Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Many states are now requiring the installation of interlock ignition devices (IIDs) for those convicted of OUI offenses (even first-time offenders). Massachusetts is one of them. But it was a Pennsylvania mom, Angela Daywalt, who recently made national headlines after using her young daughter to bypass the device while she risked both of their lives. In MA, if you are charged with OUI, don’t make the mistake of hiring an inexperienced attorney. A skilled MA criminal defense attorney can position you for the most favorable outcome possible.

What is an Interlock Ignition Device?

An IID is a device that requires a driver to submit an alcohol-free breath sample prior to starting a vehicle. If your car is equipped with an IID, you must blow into the device to start the engine, as well as periodically throughout the drive. In the case of Ms. Daywalt, she was attempting to flee the scene of a drunk driving accident in which she had just been involved, but the intoxicated mom needed a fresh breath sample to re-start her vehicle. To solve her problem, Daywalt asked her eight year old daughter to blow into the device on her behalf.

In addition to drunk driving charges, Daywalt is also facing child endangerment charges and multiple traffic and summary violations. According to witnesses, the mom of the year was seen urging her child to blow into the IID. Although she made it home, police caught up with her shortly thereafter. A subsequent blood alcohol test revealed that she was, indeed, intoxicated. A Boston OUI offense attorney can be the difference between jail time and a full dismissal of your case. If you’ve been charged with OUI, it’s in your best interest to consult with skilled legal counsel immediately.

More Bad Moms

It may seem as though Ms. Daywalt took drunk driving to a new level, but she is not alone. The following mothers have also made some terrible choices that put themselves, and their children at risk.

  • A mom in New York is alleged to have beaten up her nanny when the nanny attempted to stop her from drunk driving with her toddler in the vehicle.
  • Shockingly, former Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) president Debra Oberlin was convicted of drunk driving in Florida.
  • Another PA mom was charged with vehicular homicide after she was involved in a drunk driving accident that resulted in the death of her 14 year old son.
  • An Arizona mom is alleged to have driven away with her infant son in his child safety seat…on the roof of the car. She was allegedly stoned at the time of the incident.

OUI Penalties in MA

If you find yourself in this situation, you may be wondering what potential penalties you are facing. Although other factors, including aggravating circumstances and past criminal history come into play, here are the possible penalties:

  • First offense: License suspension of up to 90 days, $500 to $5,000 fine, jail time of up to 2-and-a-half years.
  • Second offense: License suspension of up to two years, up to $10,000 fine, and jail time of up to 2-and-a-half years.
  • Third offense: License suspension of up to eight years, up to $15,000 fine, and prison time of up to five years.

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In Massachusetts, if you damage, destroy, or vandalize another’s property, you may receive a criminal citation or charge for malicious damage. This type of property damage can include keying a car, graffiti, or even breaking things while involved in a domestic argument. The charge you may be facing following this type of offense is largely dependent on your intentions when you caused the damage. Although a criminal citation may not seem like a serious consequence, keep in mind that it will still result in a criminal record. And a criminal record can negatively impact you for years, potentially affecting your ability to find a job or housing.

If you hire a skilled MA defense attorney to defend you against a malicious damage charge, your attorney may be able to get the charge dropped in exchange for paying for damages. This will help you to avoid a criminal record and will keep you out of jail. If, however, the charge is not dropped, you may still be eligible for pretrial probation or a pretrial hearing. Both of these options will also keep your record clean.

Penalties for Malicious Damage

Penalties vary based on several factors, including the unique circumstances of the charge and any prior criminal history. However, the guidelines below will give you a good idea of what penalties you may be facing if you are charged with malicious damage.

If you “willfully and maliciously” committed the act for which you are being charged, you could face:

  • Up to 10 years in prison.
  • Fines of up to $3,000 or up to three times the cost of the damage (whichever is greater).

If you “wantonly” committed the act for which you are being charged, you may face:

  • Up to two-and-a-half years in jail.
  • Fines of up to $1,500 or up to three times the cost of the damage (whichever is greater).

