OUI vs. DUI: What You Need to Know

If you feel confused about OUI vs. DUI and want to make sure you understand these charges, you are not alone! Here we break it all down for you.  

Facing an OUI or. DUI charge is stressful. If you are facing charges, you’ll want to be fully informed about the charges you face, and a first step is understanding the terminology. The term OUI (“operating under the influence”) is used in certain states, including Massachusetts, and is the same thing as a DUI  (“driving under the influence”). Both terms refer to charges brought against a person for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. 

Read more and we will break down what you need to know.

If you or a loved one has been arrested and has questions about an OUI vs. DUI charge, contact the Law Offices of Keren Goldenberg today to discuss the details of your case: online or by phone: 978-221-2503 (Lowell), 617-431-2701 (Belmont).

What are we talking about when we use OUI vs. DUI?  

Every state has its own impaired driving laws. While DUI is a more widely-used term, impaired driving is in Massachusetts is called OUI. Under Massachusetts law, a driver can be charged with an OUI for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, regardless if they show signs of impairment that impacts their driving. A person can also be charged with OUI if they demonstrate signs of impairment that impacts their driving, even if they do not submit to a breath test, and EVEN IF THEIR BAC is below 0.08%. All the is required to be charged is an officer claiming to have observed signs of impairment. .

OUI penalties apply for drivers under the influence of any intoxicating substance that impairs driving ability and road responsiveness. These include:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana 
  • Narcotics including prescription drugs

Penalties for an OUI 

OUI offenders typically face fines, license suspension, and possible jail time. The maximum penalty for a first-time offender in Massachusetts is 2 ½ years. In addition there are fines and fees, which can be significant, especially when insurance rate premiums and attorney fees are taken into account. 

Penalties set by the state increase in severity with every repeat offense and can be as serious as up to 5 years in prison and 8 years without a license. 

First-time offenders with no prior record and experienced legal representation, however, might face something like 1 year probation, 45 day license revocation, and mandatory attendance of an alcohol education program.

Bottom-line: OUI and DUI charges should be taken very seriously and strong legal defense is absolutely essential to avoiding worst-case outcomes.  

A note about implied consent

Massachusetts law requires drivers arrested for an OUI to consent to a breathalyzer test. Refusal to do so can carry severe penalties including a longer license suspension than what is issued for individuals who blow above the legal limit. License suspension for drivers who refuse to comply with implied consent law cannot be avoided with a hardship license or by any other means. 

The best way to avoid consequences from an OUI is to avoid operating a vehicle on public access roads after consuming anything that impairs your driving. The next best way is to make sure you have an experienced lawyer on your side who can help you understand your rights and how to best defend them. If you have been arrested and are wondering about the next steps, don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation. We are here to help. 

An Attorney Can Help

Penalties for an OUI can be confusing and quite serious. Whether you are a first-time or repeat OUI or DUI offender, an experienced defense attorney is your best line of defense. They will help you fight to minimize penalties and increase your chances of probation, obtaining a hardship license and other favorable outcomes. 

If you are faced with OUI Massachusetts charges, we can help. Contact our law offices to better understand the charges you face and your best defense strategies to pursue a favorable outcome. 

The Law Offices of Keren Goldenberg are conveniently located in Lowell and Belmont, Massachusetts at the following addresses:

The Law Offices of Keren Goldenberg

97 Central St. #403

Lowell, MA 01852


The Law Offices of Keren Goldenberg

19A Alexander Ave.

Belmont, MA 02478