to strongly consider fighting the case.
Massachusetts OUI Law - Third Offense Penalty Penalty
The Real Deal on 3rd Offense OUI Penalties:
For any third offense OUI conviction, you are facing a mandatory 5-6 months in jail if found guilty. For a 3rd offense charge, this is a good reason to fight the case and look for a chance to win and avoid jail time.
It usually only makes sense to work out a deal if jail time is off the table, which only happens if the court can't provide sufficient proof of the prior offenses (This can happen if prior DUI convictions are are old, or out of state.)
More on third offense DUI charge strategies.
Massachusetts OUI Law 4th Offense Penalties
The Real Deal on 4th Offense Penalties:
Everything about a 3rd offense applies to a 4th, 5th or subsequent drunk driving charge. Even a small chance of winning the case is worth the risk, since it is probably your only chance to avoid jail time. You need to consider fighting your case at trial in almost all cases.
Massachusetts OUI Laws - 5th Offense Penalty
If convicted on a sixth (may 6th), seventh (7th), or greater OUI offense, the punishment and mandatory jail time you are risking if found guilty will even longer. Call me for details.
OUI - Drugs
You can be charged with operating under the influence of any intoxicating substance, including drugs like marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and even prescription drugs.
The charges and penalties are essentially the same as a drunk driving charge, but the defense is a bit different. And the charges can often be much harder to prove, since there is no "breathalyzer" for drugs.
OUI With Serious Bodily Injury - Penalties
If you are charged with an OUI where someone is injured, the case can get much more complicated, and extremely serious.
You can face penalties of 6 months to 2.5 years in House of Correction or 6 months to 10 years in State Prison depending on how it is charged and prosecuted.
Even a drunk driving charges where there is possibly a minor injury or accident can get messy to resolve quickly. We've had cases where a person had minor to non-existant injuries, but the prosecutor didn't want to let the case go without multiple confirmations that the person wasn't really hurt.
So it can take some legal wrangling to fight and win OUI with injury cases, or even get a reasonably standard plea deal for a continuance without a finding.
But we have a lot of experience with these situations, so if your OUI charge has a possible serious injury attached, let me know right away, and we'll go over it together.
Legal Help and Advice on Masschusetts Drunk Driving Laws
Remember that almost no case is unwinnable. Some cases do have challenging facts, and I always give my clients a realistic view of what we can expect for an outcome. But an experienced attorney like myself will always find the positive elements in a case to establish reasonable doubt.
I've won many cases that looked nearly hopeless. Even when the facts look bad and there isn't much for us to work with, there's always a real chance that the DA or the police will fumble at trial and give us a chance to win.
You'd be surprised how often this happens. Prosecutors often drop the ball on evidence procedures, and are also frequently unable to prove prior offenses, especially if the previous convictions are more than a decade old. So even if you lose, you may not be facing the mandatory penalties you think.
If you are looking at jail time on a 3rd, 4th, or 5th offense OUI, it nearly always makes sense to go to trial, and make them prove their entire case against you. I've won many multiple offense drunk driving trials.
Call me and we'll talk about what I can do for you.
Attorney Russell Matson
Further Reference - M.G.L. Chapter 90, Section 24 of the Mass Drunk Driving Statute (not easy reading!)
My Melanie's Law page (Massachusetts drunk driving laws passed Oct 2005)
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Already been Arraigned? Here's what you need to know before your pretrial court date.
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Braintree, MA 02184