“Willful and malicious” means that you intended to cause damage, whereas “wanton” means the damage was caused because you acted carelessly. In either case, if you caused less than $250 in damage, you may still face up to two-and-a-half months in jail and up to three times the cost of the damage.

Protected Property Types

The guidelines above are fairly straightforward unless the property in question is of a certain, protected class. For example, damaging a church generally carriers stiffer penalties than damaging an abandoned building. The types of property below carry a more serious charge, due to their sacred or special nature. You may face a felony charge if you are convicted of destroying or vandalizing any of the following property types:

  • School or educational facility
  • Community center
  • Church
  • Mosque
  • Synagogue
  • House of worship
  • Cemetery
  • Memorial

If you are charged with defacing or destroying any of the above property types, it is essential that you contact a Boston defense attorney immediately. If the damage is valued at more than $5,000, you may find yourself in prison for up to five years. If it’s less than $5,000, you could still face jail time of up to two-and-a-half years and pay fines of up to three times the cost of the damage you caused. Furthermore, a felony charge on your record could haunt you for decades. Don’t make the mistake of hiring the wrong attorney if you are facing charges for malicious damage. Continue reading

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed new legislation in 2014 dramatically changing the way domestic violence is penalized in MA. The new law, An Act Relative to Domestic Violence, created two new crimes: domestic assault and domestic assault and battery. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you are facing any type of domestic abuse charges.

Before we discuss domestic assault and battery laws, let’s first discuss what is meant by assault and assault and battery. Battery is a physical act of harmful or offensive contact. Assault basically means “attempted battery”, therefore, you don’t even have to make physical contact with the victim to be charged with assault. For an assault and battery conviction to be likely, the following circumstances must have been present:

  • You touched the victim with no right or good excuse for doing so.
  • You intended to touch the victim.
  • The touching was harmful or offensive, and without the person’s consent.

With regard to the domestic assault and domestic assault and battery laws, the above mentioned elements must still be present. The difference from other assault cases, however, is that the victim must have been a family or household member. If the victim was your spouse, or a boyfriend or girlfriend, or if you have a child together, you will likely be charged with domestic assault or domestic assault and battery. If you are facing these charges, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Boston defense lawyer immediately.

Penalties for Domestic Assault and Domestic Assault and Battery

Here’s where the biggest differences come into play. The penalties for domestic assault and domestic assault and battery are more severe than for their non-domestic counterparts. Although the punishment is generally the same – up to two-and-a-half years in jail –  the fines are much higher. Assault and battery carries fines of up to $1,000, whereas domestic assault and battery fines can be as high as $5,000.

Additional Consequences

If you are convicted of assault and battery (even if it’s a first-time offense), you must complete a batterer’s intervention program. Further, if you are charged with domestic assault or domestic assault and battery, the legislation passed in 2014 now requires you to wait at least six hours before posting bail. This is for the added protection of your spouse or family member. And if this isn’t your first conviction, things can get even worse. Second convictions carry an aggravated penalty, which can land you in a state prison for up to five years. Aggravated assault and battery is a felony offense. You can also be convicted of an aggravated offense under the following circumstances:

  • If the victim is seriously injured, over age 65, or pregnant.
  • If the victim had filed a no contact order against the defendant.
  • If a dangerous weapon is involved (carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison).

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In December, 2016, Massachusetts joined the growing list of states who have passed the  legalization of recreational marijuana. As in the other states, recreational use is still illegal at the federal level, but the Department of Justice has been fairly hands-off, up until now. The Trump administration may increase federal enforcement of these laws, creating an uncertain future for recreational marijuana use in MA. If after reading this post you are still unsure about how these potential changes may impact you, consult with a Boston criminal defense attorney.

In a recent White House press conference, spokesperson Sean Spicer said the new administration is likely to play a bigger role in the enforcement of federal marijuana regulations. “I do believe you’ll see greater enforcement of it,” said Spicer. “Because again there’s a big difference between the medical use … that’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into.” He then went on to link marijuana use to opioid addiction:

“I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people, there’s still a federal law that we need to abide by in terms of … when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature.”

