Penalties For Operating Under The Influence In Massachusetts

Massachusetts sets severe penalties for those convicted of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol. Depending on a driver's age and prior OUI record, the state may suspend the driver's license for a significant period of time, and the driver may face fines and jail time.

If pulled over under suspicion of OUI, drivers may be asked to consent to a breathalyzer or chemical breath test. In 2005, a state law significantly increased the penalties for declining a test, including a license suspension for at least 180 days. Younger drivers and drivers with prior OUI records are more severely penalized for declining a test. Drivers may request a Registry hearing to challenge the automatic penalty on the grounds that the police officer did not have reasonable grounds for the arrest, failed to place the driver under arrest, or the driver never refused the test.

Drivers will be arrested if a test registers a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. For drivers younger than 21, penalties apply at a BAC of 0.02 or higher.

Penalties for failing a breath test are as follows:

  • Age 21 or older and BAC 0.08 or higher: 30-day license suspension
  • Age 18 to 21 and BAC 0.02 or higher: 30-day license suspension, mandatory participation in Youth Alcohol Program and additional 180 day suspension
  • Under Age 18 and BAC 0.02 or higher: 30-day license suspension, mandatory participation in Youth Alcohol Program and additional one-year suspension

If convicted, the penalties for OUI can also include large fines, jail and long license suspensions. Penalties for first, second and additional offenses are as follows:

  • First Offense: Up to $5,000 fine, up to 2.5 years in jail, one-year license suspension
  • Second Offense: Up to $10,000 fine, up to 2.5 years in jail, two-year license suspension
  • Additional Offense: felony conviction, steadily increasing penalties, jail time and license suspension?

By completing mandatory education programs, drivers may be able to lift a license suspension and restore full driving privileges. Drivers required to install an Ignition Interlock Device in their vehicles to keep reinstated or hardship licenses should take care to obey the court's instructions for use of the device.

Massachusetts law outlines severe penalties for those convicted of drinking and driving. Drivers involved in OUI cases or accidents should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss their legal rights.