If convicted of Operating Under the Influence (OUI), you will face various penalties including probation, jail, heavy fines and lengthy periods of suspensions of your driver’s license. Most of these penalties and consequences are mandated by statute leaving the judge with little discretion to impose a fair and just punishment. The severity of the penalties and suspensions will depend on how many prior convictions or CWOFs you have on your record, no matter how old they might be. While fines, probation, and jail only apply if you are convicted of OUI, there are periods of license loss for failing the breath test or refusing the breath test, in addition to license loss periods for being convicted of OUI.
Breath Test License Suspensions in Lowell
When you are pulled over in Lowell and asked to perform a breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, you have two options: you can refuse the test, or you can participate with the knowledge that you may fail if you have been drinking. Your choice will greatly impact whether your license is suspended and for how long.
If you fail the breath test (0.08 or higher; 0.02 or higher if the driver is under 21), your license will be suspended for 30 days or until your case is resolved in court (whichever happens first).
If you refuse the breath test, your license will be automatically suspended for 6 months if this is your first OUI offense (3 years suspension if you are under 21). The license loss associated with subsequent offense OUIs is much longer: 3 years if this is your second offense (which means that you have a previous conviction or continuance without a finding for OUI), 5 years if this is your third offense, and a lifetime loss if this is your fourth offense or higher. There are no “hardship licenses” available through the RMV during a period of suspension for refusing the breath test. In the event that you have a previous OUI conviction or CWOF in which serious bodily injury of another person was part of your plea/admission, the suspension penalty is 10 years unless the regular license suspension is higher in which case the higher one applies. If you have a prior conviction for OUI motor vehicle homicide or OUI manslaughter, refusal would result in a lifetime suspension.
OUI Convictions: Penalties, Fines, and License Suspensions
If you are found guilty of are operating under the influence, you will face a period of license suspension as a result of the conviction. If you refused the breath test, the license suspension for the conviction will start running after the refusal suspension finishes.
OUI First Offense
If you are convicted of OUI and have no prior convictions or CWOFs, there is not mandatory jail sentence and you will most likely be placed on probation. If you are not given the “24D Alternative Program,” you will face up to 2.5 years in county jail and at least a $500 minimum fine. You will also face a one-year judicially imposed license suspension although you can apply for a “hardship license” with the RMV after three months if you require your vehicle to get to work or school; 6 months if your “hardship” is for any other reason. If you are given the 24D program, you will be placed on probation for no more than two years and required to do an alcohol treatment program. Your license loss will be between 45-90 days with a hardship license available 3 business days after enrolling in the designated alcohol education program. If you are under 21 the license loss with the 24D program will be for 6 months.
OUI Second Offense
A conviction for a second offense OUI requires the imposition of a sentence of not less than 60 days with 30 days that must be served although a judge may agree to impose a 14-day inpatient program followed by a 26 week outpatient program as an alternative. You will also face at least $600 in fines. A conviction for second offense OUI requires a two year license suspension, with a hardship license available after one year if you need to drive to work or school or after 18 months for any other purpose. You will be required to put an interlocking device (which is a breathalyzer in your car that you must pass in order to turn on the engine) if granted a hardship license
If your prior conviction or CWOF is over 10 years old, you are eligible for the 24D program described above although you will need to install the interlocking device if granted a hardship license (which you would not need to do if you were given the 24D on a first offense OUI).
OUI Third Offense
A third offense OUI is a felony in Massachusetts. A conviction for the crime is punishable by not less than 6 months of county jail (150 days of which must be served). A fine of at least $1000 will be imposed. The license suspension for a third OUI offense is lengthy: eight years, with a hardship license available after two years for driving to work or school and 4 years for other purposes. An interlocking device is required.
OUI Fourth Offense
Like a third OUI offense, a fourth OUI offense is also a felony. This crime is punishable by no less than 2 years in county jail or 2.5 years in state prison, with a mandatory one year that must be served. A fine of at least $1,500 will be assessed. A conviction for this offense will result in a 10-year license suspension with a hardship license available after 5 years for work or education purposes and 8 years for other reasons. An interlocking device is required.
OUI Fifth Offense
If you are convicted of an OUI for the fifth time, a state prison sentence of not less than 2.5 year will be imposed and you must serve at least two years in custody. Your license will be permanently suspended for the remainder of your life and you will not be able to apply for a hardship license. A fine of at least $2000 will be imposed.
Why You Need a Lowell OUI Attorney Fighting for You
If you are charged OUI, the consequences are grave even if this is your first time being charged. These consequences can be crippling, and may prevent you from gaining or maintaining employment, attending school, and caring for yourself and your family members. To fight for the best possible outcome, you need an experienced Lowell OUI lawyer on your side.
If you are facing OUI charges, please contact me for a free consultation.