Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

225 W. Squantum St., Suite 100, Quincy, MA 02171

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617.300.0212

Massachusetts Drunk Driving Law

OFFENSE ELEMENTS

  • Operation of MV
  • On Public Way
  • With a Blood Alcohol of .08 or greater, or
  • Operating while under influence of alcohol. i.e., the ability to operate safely is diminished by the consumption of alcohol
  • All operators are deemed to have consented to a breath test administered by a police officer by virtue of driving
  • Applies if you are arrested for OUI
  • Refusals to take the breath test will result in license loss of anywhere from 180 days to life
  • The duration of license loss for BT refusal depends on prior convictions and age of offender

Breath Test Refusal Penalties

  • First Offender 180 days
  • Second Offender or Under 21 3 yrs + 180 days (waived if in 24P program)
  • Third Offender 5 years
  • Fourth Offender 10 Years
  • Fifth Offender Life
  • Prior offense includes prior OUI, OUI and serious injury and MV homicide
  • No hardship license from suspensions imposed for Breath Test refusals, except in the case of a first offender who is enrolled in the OUI program.
  • License may be restored after an acquittal

Breath Test Failure Consequences

  • Immediate loss of license to police officer for 30 days or until case is disposed of by plea or trial, whichever comes first
  • Automobile is impounded for 12 hours
  • Breath Test result of .08 or above is admissible in prosecution provided test is administered in accordance with law.
  • Represents a “per se” violation of statute

Penalties for Conviction

First Offense Over Age 21

  • Statutory penalty:
    • Fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000, or
    • Imprisonment in jail for not more than 2 ½ years in House of Correction, or
    • Both a fine and imprisonment
    • License loss 1 year
  • Alternate Disposition for First Offenders under G.L. c. 90, §24D
    • Two years probation, entry into approved OUI program, pay program costs and assessments, probation supervision fees
    • License loss of 45-90 days
    • Hardship license available after enrollment in program on limited basis
    • Fines and community service may be assessed.

Penalties for First Conviction

Under Age 21

  • A person under age 21 loses their license for 210 days for first offense conviction for OUI even if they enter G.L. c. 90, § 24D program, but is eligible for 12 hour hardship license upon enrollment in program.
  • An additional license loss of 180 days is imposed under G.L. c. 90, § 24P – this may be avoided by attendance at special underage drinking program
  • If the Breath Test result for a person between the age of 17 and 21 inclusive, is not less than .20, the first offender program is not available and the individual must attend a rehabilitation program known as the“14 day second offender in-home program.”

Second Offense

  • Fine of not less than $600 nor more than $10,000, AND
  • Imprisonment for not less than 60 days nor more than 2 ½ years
  • Minimum Mandatory Sentence of 30 days
  • License loss of two years
  • Assessments and fees applicable
  • Alternate Second Offender Disposition Available
    • Mandatory in-patient treatment at a residential alcohol treatment facility for 14 days, with aftercare
    • Two years probation
    • Two year license loss
    • Hardship license available after six months with ignition lock
    • Program costs and assessments applicable
  • Prior Convictions more than 10 years old may render a person eligible for first offender program once in a lifetime.
  • Persons eligible for any of the programs are presumed to be an appropriate candidate for the program.
  • A judge may deny admission of an otherwise eligible defendant to a program, but must make specific written findings that a defendant is not a suitable candidate.
  • Defendant not eligible for first offender program if serious bodily injury or death was caused in the events that gave rise to the conviction for OUI.
  • Persons who are domiciled out of state may be allowed to attend out of state programs
  • Defendants pay the costs associated with the programs
  • Probation fee of $250 in addition to program fees
  • Court may impose a minimum of 30 hours of community service
  • G.L. c. 90, § 24Q
  • Mandatory Alcohol Assessment by Department of Public Health or court approved program
  • All repeat offenders
  • Any offender with BAC of .20 or above
  • Must include assessment of the level of addiction to alcohol or drugs and recommended course of treatment.
  • Additional fee will be charged for the assessment

Penalties for Conviction

Third Offense

  • Fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $15,000, AND
  • Imprisonment for not less than 180 days, nor more than 2 ½ years in House of Correction or,
  • Imprisonment of 2 ½ – 5 years in State Prison
  • Minimum Mandatory Sentence of 150 days
  • License loss of 8 years
  • Hardship Available after 2 years with ignition lock

