DRUNK DRIVING DEFENSE IN MASSACHUSETTS - OUI, DWI, & DUI

   Serving Greater Boston, Essex, Middlesex, & Suffolk Counties

Operating Under the Influence (OUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are serious offenses in Massachusetts as the Commonwealth has some of the toughest laws in the United States. When facing any related charges, you must have an experienced lawyer looking out for your best interests. Mark C. Thomas was not only a Police Prosecutor but also served as an Alcohol Roadside Sobriety test instructor and knows everything there is to know about OUI, DWI, and DUI - hence the UNFAIR ADVANTAGE. If you have been arrested for one of these offenses, contact the law firm of Mark C. Thomas right away. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year: 857.453.6700.

In the state of Massachusetts, it is illegal to drive or operate a motor vehicle if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to state DUI law, a person is considered too impaired to drive if his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher. However, you can be charged if your BAC is just .06% or .07%.

If a driver is under the age of 21, he or she is prohibited from driving if his or her BAC is higher than .02%. Any driver in Boston or throughout the state of Massachusetts found driving with a BAC at or above the legal limit will be arrested and booked on DUI charges. At this time, it’s best to contact a seasoned Boston DUI lawyer who has the experience and skill to defend you in court. Judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement authorities have no tolerance for people who drive under the influence, and always prosecute those people harshly in court.

The criminal offense of OUI can include increased insurance cost (or cancellation of coverage), loss of employment, inability to rent a car, possible loss of professional certifications. These non-judicial or economic penalties are not addressed in this summary.

An OUI conviction plea of guilty or admission to sufficient facts will be a permanent part of your driving record. Thus, it will not "come off" your record. It is permanent. Moreover, a conviction is reported to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), and they report it to the National Driver's License Registry. Every state in the U.S. has access to driver's licensing agencies.

Any non-resident driver's home state driver's license agency (RMV, DMV, DPS, etc.) will in all likelihood receive a notice from the RMV if any license suspension occurs in Massachusetts. Most states are reciprocal, meaning that an OUI in the state of Massachusetts may cause a suspension to occur in the non-resident's home state.

The prosecutor has a wide range of flexibility in prosecuting your case. He/she is likely to introduce evidence of prior instances where you were convicted of crimes. In addition, the court has broad powers in sentencing as in giving probation rather than jail, but probation conditions can be extremely restrictive. Probation monthly costs (supervision fees) can be expensive, but they can be argued to be lowered or even dismissed. The length of probation can be adjusted too by the judge. Don't go into court without an experienced lawyer looking out for your best interests. Let Mark Thomas and his associates - comprised of prior prosecutors, local and state police - argue for you to get the best deal possible.

OUI, DWI, & DUI Penalties in Massachusetts

1st Offense

  • Incarceration: Not more than 2½ years House of Correction
  • Fine: $500-$5,000
  • License suspended for 1 year, work/education hardship considered in 6 months, general hardship in 6 months
  • Alternative disposition
    • Probation with mandatory participation in alcohol education program, which is paid for by you
    • License suspended for 45 to 90 days (210 days for drivers under age 21). A hardship license may be available for 2nd offenses if there is only 1 other prior offense and the conviction or plea on that offense occurred more than 10 years prior to the date of the arrest

2nd Offense

  • Incarceration: Not less than 60 days (30 day mandatory), not more then 2 ½ years
  • Fine: $600-$10,000
  • License suspended for 2 years, work/education hardship considered in 1 year, general hardship in 18 months
    • A condition of any hardship license is the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least 2 years. The device requires that the operator have a breath alcohol level of less than .02 for the car to start
  • Alternative disposition
    • 2 years probation
    • 14 day confined treatment program paid for by the defendant
    • License suspended for two years, work/education hardship considered in 1 year, general hardship in 18 months
  • NOTE: A condition of any hardship license is the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least 2 years. The device requires that the operator have a breath alcohol level of less than .02 for the car to start

3rd Offense

  • Incarceration: Not less than 180 days (150 day mandatory), not more than 5 years State Prison (Felony status)
  • May be served in a correctional facility treatment programs
  • Fine $1,000-$15,000
  • License suspended for 8 years, work/education hardship considered in 2 years, general hardship in 4 years
    • A condition of any hardship license is the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least the hardship period. The device requires that the operator have a breath alcohol level of less than .02 for the car to start

4th Offense

  • Incarceration: Not less than 2 years (1 year Minimum Mandatory), not more than 5 years (Felony status)
  • Fine $1,500-$25,000
  • License suspended for 10 years, work/education hardship considered in 5 years, general hardship in 8 years
    • A condition of any hardship license is the installation of an ignition interlock device for at least the hardship period. The device requires that the operator have a breath alcohol level of less than .02 for the car to start.

