In short, yes. In MA, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher is above the legal limit. However, there are certain circumstances under which you can be charged with OUI with a lesser BAC. Some of these scenarios are listed below.
Zero Tolerance Laws
In Massachusetts – and across the nation – “zero tolerance” laws prohibit underage drivers from having any alcohol in their system. For this reason, even negligible traces of alcohol can result in a OUI conviction if you are under the age of 21. Zero tolerance laws may also come into play when of-age adults are driving drunk with children in the vehicle.
Alcohol isn’t the only substance that can impair your ability to drive safely. Prescription, over the counter, and illicit drugs can be just as dangerous. If you washed down a prescription pain killer with a glass of wine, you may be visibly impaired even though your BAC is under 0.08.
The Passing of Time
If you are stopped on suspicion of OUI, a breath test may not be administered for several minutes or more. If, for example, 20 minutes pass before you submit to the breathalyzer, and the test registers a BAC of 0.07, it could be argued that your BAC had been 0.08 while driving and simply dropped due to the passage of time.
Commercial License (CDL)
If you have a CDL, your legal limit is significantly lower. A BAC of 0.04 percent or higher will result in a OUI charge, even if you weren’t driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense. If, however, you were in a commercial vehicle, you will likely face an additional one-year CDL suspension. Further, if you receive a second OUI conviction, your MA CDL will be permanently revoked.
Penalties for OUI Conviction in MA
Keep in mind that MA is tough on OUI charges; juries are rarely sympathetic to those charged with this particular offense. Having a skilled Boston OUI defense attorney is crucial to a favorable outcome. If you are convicted of OUI, you may face the following penalties:
- First offense: 30 days to a max of 30 months in jail, fines of up to $5,000, and license suspension of up to one year.
- Second offense: 30 days to a max of 30 months in jail, fines of up to $10,000, license suspension of up to two years, installation of ignition interlock device (IID).
- Third offense: 150 days to up to five years in jail, fines of up to $15,000, license suspension of up to eight years, installation of IID.
- Fourth offense: One year to up to five years in jail, fines of up to $25,000, license suspension of up to 10 years, installation of IID.
- Fifth offense: Two years to up to five years in jail, fines of up to $50,000, permanent license revocation.