Drunk driving is a serious offense in Massachusetts and nationwide that can have serious consequences to one's livelihood and future. Massachusetts has some of the strictest drunk driving laws, and punishments include loss of one's license to operate a motor vehicle, long and strict periods of probation and even incarceration. Penalties grow more serious very quickly for second offenses and continue to grow for additional OUI convictions. The good news is that these cases can often be defended and won.
Massachusetts also allows first offenders some leniency. Here is an overview of possible punishments for drunk driving in Massachusetts.What is the Punishment for Drinking and Driving/OUI/DUI/DWI in Massachusetts?
Operating under the influence (OUI) is more commonly known as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). Our firm handles all types of these cases in Massachusetts, including those involving:
- First-offense DUI: Even first offense OUI/DUI arrests can have serious penalties and consequences. This includes the loss of your driver’s license for 45 to 90 days, up to 2.5 years imprisonment, $500 to $5,000 in fines, fees and a criminal record. You will also be required to participate in a weekly alcohol awareness program. An experienced lawyer can advise you on the most lenient first-offender possibilities and can advocate for that disposition in court, if that is the best possible outcome.
- Second-offense DUI: Things get even more serious with a second offense DUI. There is a mandatory minimum 30-day jail sentence. There may be eligibility for a mandatory, but more lenient sentence to a 14-day inpatient treatment center. The maximum sentence is 2.5 years in prison. You could also owe $600 to $10,000 in fines and lose your license. If your first offense is more than ten years old, or from another state, a knowledgable attorney may be able to advocate an even more lenient resolution for you.
- Third-offense and greater DUI and Felony DUI: Lengthy, mandatory jail sentences are the most serious consequence of a third offense DUI and the sentences get longer for each subsequent offense. The third offense will result in a minimum 150-day jail sentence. A fourth conviction is a felony charge, which includes a minimum one-year state prison sentence.
- Operating with a license suspended for a DUI conviction: There is a mandatory sixty-day jail sentence If your license was suspended after a DUI and you are arrested for driving with a suspended license. You will also face $500 in fines and additional suspensions of your driver’s license.
- DUI drugs: Our General Laws provide for similar punishments for DUI whether under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of drugs. However, DUI drugs charges create an opportunity for a different kind of defense in court because the prosecution must prove both the presence of drugs in your system and that those drugs have affected your ability to drive a car safely. Our Boston attorney’s office has successfully defended numerous DUI drugs cases.
- Motor vehicle homicide: Driving under the influence that results in a death is a very serious crime and very tragic situation for everybody involved. A first offense carries a mandatory one-year jail sentence. If you are found to have been negligent in addition to driving under the influence, you face a mandatory state prison sentence
- DUI by drivers under 21: A younger driver faces more serious consequences for drinking and driving. An underage driver need only have .02 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) to lose his or her license for 210 days on a first offense. If the underage driver has a BAC of .08 or greater, he or she can be convicted of drunk driving in Massachusetts and face the same penalties as a driver over the age of 21. Drivers under 21 face far lengthier suspensions for breath test refusals (3 years) and breath test failures (210 days, which can be reduced to 30 days if you enroll in a driver’s education program). These suspensions are separate from and in addition to your license suspension if you are later found guilty of DUI.
Call Serpa Law Office’s Boston office for a free consultation to discuss all of your options.