This page is designed to be a brief summary of the statutory penalties for a conviction or plea in an OUI case. There is a wide and varied realm of possibilities. In addition to criminal penalties, there are a wide range of driver's license suspensions that come into play. Changes like the lifetime lookback for prior offenses, the .08 Per Se violation and Melanie's Law have all made drastic changes to the Massachusetts OUI law, the consequences of this offense and the proceedings both in court and at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. This is designed to give you a brief, thumbnail sketch of the basic penalties involved. It will be necessary to consult with your lawyer as to the actual and specific full range of penalties that you may be exposed to for a conviction or plea to the charge of OUI. Massachusetts General Law Chap. 90, Sec. 24 regulates the charge of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol. A disposition in an OUI case can occur as a result of a conviction after a trial, a guilty plea or an admission to sufficient facts. Like all other charges in Massachusetts, your OUI charge will be a part of your permanent Board of Probation record. Even after the case is ultimately terminated or dismissed, this charge and disposition are still reflected on your record.
Effective November 29, 2002, the 10 year lookback period for subsequent OUI offenses charged under M.G.L C 90, s.24, has been revised to a lifetime lookback period. This means that if you have an OUI conviction or Continuance Without A Finding (CWOF) anywhere in your lifetime history, a new OUI charged will be enhanced to the appropriate number subsequent offense. Previously, any conviction more than 10 years old would have no effect on subsequent offense charges or mandatory sentencing. If you have any prior OUI convictions in your lifetime, you should consult with an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer to see if they can be vacated.
Effective 7/1/03, a defendant's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher can be considered as "per se" evidence of intoxication. The government can now prove OUI by proving beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) the operator's right to operate was impaired by the alcohol they consumed, and/or; (2) the defendant's BAC was .08 or higher and therefore he was intoxicated, by law. Prior to 7/1/03, the government had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the operator's ability to operate a motor vehicle safely was impaired by the alcohol they consumed. The law stated that a judge or jury could consider a defendant's BAC in determining whether the operator was under the influence of alcohol and their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely was impaired. This was considered a rebuttable presumption.
Massachusetts General Law Chap. 90, Sec. 24 provides a detailed and intricate range of penalties for operators under 21 years old charged with and/or convicted for OUI. The most significant difference between the under 21 penalties and the adult penalties is the increase in license suspension for under 21 operators. Operators under the age of 21 years old face license suspension from a minimum of 180 days to a maximum of 390 days. It is necessary to speak with an experienced and qualified criminal defense lawyer to fully understand the under 21 years old penalties available for your case.
Massachusetts General Law Chap. 90, Sec. 24, effective November 29, 2002, established a lifetime lookback period for determining subsequent offenses. The lifetime period encompasses the date of the conviction or finding of the prior OUI offense to the date of arrest of the subsequent OUI offense. If an operator only has 1 prior conviction in his history and that conviction occurred more than 10 years prior to the date of the new offense, the operator can receive a first offense disposition. It is unclear at this time, as detailed above, whether the license suspension will be for the 45 days allowed for a first offense or for the 2 years required for a second offense. Outside of a first offense committed by an operator with no prior criminal record, it is still within the deciding judge's discretion to impose penalties beyond the mandatory minimums. In any criminal case a judge will review a defendant's entire criminal history record in sentencing.
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