Federal Law Trumps State Law

These statements from the White House, along with the appointment of the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions (an outspoken opponent of legalization) may indicate less leniency for recreational pot smokers in the coming months. When federal and state laws are in conflict, federal law takes the cake. As a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, marijuana possession and sales are still illegal at the federal level. A MA drug defense lawyer can help you determine if you’re at risk of criminal penalties.

Of course, cracking down on recreational pot use in states that have legalized it would be highly unpopular. Quinnipiac University recently conducted a survey and found that more than 70 percent of Americans do not agree with federal enforcement in states that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana. This may bode well for the future of federal enforcement, but only time will tell. Spicer failed to provide details about what an enforcement would actually look like. More optimistic folks hope that it will focus on illegal exportation to other states. “The biggest crackdown we may see is on the increase of cannabis being illegally exported out of recreational states,” said Nate Bradley, of the California Cannabis Industry Association. Let’s hope he’s right. Continue reading

If you commit a crime in Massachusetts, you may find yourself in court, paying hefty fines, and possibly even doing time in jail or a state prison. Maybe you’re a first-time offender and your crime was an honest mistake. Maybe you have an extensive criminal record. Whatever the circumstances of your individual case, the help of a Boston criminal defense lawyer can help you determine your rights and options.

The statistics on MA crimes change from year to year, but the following criminal offenses tend to remain at the top of the list each year:

  • Assault and battery
  • Drug possession
  • OUI (multiple offenses)
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Firearms and weapons charges

Penalties for the Most Common MA Crimes

If you are charged with any of these crimes, you may face the following penalties:

  • Assault and battery: If you are convicted of assault and battery against another person, you could pay up to $1,000 in fines and serve a jail sentence of up to two-and-a-half years. If, however, the crime was committed against a child, you could face up to fifteen years in a state prison if the child was seriously harmed. Fines in cases involving children, government officials, and pregnant women may also be substantially higher.
  • Drug possession: Penalties for drug possession, as with other offenses, are largely dependent on criminal history. They are also based on the type of drug in your possession. A class A drug such as heroin, for example, carries penalties of up to $2,000 in fines and up to two years in jail. A second offense, however, may put you in a state prison for up to five years. Charges for Class B possession, including cocaine and LSD, are a bit less severe, with up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in jail.
  • OUI: First time OUI offenders may face a license suspension of up to 90 days, fines, and jail time. Penalties for second and subsequent offenses increase dramatically. A third offense becomes a felony and comes with up to $15,000 in fines and an eight year license suspension. You may also do up to five years in a state prison for a third OUI conviction. A Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer can help you determine the best legal strategy if you are facing OUI charges.
  • Vehicular homicide: A person may be convicted of misdemeanor vehicular homicide if he or she caused a fatal motor vehicle accident while committing a misdemeanor offense (such as speeding). The penalty for misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide is up to two-and-a-half years in jail and fines of up to $3,000. If the defendant was engaged in reckless behavior (such as speeding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol), the resulting death may lead to a felony conviction. This could land you in a state prison for up to 15 years.
  • Firearms and weapons charges: Possession of an unlicensed firearm could result in a prison sentence of up to five years. Although a sentence for a first-time offender isn’t likely to be that severe, gun crimes carry a mandatory minimum sentence of eighteen months. As with other crimes, prior convictions play a significant role in the penalties you face if convicted of this crime.

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On February 21, Governor Charlie Baker filed a bill as part of an effort to reform the criminal justice system in Massachusetts. “Over half of the people leaving our Houses of Correction and state prisons wind up back in the court system at some point after their release,” Baker said. If passed, the bill will allow some inmates convicted of nonviolent drug crimes to reduce their time behind bars upon successful completion of various programs.

Gov. Baker’s bill is part of a larger initiative to reform the state’s criminal justice system. Other changes being discussed include eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes and expunging criminal records for juveniles. Lawmakers are also considering increasing the age of “juveniles” from 18 to 21. The proposed bill would raise the age one year at a time over a three year period.