5th Offense

  • Incarceration: Not less than 2 ½ years (24 mos. Minimum Mandatory), not more than 5 years (Felony Status)
  • Fine $2,000-$50,000
  • License for life, no possibility of hardship

License Re-instatement Fees

  • First Offense $300.00
  • Second Offense $500.00
  • Third Offense $1,000.00

Incriminating Evidence, You, and How We Can Help Breathalyzer

  • If you fail the breathalyzer test (.08 or higher) your license will be suspended for thirty (30) days
  • If you are under the age of 21 and your breathalyzer test result is a .02 or higher your license will be suspended for thirty (30) days
    • In certain circumstances breathalyzer results are inadmissible at trial in the absence of expert testimony showing the relationship between the test results and intoxication or impairment, Commonwealth v. Colturi, 448 Mass. 809 (2007)
  • If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test the district attorney cannot comment on that refusal nor can the fact that you refused to take the test be admissible in any way at trial
    • Under 501 CMR Section 2.55, once a person arrested for OUI influence submits to a breathalyzer test he or she is supposed to be observed by the breath test operator for at least fifteen minutes before the test is administered to make sure that the subject does not eat, drink or is not burping or hiccoughing

Field Sobriety Tests

Police officers in Massachusetts regularly use four or five of these tests when trying to determine if the motor vehicle operator is impaired. These tests are commonly referred to as:

  • Alphabet test
  • Walk and turn test
  • One-legged stand test
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test
  • Finger-to-nose test

These tests must be properly administered for them to have any validity. Therefore, it is critical that your lawyer understand these tests and is familiar with the process by which they are supposed to be run.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established guidelines for the administration of certain tests. It is interesting to note that the NHTSA has validated three of these tests only; the walk and turn test, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test and the one-legged stand test.

Many times police fail to adhere to these guidelines. A good DUI lawyer should be able to exploit these shortcomings and discredit the officer's conclusions. Field sobriety tests are supposed to be reasonably simple. They are designed for the average person to perform when sober. Tests that sober people cannot perform have little or no evidentiary value. Any tests designed to "trick" the suspect can be recognized and will be argued by experienced drunk driving defense lawyers like Mark Thomas who can quickly point this out to the jury or judge.

Massachusetts has some very important case decisions that pertain to field sobriety tests. In Commonwealth v. Sands, 424 Mass. 184 (1997) the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test cannot be admitted into evidence absent a showing of its reliability and that it was administered by someone qualified to do so. As a practical matter this decision eliminated this test as evidence in Massachusetts. In Commonwealth v. McGrail, 419 Mass. 774 (1995) the Court held that a person's refusal to perform field sobriety tests cannot be used against him as evidence. Thus, if you refuse to take these tests there can be no mention of them at trial.

When hiring a lawyer for OUI cases in Massachusetts, it is important that the lawyer you choose understands what is and what is not admissible at trial. Experienced DUI lawyers are familiar with the NHTSA standards and the applicable Massachusetts case law. You must have an experienced OUI lawyer like Mark Thomas to have a fighting chance.

Blood Alcohol Content

Massachusetts recently became a "per se" state. This means that if your breath or blood are tested and the result is .08 or above, you will be found guilty if and only if the judge or jury believes the test was conducted properly and the reading was accurate. There are many reasons why the test may not be used against you. As a previous Alcohol Roadside Sobriety instructor for the Police, Mark Thomas has an extreme advantage in knowledge of police protocol and procedures in regard to OUI.

Subsequent Offender Status

"Repeat offender" status for OUI cases is determined in Massachusetts based upon a lifetime "look back" period. This status is used for purposes of increasing t he mandatory minimum punishment. The judge can review your entire prior record and increase your punishment (up to the maximum penalties set by law) over that which would normally be given.

Additional Information re: OUI, DWI, & DUI