In Massachusetts, the crime of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is called Operating Under the Influence or OUI. The per se definition of OUI in the state is operating any motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content or BAC of higher than 0.08 percent. This definition applies to drivers in the state who are 21 years old and older and who drive privately owned vehicles.
Massachusetts also defines OUI as driving while under the influence of intoxicating substances like:
- Narcotic vapors
- Prescription medications
- Other illicit controlled substances
If a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle is greatly diminished by these substances, he or she can be charged with an OUI in Massachusetts.
It is possible to be charged with an OUI even if the person’s vehicle is not moving or the engine is not running. The driver must have the ability and intent to operate the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol to be charged with this offense.
The allowable BAC limit for commercial drivers is lower at 0.04 percent. This limit applies to all drivers who hold CDLs that are issued both in Massachusetts as well as out-of-state.
Drivers who are under the age of 21 will be arrested for OUI if they have BACs of higher than 0.02 percent. This BAC for underage drivers is established under the state’s zero-tolerance laws.
OUI Penalties in Massachusetts
Massachusetts utilizes a variety of penalties to address Operating Under the Influence charges. These punishments are designed to prevent drivers from engaging in this criminal behavior.
A first OUI in Massachusetts can result in a jail term of up to 2.5 years and a fine of $500 to $5000. The offender can also have his or her drivers’ license suspended for up to one year.
A second OUI conviction leads to 60 days to 2.5 years in jail with at least 30 days being mandatory. The fine for a second conviction can range from $600 to $10,000, and the offender can have his or her license suspended for two years.
A third OUI conviction results in a jail term of 180 days to 2.5 years or a prison term of five years with 150 days being mandatory. The fines range from $1000 to $15,000, and the offender can have his or her license revoked for up to eight years.
First and second-time OUI offenders in Massachusetts can bypass jail time and steep fines by serving a probationary period instead. On a first conviction, the offender must complete at least one year of probation and have his or her license suspended for 45 to 90 days.
The suspension period increases to 210 days if the offender is under the age of 21. An OUI offender is eligible for a first-time OUI probationary sentence if the prior charge occurred more than 10 years ago.
OUI offenders who have at least one passenger under the age of 21 in the car can face an additional charge of child endangerment. He or she can also pay a fine of $1000 to $5000, serve 90 days to 2.5 years in jail, and have his or her license revoked for one year.
The commercial OUI penalties for CDL drivers include having the license suspended for one year. The license will be revoked for three years if the driver hauls hazardous materials. The license can also be revoked for one year if the CDL driver:
- Refuses a breathalyzer test
- Leaves the scene of the accident involving the commercial vehicle
- Causing an accident with the vehicle that results in death
CDL drivers will have to petition the court to have their commercial drivers’ licenses reinstated.
Underage OUI Penalties in Massachusetts
Underage drivers in Massachusetts face severe penalties for operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a driver under the age of 21 refuses a breathalyzer or chemical test to determine his or her BAC, he or she can have his or her license suspended for up to three years. Failing a breathalyzer or chemical test can likewise result in a license suspension for up to 30 days.
The maximum penalties for underage OUI in Massachusetts include:
- Up to 2.5 years in jail
- A fine of $500 to $5000
- License suspension up to one year
- Unsupervised probation up to one year
- Completing a 16-week alcohol education program
An underage driver who is found to have a BAC of 0.20 percent or higher must also complete a mandatory two week inpatient drug or alcohol abuse program.
Implied Consent Law in Massachusetts
Massachusetts uses implied consent laws to compel drivers of motor vehicles to submit to chemical testing to determine their BAC levels. Drivers who refuse testing can face a myriad of penalties including the loss of their driving privileges and fines.
A first refusal can result in the loss of one’s license for up to 180 days or three years if the driver is under the age of 21. A second refusal results in a loss of one’s license for up to three years while a third refusal leads to a license suspension for up to five years.
Drivers whose licenses are suspended or revoked can ask the state to issue them a hardship license. They must complete a portion of the license suspension period.
They also must have an ignition interlock device or IID installed on all of their vehicles at their own expense. The hardship license allows eligible drivers to drive to and from work or school for an allowable 12-hour period.
Operating Under the Influence is a serious crime in Massachusetts. Drivers who are charged with and found guilty of this crime face serious penalties like jail time and license suspensions.
The OUI laws in Massachusetts apply to drivers of all ages. They also extend to drivers who hold commercial drivers’ licenses that are issued both in the state and out-of-state.