Will Mandatory Minimum Sentences Be Eliminated?

Should individuals convicted of nonviolent drug crimes face the same mandatory minimums as violent offenders? Some MA lawmakers have been saying no for years. “Judges ought to have the ability to look at all the facts when they do sentencing,” said Senator Cynthia Creem, D-Newton. Consulting a MA criminal defense attorney can help you determine how this new bill may impact your case.

Improved Diversion Program Opportunities for Adult Offenders

In MA, a juvenile charged with a drug crime will likely be fast-tracked into substance abuse or mental health programs, instead of to jail. However, this isn’t the case for adults. A proposed bill would permit certain young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 to have the same opportunity. The goal here is to allow young people who may have just made a mistake to move on with their lives without a criminal record. Repeat offenders wouldn’t be eligible for such a program. If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, a Boston defense attorney can help you determine if you qualify for a diversion program.

Should a Juvenile’s Criminal Record Be Expunged?

As it stands, a juvenile’s criminal record is sealed after a three year period. However, certain individuals and entities (including college admissions officers and landlords) may still be able to access this information. A bill proposed by Senator Karen Spilka, D-Ashland would allow an individual with a felony offense committed prior to age 21 to have their record expunged upon successful completion of their sentence. “Over the years, we’ve heard story after story of young adults being prevented from getting jobs or housing or scholarships from college because of a prior criminal record that happened when they were a juvenile,” said Spilka. “Kids deserve a second chance.”


Too many people spend time behind bars for minor offenses because they don’t have the funds to cover bail. A bill proposed by Senator Ken Donnelly, D-Arlington, would change the bail system from cash-based to risk-based. Essentially, bail would be set based on the the defendant’s risk of committing another crime or not showing up in court. If those risks are low, the bail may be as well. “We need to make sure people who deserve to be in (jail) are in, people who don’t deserve to be in are not in,” said Donnelly. “It shouldn’t be how much money you have.” Continue reading

In Massachusetts, if you fatally injure another person while recklessly or negligently operating a motor vehicle, you may be charged with vehicular homicide. The severity of the charges you’re facing will be largely dependent on the unique circumstances of your case. For example, if you were committing a minor, misdemeanor offense when the accident occurred – such as speeding – you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor offense. If you were intoxicated at the time, however, the charge may be elevated to a felony offense. A skilled MA criminal defense attorney can help you determine the next steps if you are facing these serious charges.

Misdemeanor Vehicular Homicide

Although serious, penalties for this charge are dramatically different from that of a felony offense. If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, you may face the following penalties and fines:

  • Mandatory 30 days in jail
  • Up to two-and-a-half years in jail
  • Up to $3,000 in fines
  • Up to a 15 year license loss

Vehicular Homicide Involving Drugs or Alcohol

If you kill someone while driving drunk, you don’t need to have been driving recklessly to get convicted of vehicular homicide. However, fatal accidents caused by a drunk or drugged driver typically involve some level of reckless driving. If you were intoxicated and driving recklessly when the fatal accident occurred, you will likely be charged with a felony offense. The penalties for this type of crime include:

  • Mandatory one year in jail
  • Up to 15 years in a state prison
  • Up to $5,000 in fines
  • Minimum license suspension of 15 years

To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove that you were above the legal limit at the time of the accident. If they cannot do that, beyond a reasonable doubt, a felony charge is not likely. This is where having a skilled MA OUI attorney can make all the difference in the world.

Vehicular Manslaughter

If you kill someone while driving drunk or drugged, you may also be charged with vehicular manslaughter, which is essentially the same as vehicular homicide involving drugs or alcohol, but the prison penalties are more severe. If convicted of vehicular manslaughter, you will face a mandatory five year prison sentence, and you could be behind bars for up to 20 years. Fines are also increased, at a max of up to $25,000.