Fourth Offense

  • Fine of not less than $1,500 nor more than $25,000, AND
  • Imprisonment for not less than 2 – 2 ½ years in the House of Correction or not less than 2 ½ – 5 years in State Prison
  • Minimum Mandatory Sentence of 12 months
  • License Loss of 10 years
  • Hardship available after 5 years with ignition lock

Fifth Offense or More

  • Fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $50,000, AND
  • Imprisonment of 2 ½ years to the House of Correction, or
  • Imprisonment of not less than 2 ½ nor more than 5 years in State Prison
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentence of 24 months
  • License Loss – Lifetime
  • No hardship available

Special Penalty Provisions

  • Any person under the age of 21, who takes a breath test with a result of .02 or greater, and who is not charged with OUI, shall have his license suspended for 180 days immediately under G.L. c. 90, § 24 P.
  • Lifetime revocation for persons who are convicted of OUI, MV Homicide and who have a prior OUI, OUI Homicide or OUI serious injury. G.L. c. 90, § 24R

Hardship Licenses

  • No hardship license from suspensions imposed for Breath Test refusals, except in the case of a first offender who is enrolled in the OUI program.
  • Hardship licenses are issued in the discretion of the registrar on such terms and conditions as are deemed appropriate and upon a showing the causes of the past and present violations have been dealt with or brought under control.
  • First offenders: 12 hour hardship license is available upon entry into program.
  • Second offenders: 12 hour hardship license for education or employment reasons after 12 months, provided person has completed in-patient program. After 18 months may request for a new license. Vehicle must have ignition lock to obtain hardship license
  • Third Offense: 12 hour hardship license for education and employment purposes after two years and a new license on a limited basis after 4 years. Vehicle must have ignition lock to obtain hardship license.
  • Fourth Offense: 12 hour hardship license for education and employment purposes after five years and a new license in a limited basis after 8 years. Vehicle must have ignition lock to obtain hardship license.
  • Fifth offense or more – No hardship license
  • Certified or attested copies of original court papers ACCOMPANIED BY 90:24(4)
  • Certified or attested copies of defendant’s biographical and informational data from records of the department of probation
  • Certified copies of any jail or house of corrections, the department of correction, or the registry shall be prima facie evidence that a defendant before the court had been previously convicted.
  • The documents are self-authenticating and admissible, after conviction of primary offense. No live witnesses or other corroborating testimony is necessary.
  • New Crime: G.L. c. 265, § 13 ½
  • Imprisonment for not less than 5 nor more than 20 years, and
  • A fine of not more than $25,000
  • Minimum Mandatory Sentence of 5 years
  • Manslaughter not defined in this statute
  • License loss of 15 years minimum, but may be up to a lifetime suspension
  • G.L. c. 90, § 24 ½
  • The device prevents the vehicle from operating if the BAC is above .02.
  • Device must be installed on each vehicle owned, leased or operated by a person previously convicted of OUI or similar offenses as a condition of the issuance of a new license
  • The device is to be installed for a period of two years (presumably from the date the new license is issued).
  • Device must be maintained and inspected in accordance with regulations yet to be enacted
  • The device will not permit operation of vehicle if BAC is .02 or above
  • Registrar may revoke license for up to life for two or more occasions of a failure to maintain or two or more instances of attempted use with .02 or above.
  • New Crimes
    • Operation MV in violation of interlock device restriction
      • Fine of $1000 to $15,000
      • Imprisonment for not less than 180 days nor more than 2 ½ years, or
      • Not less than 2 ½ nor more than 5 years in State prison
      • Mandatory Minimum of 150 days.
    • Tampering with Ignition lock
      • Not less than 6 months nor more than 2 ½ years H/C or
      • Not less than 3 years nor more than 5 years in state prison
    • Starting a MV equipped with Ignition lock
      • Fine of not less than $1000 nor more than $5000 or
      • Imprisonment for not less than 6 months nor more than 2 ½ years,
      • Second Offense: State Prison 3-5 years

For assistance with this or any other legal problem contact Attorney Richard Sweeney at (617) 300-0212 or at RSweeney@Rsweeneylaw.com

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