MA is tough on OUI. But if this is your first offense, there are multiple defenses and alternative sentencing options that may be available to you. A first offense conviction of OUI in MA can carry a penalty of up to two-and-a-half years in jail, a one-year license suspension, and a fine of up to $5,000. However, this is rarely the outcome. With the help of a skilled Boston OUI defense attorney, you can dramatically improve your chances of a reduced or dismissed charge.
As with most criminal offenses, penalties for OUI take into account prior criminal history, and the severity of your crime. For example, if you were arrested for OUI while driving a child under the age of 14, you may also face child endangerment charges. But in most cases, a first-offense OUI without aggravating circumstances will not land you behind bars.
Did You Refuse the Breath Test?
In MA, if you refused a breath test at the time of your arrest, you will face an automatic license suspension of 180 days. On the other hand, if you take the breath test and it registers a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above, your license will be suspended for a minimum of 30 days.
At first glance, it may seem like a better deal to submit to the breath test, even if you may be over the legal limit. But this isn’t always the case. That being said, it is impossible to give blanket advice about whether or not to refuse a breath test; this decision should be based on multiple factors, including your level of intoxication, prior criminal history, whether you have past OUI convictions, and your personal / work / home life situation. If you do choose to refuse the breath test, you are entitled to challenge the associated suspension at a hearing. You have 15 days following your arrest to appeal this suspension. Take advantage of this option.
Alternative “24D” Disposition
In MA, a first or second offense OUI is considered a misdemeanor. If you are facing charges for either offense, you may qualify for a program known as “24D,” or Alternative Disposition. 24D provides an alternative to the harsh penalties of an OUI conviction. If approved for 24D, you will be given one to two years of probation and will be required to complete an alcohol education program. Once you’ve enrolled in the class, you will likely receive a hardship license, even if you refused the breath test. A MA OUI defense attorney can help you determine if you are eligible for 24D.
Second and Subsequent Convictions
If you are facing a second or subsequent conviction, the penalties you are facing will understandably be more severe. However, individuals convicted of second offense OUIs may still be eligible for 24D, under certain circumstances. Penalties for second and subsequent offenses may include:
- Second OUI offense: Up to two-and-a-half years in jail, license suspension of up to two years, a fine of up to $10,000, and the installation of an interlock ignition device at your own expense.
- Third and subsequent OUI offenses: Up to two-and-a-half years in jail, a fine of up to $15,000, and a license suspension of up to eight years.