As you can see, vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges are quite serious. Whether you’re in jail for 30 days or in prison for 20 years may rest largely in the skill and experience of your legal counsel. Don’t make the mistake of hiring the wrong attorney when it comes to vehicular homicide. Remember, an intent to kill is not necessary for a successful conviction. The prosecution only has to prove that your reckless or negligent driving resulted in the death of another. Continue reading

Following a shooting that occurred at the South Shore Plaza earlier this month, town officials are meeting to discuss how to improve security at the mall. The meeting between South Shore’s General Manager Rick Tonzi, the town’s mayor Joseph Sullivan, and Chief of Police Paul Shastany is not the first of its kind to discuss the incident. On Wednesday, Tonzi refused to attend a meeting of the town council’s public safety committee, emailing the following statement about the policies of the mall’s owner, Simon Property Group: “Simon does not publicly comment on what we do and don’t do on security at South Shore Plaza.”

Tonzi’s failure to attend the town council meeting was met with displeasure by Town Councillor, Charles Kokoros. “I think it’s a little disrespectful to the council and the committee,” he said. The shooting, which occurred in the shoe department of the Macy’s store, is believed to be linked to Boston gang rivalries. According to investigators, previously “neutral” territories have become fair game in these gang wars.”It’s a serious incident and we’re treating it very seriously,” said Sullivan.

A statement from mall management claims that management has a good relationship with the mayor’s office and Braintree police and that it practices joint training exercises with law enforcement “to ensure that all organizations are adequately prepared in emergency response procedures.”

Town Councillors and attorneys for the mall believe that the shooting was an isolated incident that happened in the mall, but not because of the mall. Even so, it’s a grave reminder that previously “safe spaces” can become dangerous if gang activity is not kept in check. “Wherever they encounter, that’s the venue for violence,” said Shastany.

What is the Solution?

Dealing with the underlying issue of gang violence is paramount to improving safety in Boston and the surrounding areas. But this is not a problem that can be eliminated overnight. In the meantime, South Shore Plaza and similar shopping centers can take safety precautions to protect customers and the general public. Kokoros would like to see increased law enforcement presence and security cameras at South Shore Plaza, for instance. Currently, there are three police officers on duty at the mall.

And the argument for more cameras may be a good one. According to Shastany, pictures from the existing security cameras were instrumental in identifying shooting suspect Michael J. Spence. The 24-year-old Quincy man is facing firearms charges for his role in the shooting.

The Rise in Gang Violence

Fortunately, no one was injured in the South Shore Plaza shooting, but gang violence is on the rise in Boston and the surrounding areas. Consider the violent street gang, MS-13, whose motto is “Mata, viola, controla” or kill, rape, control. MS-13 is based in El Salvador and has about 30,000 members worldwide, many in the Boston area. MS-13 targets young people, often as young as 14 or 15. To become a “homeboy” the young person is told to commit a serious crime, sometimes the murder of a rival gang member. If you are worried that a child or loved one has been swept up in this kind of violence and crime, it is in your best interest to contact a MA criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Due to their young ages, gang members may be able to avoid jail time and the more severe penalties reserved for adults. However, without the help of a skilled Boston criminal defense attorney, violent offenders may still be tried as adults. Continue reading

It’s common knowledge that getting behind the wheel when you’re intoxicated is a bad idea. But determining whether you’ve had too much to drink isn’t always as cut and dried. In Massachusetts, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent is above the legal limit. If a large man has three drinks with dinner, his BAC may be the same as that of a small woman who has one drink on an empty stomach. Without a breath or blood test, it’s impossible to know. Therefore, it’s always wise to err on the side of caution. If you’re going to drink, designate a sober driver. And if you think getting an OUI is no big deal, read on. The potential consequences of an OUI conviction may change your mind.

Consequence #1: Fines and Fees

Even for a first offense, you will likely find yourself paying fines and license reinstatement fees if you are convicted of an OUI. Fines range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the circumstances of your conviction, and you may have to pay a license reinstatement fee of up to $1,200. For a second offense, the fine can be as high as $10,000 and you may be out of pocket for up to $15,000 if convicted of a third offense.

