OUI Law in Massachusetts
Operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI), can present significant safety issues and therefore, the state of Massachusetts takes these charges very seriously. In 2011, 9,887 people were arrested for driving under the influence. That year, there were 114 alcohol-impaired fatalities caused by drivers over the age of 21, and 15 such fatalities by drivers under the age of 21.
If you are arrested in Massachusetts on probable cause of an OUI, an officer will likely want to take you to a facility to get your blood tested. Because Massachusetts is an “implied consent” state, you are deemed to have already agreed to this blood test. If you refuse it the first time, your license can be suspended for at least 180 days, and your car can be impounded for 12 hours. If you refuse the test a second time after a prior OUI or DWI conviction, your license can be suspended for three years and your car can be impounded. In order to get your car back, you will have to pay for towing and storage.
The legal limit for blood alcohol content in Massachusetts is .08% for ordinary drivers over the age of 21. The limits are lower for drivers under the age of 21 and commercial drivers. If you are charged with an OUI, a Massachusetts OUI defense attorney can help you determine the best strategy with which to fight the charge and possible penalties. Strategies for dealing with OUIs are not the same as strategies for dealing with other types of crimes, so it is important to select an attorney with specific OUI experience.Penalties for OUI in Massachusetts
For a first offense OUI with no injuries, you can be sentenced to up to 2 ½ years in a House of Correction. The fine is $500-5,000, with your license suspended for a year. Prosecutors and judges may be willing to consider a deal with you so that you can get a hardship license for purposes of going to and from work or school. Your criminal defense attorney may also be able to work out a deal whereby you receive probation instead of jail time. However, there are times when deals are difficult to obtain, therefore it’s a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who has experience negotiating with prosecutors.
It can be tempting to take a deal or go to trial without consulting a private OUI defense attorney in order to reduce embarrassment or hassle, and conclude your case as quickly as possible. But while penalties for a first time conviction may be manageable, they can have far-reaching effects. In Massachusetts, an OUI conviction stays on your criminal record permanently. This means that it can be used for purposes of determining your sentences for future convictions, should any occur. Penalties for OUIs ramp up the greater the number of marks on your criminal record. For example, a third offense carries the potential of a felony conviction with a mandatory five to six months in jail, and other serious consequences.
At trial for an OUI charge, the prosecution must prove three things: (1) you were operating a motor vehicle, (2) you operated it on a public way, and (3) while operating the motor vehicle you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Each of these must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. A skilled trial attorney with knowledge of police procedures at an OUI stop can attack any of these three, but particularly the third element of “intoxication,” depending upon the circumstances of your case.
If you have been pulled over for an OUI or charged with an OUI, contact an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer to fight for you. Stephen Neyman has been helping individuals like you respond to and successfully defend against criminal charges for over two decades. Contact us at (617) 263-6800 or via our online form.