Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Massachusetts

Massachusetts residents who have been pulled over and arrested on drunk driving charges could face a wide variety of punishments. Depending on the nature of your arrest and how many times you have been convicted of drunk driving in the past, the penalties can be severe. 

Understanding how Massachusetts handles drunk driving can help you understand your rights and help you find a knowledgeable Massachusetts DUI defense attorney to help resolve your case.

Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws

Massachusetts law criminalizes operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or more or while under the influence of liquor or other drugs. The threshold is a BAC of .04% or more for commercial drivers.

Drivers under the age of 21 may be subject to special penalties, different license suspension requirements, and completing a youth alcohol program. The threshold for underage drivers is a BAC of .02%.

A Massachusetts OUI does not require actual movement or even having the engine running to be considered operating a vehicle but just that you had the ability to potentially move the car.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: BAC of .20% or more; driving with a child 14 years of age or younger, prior convictions, causing an accident causing serious bodily injury or death

There are no “look back periods” in Massachusetts so what that means is that your DUI record never expires or you don’t start over within a certain number of years of having a prior conviction. Driving your car when you have a suspended license due to a DUI is considered a misdemeanor on the first offense, and you could face a minimum of 60 days in jail. 

Penalties for DUI in Massachusetts include:

  • First offense: no more than 2.5 years imprisonment; a $500 to $5,000 fine; and assessments in the amounts of $250 and $50.
  • Second offense: 60 days to up to 2.5 years of imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days to serve; and a $600 to $10,000 fine.
  • Third offense: 180 days to no more than 2.5 years imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of 150 days to be served; and a $1,000 to $15,000 fine.

Additional offenses have harsher penalties of imprisonment and longer revocation periods. Other consequences may include inpatient stays at an alcohol treatment program, mandatory alcohol education courses, and an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle.

Operating Under the Influence in Massachusetts

Drivers are considered to be too drunk to legally drive in Massachusetts if their blood alcohol levels are tested at 0.08% or more. Drivers under the age of 21 are subjected to even stricter limitations and they are considered too drunk to drive if their blood alcohol content is only 0.02%. If the driver’s BAC  hits 0.20% or more, they may face stiffer penalties.

Defenses Against OUI Convictions in Massachusetts

There are a number of common defenses that you can use against a Massachusetts drunk driving charge. In some cases, you may be able to show that the arresting officer did not have a valid legal basis to pull you over. If the police officer cannot show a valid reason for pulling you over, it could serve to invalidate the OUI charges.

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