If you’ve been arrested, I know you want to know exactly what you are up against. The following summary is helpful, but honestly, only gives you a small part of the picture. You still won’t know how likely you are to be convicted, what the realistic range of penalties is if you are convicted, given the specific facts of your exact situation, and so on.
Give me a call to discuss your case and I’ll give you a personal assessment based on your exact circumstances.
Listed here are the penalties you can face according to Massachusetts drunk driving laws. Aside from the penalties the courts impose for an admission to sufficient facts plea, conviction, or guilty plea; a drunk driving case creates other problems in one’s life. It can be much more difficult to get a job, and can affect your ability to obtain or keep various professional licenses. Also, five points are added to insurance, as well as a loss of good driver credit for the year.
Skip down to Massachusetts Drunk Driving Penalties
Massachusetts DUI Laws & Penalties
Maximum First Offense Penalties – DUI Charge
- A jail term of not more than 2 1/2 years House of Correction
- Fines from $500-$5,000
- Your license suspended for 1 year.
Alternative Disposition, 1st Offense OUI
- Mandatory participation in alcohol-drug education program paid for by defendant. 16 Week Program.
- 1 Year Probation
- License suspended for 45 to 90 days, or 210 days for drivers under age 21.
- Hardship license available.
In most cases, we can work out a deal for a CWOF (Continuance without a Finding) and the above penalties. If there is no accident, other criminal charges, or complications, we can often do this very quickly, and get you back on the road with a hardship license as soon as possible.
Maximum Second Offense Penalties in Massachusetts
- A Jail term of not less than 60 days (30 day mandatory), not more then 2 1/2 years
- Fines from $600-$10,000
- Your license suspended for 2 years – work & education hardship considered in 12 months; general hardship in 18 months.
Alternative Disposition, 2nd Offense OUI
- 2 Years Probation
- 14 day confined in-patient alcohol treatment program – Paid for by the defendant.
- (as of 1/1/06) An interlock device is installed in your car for 2 years. Paid for by the defendant.
- License suspended for two years.
- Work & education hardship considered in 12 months (no hardship license for 3 additional years if you refused the breath test); general hardship in 18 months.
Note: If your prior offense is more than 10 years old, we may be able to work out a first offense Alternative Disposition penalty on a 2nd Offense. (Known as a Section 24D Disposition)
Visit my Second Offense DUI Defense page for more details.
Third Offense Penalties
- Jail: Not less than 180 days (150 day mandatory), not more than 5 years State Prison (felony status)
- May be served in a prison treatment program, if available
- Fines of $1,000-$15,000
- The state will seize and sell your vehicle.
- License suspended for 8 years, work/education hardship considered in 2 years (no hardship license for 5 additional years if you refused the breath test); general hardship in 4 years
The 150-day jail sentence for a third offense is mandatory under the statute. No Alternative Disposition for 3rd offense OUI conviction.
For more info, go to my Third Offense DUI Defense page.
Fourth Offense Penalties
- Jail: Not less than 2 years (1 year minimum mandatory), not more than 5 years (felony status)
- Fine $1,500-$25,000
- License suspended for 10 years, work/education hardship considered in 5 years; general hardship in 8 years
Mandatory 1-year jail term if convicted of a fourth offense OUI.
For additional info, go to my Fourth Offense DUI Defense page.
Fifth Offense Penalty
- Jail: Not less than 2 1/2 years (24 month minimum mandatory), not more than 5 years (felony status)
- Fine $2,000-$50,000
- License suspended for life, no possibility of hardship
Mandatory 2-year jail term if convicted of a fifth offense OUI.
For additional 5th offense info, go to my Fifth Offense DUI Defense page.
Penalty Changes & Enhancements as of 10/28/05 (Melanie’s Law)
- If you live outside of Massachusetts, you may take an eligible treatment program in your state as part of your penalty.
- If you are convicted of an OUI or related offenses while having a license suspended or revoked for OUI-related reasons (OUI, vehicular homicide, OUI with serious injury, OUI or homicide in a boat, or vehicular manslaughter) Penalty for conviction – mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year in jail, to be served consecutively to any other sentence.
- Your vehicle may be forfeited for a 4th (fourth) offense OUI or subsequent offense.
