Massachusetts OUI Defense Lawyer
Unlike most criminal offenses, which require a specific intent to break the law, drunk driving charges can result from a single lapse in judgment. If you have been accused of drunk driving, known in Massachusetts as Operating Under the Influence (OUI), do not make the mistake of assuming you have to plead guilty. In some instances, there are actually valid defenses available that can defeat OUI charges.
Following an OUI charge, the best thing you can do for your case, aside from not incriminating yourself in any way, is to contact an experienced defense lawyer. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., our legal team represents individuals throughout Massachusetts and south New Hampshire. Our OUI defense lawyers are prepared to examine every detail surrounding your Operating Under the Influence charge and protect your legal rights every step of the way.
Along with petitioning for minimum penalty, your defense counsel should closely examine the details of your case. There is a very strict law enforcement procedure for investigating drunk driving charges and, if this procedure falters in any way, it can mean a dismissal of the charge against you. Everything from probable cause to the maintenance and upkeep of the breathalyzer in question has a bearing on these cases.
Mistakes in BAC Testing
In both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, a non-commercial driver is considered to be "under the influence" of alcohol if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher (Note: commercial drivers nationwide are considered to be in violation of OUI if their BAC is .04% or higher). BAC is determined primarily through three different types of tests: urine tests, blood tests, and breath tests. However, these tests are not always completely accurate, and all three have the capability for error. Whether it’s human error or a miscalibrated sobriety test device, there can never be complete certainty with these test results since they aren’t foolproof.
Field Sobriety Testing
In addition to being asked to complete a BAC test, law enforcement officers can ask those alleged to be driving drunk to complete a range of field sobriety tests. However, it should be noted that field sobriety tests are voluntary tests that you do not have to perform. Granted, the officer on scene will more than likely arrest you for failing to do the test, but refusing to do the test may help prevent you from further incriminating yourself.
If field sobriety tests are not performed properly, they can provide evidence of intoxication even if there is none. In fact, the main thing to keep in mind with field sobriety tests is that they are designed to make you fail. Judgment rests entirely on the shoulders of law enforcement officers conducting the tests, and whatever that officer’s individual interpretation of your test results is could have a serious impact on the charges being filed against you.
Penalties for Multiple Offenses
An OUI is considered a misdemeanor in Massachusetts unless it is your third or more such offense, or if it involves serious bodily injury or death. A felony conviction carries a penalty of more than two and a half years in jail and the mandatory submission of a DNA sample.
Our firm focuses on helping you avoid or minimize OUI penalties, which are as follows:
- First offense over 21 years of age (.08 BAC): Up to 30 months in jail, driver’s license suspension for one year, mandatory participation in an alcohol education program and monetary fines.
- First offense under 21 years of age (.02 BAC): Up to 30 months in jail, driver’s license suspension for one year, monetary fines ranging from $500 to $5,000, possible probation and possible alcohol education program.
- Second offense: Up to 30 months in jail, two years’ driver’s license suspension, monetary fines ranging from $600 to $10,000, and an ignition interlock device if a hardship license is granted.
- Third offense: Minimum 180 days’ jail time and no more than five years’ state prison if felony status, driver’s license suspension for eight years, monetary fines ranging from $1,000 to $15,000, and ignition interlock device if hardship license is granted.
- Fourth offense: Minimum of two years’ jail time, 10 years’ driver’s license suspension, monetary fines ranging from $1,500 to $25,000, and ignition interlock device if hardship license is granted.
Penalties for OUI with Injury
Any DUI or OUI charge is serious, but an OUI that causes injury is an especially serious offense.
OUI with serious bodily injury can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, and the distinction between the two offenses is minimal. Prosecutors will typically include misdemeanor charges as a lesser-included offense along with the felony charge, making it more likely that they can secure a conviction. If you’ve been charged, you’re not just facing administrative penalties – you’re facing real criminal consequences that could cost you your freedom and future.
Penalties for a felony conviction include:
- Prison term of at least six months, and up to ten years
- A mandatory two-year loss of your driver’s license
- A $5,000 fine
Penalties for a misdemeanor conviction include:
- Up to 30 months in jail
- A mandatory two-year loss of your driving privileges
- A $3,000 fine
- Melanie’s Law: In 2005, Massachusetts passed "Melanie’s Law," named after a 13-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a repeat OUI offender. The law requires installment of an ignition interlock device for any driver who’s a second time OUI offender.
- Hardship License: If you’ve been convicted of an OUI but need to drive for work or other legitimate reasons, you can apply for a hardship license. To get a hardship license, you’ll need to apply, attend a Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) hearing, and provide certain documents: a letter from your employer and proof of involvement in a certified alcohol program.
- Lifetime Look-Back Period: Unlike other states where a drunk driving conviction is expunged after a period of 10 or more years, Massachusetts has a "lifetime look-back period," meaning that an OUI offense stays on your record permanently.
OUI charges can have a lasting impact long after the day of your arrest. If you have been arrested for OUI, time is absolutely of the essence.
Please call DiBella Law Offices, P.C. as soon as possible at (978) 327-5140 to discuss the details of your arrest and strategies we can use to help fight the charges being brought against you. We have offices in Boston, Methuen, and Burlington, and we handle cases throughout Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Call 24/7 for a free initial consultation.
We offer Spanish translation services; servicios de traducción disponibles.
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