Massachusetts DUI 101

In Massachusetts, a drunk-driving charge is generally referred to as an OUI (Operating Under the Influence) rather than a Massachusetts DUI. Those who have been caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be punished under the law. The severity of such punishment depends on how many of the same offenses the offender has been convicted of, and how high their blood alcohol content (BAC) is.

What Constitutes a Massachusetts DUI

The legal limit for blood alcohol content in Massachusetts depends on a driver’s age. The legal BAC limit for those over the age of 21 is .08 percent, while for those under the age of 21 it is .02 percent. Individuals who operate a commercial vehicle cannot have a BAC exceeding .04 percent. How many drinks it takes to get to these blood alcohol levels differs from one person to the next, so it is almost impossible to know how many drinks you can safely have before you get behind the wheel of a car.

Penalties

The penalties that you can face for drinking and driving depend on how many times you have been convicted of a Massachusetts DUI. The following chart outlines how penalities increase with each conviction:

First offense

  • Fines between $500 and $5,000
  • Jail time of up to two and a half years
  • Suspension of driver’s license up to one year

Second offense

  • Fines between $600 and $10,000
  • Jail time between 30 days and two and a half years
  • Suspension of driver’s license for two years
  • Possibility of an ignition interlock device being installed on your car

Third offense

  • Fines between $1,000 and $15,000
  • Jail time between 150 days and two and a half years
  • Suspension of driver’s license for eight years
  • Possibility of an ignition interlock device being installed on your car

Fourth offense

  • Fines between $1,500 and $25,000
  • Jail time between one and three years
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 10 years
  • Possibility of an ignition interlock device being installed on your car

Fifth offense

  • Fines between $2,000-$50,000
  • Jail time between 2 to 5 years
  • Suspension of driver’s license for life
  • Possibility of an ignition interlock device being installed on your car

Restricted Licenses

Massachusetts may allow a restricted license — or a “hardship license” as it’s known in the state –depending on a few things. If, for example, you have refused a breath test after being stopped under suspicion of DUI, you may not be eligible for a hardship license. If you are eligible for this license, you will only be permitted to drive a vehicle for 12 hours each day, which must be identical in nature. These 12-hour periods are based on your needs, such as schooling, work, community service and so forth.

DUI Programs

Being convicted of an DUI in Massachusetts will most likely lead to your enrollment in court-mandated alcohol treatment programs. First offenses will probably result in having to attend a state-approved Driver Alcohol Education Program, which can potentially lessen your sentence. This program consists of an assessment of your alcohol issues, 32 hours of group meetings, self-help group participation, and attending victim-impacted presentations. Speakers at these presentations generally include members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The cost of these programs is roughly $600, which is usually paid for by the convicted individual.

In light of the harsh consequences potentially waiting for you, it is wise to avoid commiting any Massachusetts DUI offenses.