Massachusetts DUI Law

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Massachusetts DUI video transcription

If you refuse a breath test in the state of Massachusetts you can lose your license for a minimum of 180 days. If the Massachusetts registry of motor vehicles suspends your license for refusal to take the breath test, you can appeal that suspension at the registry and appeal the registry decision to the local district court. Be sure to do so quickly and hire a skilled DUI attorney right away.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence), OUI (Operating Under the Influence), and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired) are all terms used to describe drunk driving charges in the state of Massachusetts.

Drunk driving defense is a specialized area. Let one of the qualified DUI LAWS attorneys find a solution to your legal problem if you, or someone you care about, has been arrested for DUI or DWI. Contact a Massachusetts DUI LAWS lawyer near you for a free consultation by calling 1.800.DUI.LAWS.

Massachusetts does have a "per se" law, meaning that it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level that is .08% or higher for drivers over the age of 21. For those under 21, the limit is .02%.

Massachusetts DUI or OUI trials are to juries of six, or to a judge, if the accused waives his or her right to a jury trial.

Massachusetts DUI or OUI arrests will usually include a request to take a both roadside field sobriety tests and a breath test. Since a refusal to take the field sobriety tests cannot be introduced in court as consciousness of guilt, the wiser course is to refuse them. Likewise, since refusal to take the breath test cannot be introduced in court, most experienced OUI lawyers in this state advice against taking the chemical test. If you have been arrested for a DUI / OUI, our experienced attorneys are available for a FREE consultation.

However, there is a penalty of a possible Driver's License consequence: if the accused refuses the breath test, they can lose their license for a minimum of 180 days.

An OUI / DUI / DWI conviction plea of "guilty"  or admission to sufficient facts will be a permanent part of your driving record. It does not "come off"  your record after 5 years… it never comes off your record. Moreover, a conviction, guilty plea or admission to sufficient facts plea is reported to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, which in turn, reports it to the National Driver's License Registry. These computer records are accessible to driver's licensing agencies nationwide.
Any non-resident driver's home state driver's license agency (RMV, DMV, DPS, etc.) will in all likelihood receive a notice from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles if any license suspension or case disposition (conviction or admission to sufficient facts) occurs in Massachusetts and the non-resident license is involved. In almost all cases an admission to sufficient facts plea, guilty plea or guilty verdict in a criminal case for OUI or DUI in the state of Massachusetts will cause a suspension to occur in the non-resident's home state. A "not guilty"  or other non-OUI disposition of the case will prevent such consequences.


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. This may be as a result of poor record keeping by the police, machine malfunction or an improperly administered test. There are also medical and environmental reasons why the test may be incorrect.

Massachusetts DUI LAW It is important to get legal advice from a lawyer who specializes in drunk driving defense before admitting to anything.


"Repeat offender"  status for OUI / DUI cases is determined in Massachusetts based upon a lifetime "lookback"  period. This status is used for purposes of increased mandatory minimum punishment and penalties. A bad record can come back to haunt a person facing a current OUI charge. Remember that a judge can review your ENTIRE record for the purposes of:

  1. increasing your OUI / DUI punishment (up to the maximum penalties set by law) over that which he/she would give another person with no prior / OUI / DUI record;
  2. allowing the prosecutor (in some instances, after notice and a pre-trial OUI / DUI hearing) to introduce evidence of prior instances where you were convicted of crimes, although it is extremely unlikely that a prior OUI / DUI charge will be used. The prosecutor may attempt to bring in evidence from any case, even those older than 5 years. This type of evidence can be used as "impeachment" evidence if and only if the accused takes the stand in his/her own defense. Use of prior convictions, especially prior OUI / DUI convictions, is extremely rare;


The sentencing court has broad powers at sentencing insofar as whether to probation conditions. Furthermore, if probation is granted (in lieu of jail time), the conditions of probation can be extremely onerous and restrictive. Moreover, all jurisdictions charge monthly "supervision"  fees so that the person pays for his/her probationary sentence. The length of probation is optional with the judge.


WARNING. The following penalties list license losses for each offense. In rare cases, an experienced OUI / DWI / DUI lawyer may be successful in reducing the offense level you are charged with (such as a third offense OUI reduced to a second offense OUI). Regardless of the reduction or the sentence, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) will suspend your license based upon their records, which may include out of state offenses.

First offense

  • Incarceration: Not more than 2 ½ years House of Correction
  • Fine: $500-$5,000
  • License suspended for 1 year, work/education hardship considered in 3 months, general hardship in 6 months

Alternative disposition

  • Probation with mandatory participation in alcohol-drug education program paid for by defendant
  • License suspended for 45 to 90 days (210 days for drivers under age 21) A hardship license may be available
  • 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.
    NOTE: 2 year loss of license is mandatory, however.

Second 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 6 months, general hardship in 1 year.

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 6 months, general hardship in 1 year

Third 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

Fourth 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

Fifth offense

  • Incarceration: Not less than 2 ½ years (24 mos. Minimum Mandatory), not more than 5 years (Felony Status)
  • Fine $2,00-$50,000
  • License for life, no possibility of hardship


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

License consequences from the RMV are as follows (NOTE: these are separate and apart from any license consequences imposed by the court):

  • For a first offense OUI charge, if you take the test and fail, the license suspension period has decreased from 90 to 30 days.
  • If you instead refuse the test, the suspension is now increased to 180 days from 120, also only for a first OUI offense.
  • For those under 21, or those with a prior OUI conviction, the penalties for refusal of the breath test have also both increased from 180 days to 1 year.

A hardship license is a limited use license that allows you to drive for 12 hours a day in order to get to work. It is available to individuals who have had their licenses revoked after a conviction or dispensation on a charge of OUI / DUI / Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 4/1/04 Rules Change - Effective April 1, 2004, to secure a hardship license, you must have documentation of employment. You are required to have a letter from your employer (on company letterhead) stating that you need a license to get to work. A pay stub is no longer sufficient. If you are self-employed, you will need to provide articles of your business registration.

If the Registry (RMV) suspends your license for refusal to take the breath test you can appeal that suspension at the Registry (RMV) and appeal the registry decision to the local district court. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will not issue a hardship license (also known as a limited license, work license, day license or Cinderella license), for refusing to take a breath test. They will only issue them for an OUI conviction, a drug conviction, or for Habitual Traffic Offender suspensions. The Mass RMV mandates a minimum suspension period before a hardship application can be made which varies depending on the reason for suspension.

The registry hearing officers have a checklist of 9 different conditions that have to be met in order to grant a Massachusetts hardship license for OUI or drug offenses, and 6 different factors for a Habitual traffic offender. Your chances of promptly receiving a hardship license increase if a Massachusetts OUI attorney represents you.


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