Consequence #2: Jail Time

If this is your first offense, you probably won’t see time behind bars unless aggravating circumstances deem it necessary. But it’s a different story for second and subsequent offenses. For a second offense, you’re looking at between 30 days and two-and-a-half years in jail. For third and subsequent offenses, you could actually be sent to prison for up to five years.

Consequence #3: Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

Some first-time offenders get slapped with this requirement, but it’s mandatory for second and subsequent offenders. The installation of an IID requires the driver to blow into a device with alcohol-free breath before the engine of his or her car will start, and at periodic intervals while driving. In addition to being a hassle – and a bit embarrassing on a date – IIDs aren’t cheap. And guess who gets to pay for the installation? We all make mistakes. If you’ve been charged with an OUI, don’t make another one – consult with an experienced OUI defense attorney right away.

Consequence #4: License Suspension

From first-timers to serial-OUI offenders, everyone faces a license suspension. If it’s your first offense, you’re looking at up to 90 days without wheels. For second offenders, the suspension increases to two years, and it skyrockets to eight years for the third offense. Fourth offenders may have their license permanently revoked.

Having an OUI on your record is no laughing matter. This can impact future job and housing applications, as well as send your car insurance rates through the roof. In addition to the consequences above, you will likely be required to enroll in an alcohol education program at your expense. The bottom line is, OUI charges are serious. Your best line of defense if charged with an OUI is to consult with an experienced OUI defense attorney immediately. A skilled attorney can be the difference between dismissed charges and time behind bars. Don’t let a mistake ruin your life. Continue reading

In many ways, OUIs don’t discriminate. Rich or poor, young or old, male or female, white, black, Hispanic, or Asian, no group is immune to getting arrested for OUI. There is one group that accounts for more OUIs annually in the US than any other – young, white males. The facts and figures below shed some light on the “who, why, and where” of OUIs. If you’ve been charged with an OUI offense, don’t attempt to “go it alone.” An experienced OUI attorney can make all the difference in the world.

OUI Statistics

  • Nearly 30 people die in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in the US every day.
  • Alcohol-related crashes cost more than $59 billion annually.
  • In 2013, nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the US involved alcohol.
  • Over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for OUI in 2010.
  • One of out of every three drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) above 0.08 percent involved in fatal crashes is between the ages of 21 and 24.
  • About 18 percent of motor vehicle driver deaths involve drugs other than alcohol.
  • In 2011, 17 percent of fatal crashes during the week involved drunk drivers, versus 31 percent on the weekends.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 8.3 percent of weekend drivers assessed in a 2013/2014 study had alcohol in their systems.
  • Males are more likely to drive drunk than their female counterparts (15.1 percent vs. 7.9 percent).

Some Good News and Some Bad News About OUI Statistics

Drunk driving actually seems to be on the decline. In fact, according to the NHTSA, the incidence of over-the-limit drivers decreased by about 80 percent between 1973 and 2014. That’s a significant drop. However, as these numbers decrease, the statistics on drugged driving has skyrocketed. Studies conducted by the NHTSA show that more than 15 percent of drivers tested positive for one or more illegal drugs. OUI charges apply to drugged driving just like drunk driving. If you made a mistake and got behind the wheel after a few too many drinks or after using recreational drugs, you may be facing OUI charges. The best line of defense is the help of a skilled Boston OUI defense attorney. Don’t let a mistake jeopardize a future job or housing. Get help today.

OUI Penalties

If you have been charged with an OUI offense, you may be facing the following penalties:

  • First offense: Driver’s license suspension of up to 90 days, fines of between $500 and $5,000, and up to two-and-a-half years in jail.
  • Second offense: Driver’s license suspension varies, mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device (IID), up to $10,000 in fines, and up to two-and-a-half years in jail.
  • Third offense: Driver’s license suspension varies, mandatory installation of an IID, possible felony charges, a license suspension of up to eight years, up to $15,000 in fines, and up to five years in prison.

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