Robert E. Murphy of Ashland, a 59-year-old (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) gentleman is, or was, a Hopkinton school bus driver. He has now been arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and operating a motor vehicle to endanger. According to WBZ, this is his third OUI case, the last having taken place 25 years ago.
The Defendant’s arrest, together with his history, has touched off renewed interest into how many drunk driving cases a person can have before a license is suspended or lost.
According to the report, it is very difficult to have one’s driving priviledge suspended or terminated in Massachusetts. The article explains that “In general, just being charged with an OUI offense-no matter how many times-is not enough to have a license suspended or revoked.”
This verbal slight of hand, perhaps hopeful to shock the reader, states something that is absolutely true.
Similarly, someone who is charged with bank robbery is allowed to walk into and out of other banks…no matter how many times he is accused.
It is no big surprise to anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of the criminal justice system in this country.
Being accused is being accused. It is not being convicted. The driving privileges are in much different condition should a driver be convicted of OUI.
Regardless of how many years ago the past convictions are.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Penalties For OUI Defendants
The temporary loss of license can begin once the driver is arrested under certain circumstances.
For example, if the driver refuses to take a breathalyzer, the driver loses his license for six months. It is sort of a punishment for making the Commonwealth’s job of proving guilt a bit tougher.
Contrary to what you might be led to believe, OUI charges increase in severity the more times a conviction is obtained. The first and second OUI convictions are misdemeanors, and the license is suspended for one and two years, respectively. However, with a particular first time drunk driving charge, there is another package that is usually available.
That package, if the defendant fulfills the requirements, the case can resolve in a Continuance Without A Finding. Basically, the defendant admits that there are sufficient facts to find him guilty. While a CWOF does not count as a conviction, the registry counts it as a conviction and suspends the license. Further, if the defendant is arrested a second time, the CWOF will count as a prior conviction for OUI
Namely, the second case will be considered a second offense and sentenced as such.
The realistic possibility of incarceration begins upon the second offense.
It may be that a driver will qualify for a “hardship license”. In such a case, the driver shows that he needs to be able to drive to and from work. Should he convince the RMV, he will be allowed to drive to and from work or other necessary appointments such as school, medical and legal appointments.
Also, a defendant facing his second conviction for OUI, the driver’s car will likely be with an Ignition Interlock Device, which requires him to take a breath test before starting the car will start as well as at random intervals while driving.
The third time a person is convicted of an OUI, the offense becomes a felony, according to Chapter 90, Section 24 of Massachusetts State Law, and the license is suspended for up to eight years. It also carries a mandatory jail sentence of at least of 180 days. A fourth conviction for OUI may bring a permanent loss of license. However, when all circumstances are considered, it might simply be a longer suspension.
Of course, jail or state prison time is likely to accompany such convictions.
Laws for motor vehicle homicides also differ. We discussed a case I successfully tried earlier this year in which the defendant was found “not guilty” although there was no question that the vehicle he was operating struck and cause the decedent’s death. In that case, the driver was not alleged to be drunk.
However, if the driver in a vehicular homicide is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the potential penalties are heavier and a driver is looking at significant prison time.
The case of the Defendant at issue in this article was a school bus driver. Commercial license requirements are likely greater and, one would think, so are the penalties.
Again, should the last OUI conviction be many, many years ago, it does not matter. The previous conviction(s) count as aggravating factors and dictate the charge to be brought.
Of course, one might wonder why a gentlemen who has multiple OUI convictions in the past got the job as a school bus driver.
Have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!
For the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/10/20/how-many-drunken-driving-charges-does-take-lose-your-license-massachusetts/6s9pryK9ET6o4WyFViNDoI/story.html?p1=Topopage:Test_B:Main_headline