- Child Endangerment by Operating Under the Influence – If you are convicted of an OUI while a child under 14 is in the car, there is an additional penalty of a license loss of 1 year (consecutive with any other license loss period). Mandatory 6 months in jail for a 2nd offense, and a 3-year license loss (consecutive)
- Knowingly hiring an unlicensed person to operate a motor vehicle – Penalty for conviction, license suspension for 1 year
- Knowingly providing a motor vehicle to an unlicensed person – Penalty for conviction, license suspension for 1-year Lifetime license revocation for vehicular homicide involving OUI, felony vehicular homicide after a prior OUI offense, or OUI with serious injury, or vehicular manslaughter.
- Increase mandatory minimum sentence for manslaughter by motor vehicle to 5 years in jail.
- First Offense Vehicular Homicide license suspension increases from 10 to 15 years.
Other Changes in Massachusetts Drunk Driving laws:
4/19/07: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled in Commonwealth v. Colturi that breath test results are admissible without the prosecution having to provide expert testimony to establish a timeline for evidence of impairment. This is not good news, but it is essentially a return to the status quo before the case was challenged.
1/1/06: The Ignition Interlock Requirement from Melanie’s Law is in effect. Anyone who has 2 or more OUI convictions and goes to the Registry to have his or her license reinstated must have an ignition interlock device installed in their car for 2 years. This device requires you to blow into it and register a BAC of under .02 for the vehicle to start.
Note: This law, as interpreted by the Massachusetts RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicles) applies to anyone getting a reinstatement after 2 or more OUIs, regardless of how long ago the original charges happened.
10/29/05: Melanie’s Law is passed. There are some new laws and tougher penalties for multiple offenders. I’ve updated the penalties listed above.
6/24/04: Massachusetts SJC Ruling on 24D Disposition license suspension penalties.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that OUI 2nd Offenders treated under the 24D Disposition rules (this applies in cases of a 2nd offense OUI where the first offense was 10 years or more prior) should only be penalized with a license loss the same as those with a first offense instead of a 2 year license loss. This resolved a previous ambiguity in the law, and I believe it was the correct decision.
6/30/03: The penalties in Massachusetts changed for both taking and failing, or refusing the breathalyzer test.
- For a first offense OUI charge, if you take the test and fail, the license suspension period has decreased from 90 to 30 days.
- If you instead refuse the test, the suspension is now increased to 180 days from 120, also only for a first offense.
- For those under 21, or those with a prior OUI conviction, the penalties for refusal of the breath test have also both increased from 180 days to 1 year.
You are still in a much better position to protect your license and freedom if you refuse a breath test, and your are also more likely to be eligible to receive a hardship license with the help of an experienced attorney. In addition, it is also now possible to receive a hardship license after a second offense. A hardship license is valid for 12 hours a day to be used only for traveling to and from work. These changes were enacted as part of the Massachusetts “per se” law. The per se law says that if it can be proven that you blew a .08 or higher on a breath test machine and that the results were valid, that is essentially enough proof that your driving was impaired.
Massachusetts law now allows for a “lifetime lookback”, meaning the court may consider prior OUI convictions or even a Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF) when assessing a penalty at sentencing. This means that a conviction on a Massachusetts drunk driving charge you received in the 70’s or 80’s (or earlier) which you (and the court at the time) may not have taken quite as seriously can come back to haunt you at sentencing. A conviction on a current charge in such a case may be counted as a second (2nd) or third (3rd) offense, whereas previously you would have only been facing a 1st offense. It is critical that you consult an experienced Massachusetts drunk driving attorney in these cases. In a second offense circumstance where the first offense is more than 10 years old, it is possible to get a 24D disposition which can reduce some of the penalties and license loss. For more info on if you qualify for under 24D, call me at (781) 380-7730.
For more information on drunk driving laws & penalties, how they may apply to your case and how you can fight and beat the charges, call Russell Matson’s cell phone 24 hours at (781) 380-7730. I always offer a free initial consultation with no obligation. Call now.
Related pages: Reasons to fight your DUI charge.
Disclaimer: This site is for informational purposes only, and accuracy of all facts is not guaranteed. Reading this site is no substitute for legal advice. Consult a qualified attorney for help with any criminal matter. By reading this site, no client/attorney relationship is established.