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Drunk Driving in Massachusetts: An Overview of OUI Laws and Penalties

The penalties for a drunk driving conviction or chemical test refusal can be severe, including driver's license suspension, fines and possible use of an ignition interlock device.
 
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    January 09, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Massachusetts' drunk driving laws have recently undergone significant changes. Following the implementation of Melanie's Law and legislation enacted in the wake of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Souza v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles, the penalties for an Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs conviction or chemical test refusal can be severe. Some of the consequences include driver's license suspension, fines and possible required use of an ignition interlock device.

Massachusetts' OUI laws

In Massachusetts, a driver may be convicted of OUI if his or her blood-alcohol content is 0.08 percent or greater. In addition, a driver may face OUI charges if his or her BAC was below the legal limit but the arresting police officer believed the individual's ability to drive safely was impaired by alcohol or drugs. In these cases, the driver may have failed a series of field sobriety tests.

When stopped on suspicion of drunk driving in Massachusetts, all drivers are asked to perform a Breathalyzer test to measure their BAC. Although a driver may decline, the consequences of chemical test refusal are harsh and apply immediately. The driver's license is automatically suspended for a minimum of 180 days, and the vehicle will be impounded at cost to the driver.

If the driver has a previous OUI conviction and refuses a chemical test, his or her license is automatically suspended for three years. Chemical test refusal with two prior OUIs results in license suspension for five years. If a driver refuses to perform a Breathalyzer test with three or more previous OUI convictions, his or her license will be revoked for life.

OUI conviction penalties

Further, if a driver fails a Breathalyzer test with a reading of 0.08 percent or greater, his or her license will be automatically suspended for 30 days. Upon conviction for a first-time OUI offense, the driver's license will be suspended for one year, and jail time of up to two-and-a-half years and fines ranging from $500 to $5,000 may be imposed.

For a second OUI conviction, the driver's license will be suspended for two years, and he or she may be fined $600 to $10,000, with the possibility of a prison term for up to two-and-a-half years. A third conviction for OUI carries a penalty of $1,000 to $15,000 in fines, possible jail time for up to five years and license suspension for eight years. For a fourth OUI conviction, the driver's license is suspended for 10 years, and fifth or subsequent convictions result in lifetime license revocation.

Underage OUI laws

Additional penalties may be imposed for drivers under age 21 who are charged with OUI in Massachusetts. If an underage driver refuses to perform a Breathalyzer test when stopped on suspicion of impaired driving, his or her license will be suspended for three years if the refusal is not successfully challenged. In addition, drivers under age 21 who perform a chemical test with a BAC of 0.02 percent or greater may face OUI charges and automatic license suspension. In some cases, completing an alcohol treatment program may shorten the suspension period.

Ignition interlock devices

Drivers convicted of a second or subsequent OUI in Massachusetts must use an ignition interlock device when their driver's license is reinstated or when they receive a hardship license. The ignition interlock device must be used for the entire period of the hardship license and for two years once the driver's regular license is reinstated.

The driver must pay for installation, leasing and maintenance of the ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle. Before the car will start, the driver must blow into the device, and if it registers a BAC greater than 0.02 percent, the car will not start. The driver also must perform BAC tests at random intervals while the car is running and will have five minutes to complete the test once notified. Successful tests, as well as failures and missed tests, are logged with device, and drivers must go to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles every 30 days to transfer this data to the RMV.

As evidenced by this information, a Massachusetts drunk driving conviction can have a significant impact on one's life. If you have been arrested on suspicion of OUI, contact an OUI defense attorney to begin your defense.

Article provided by Dianna L. Abdala Attorney at Law
Visit us at www.bostonmassdefense.com



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