Massachusetts has several laws regarding drunk driving and each shows little mercy on offenders. These regulations emphasize that driving is a privilege that should be taken seriously. Even first-time violations of MA DUI laws have serious consequences, so drivers should find sober rides after drinking. Those who do not heed this advice will most likely face multiple penalties and require the services of a DUI lawyer.
First OUI Conviction Penalties in Massachusetts
Blood-alcohol content (BAC) threshold for an Operating Under the Influence (OUI) charge is 0.08 percent in Massachusetts. Drivers with this concentration or higher face penalties of $500 or more in fines, probation of up to two years, mandatory participation in an alcohol education and/or treatment program, immediate 30-day and subsequent one-year driver license suspension, and jail time. Currently, Massachusetts law does not require ignition interlock device installation for an initial DUI conviction but advocacy groups are fighting to change this.
More than 8,500 people were arrested for driving under the influence and more than 120 people died in drunk driving-related crashes in Massachusetts in 2012. Nearly 60 percent of these fatalities involved drivers with BAC of at least 0.15 percent. In 2005, Melanie’s Law went into effect, imposing harsher penalties for refusing to take a chemical test, which include a 180-day driver license suspension.
Drivers may request a Chemical Test Refusal Registry hearing but must appear within 15 days of refusing chemical testing. During the hearing, a defendant is permitted to prove only that a breathalyzer test was not refused, that an arrest was not made, or that there were no reasonable grounds for an issued arrest. With help from a DUI lawyer, a defendant may prevail and the license suspension will be revoked.
Underage DUI in Massachusetts
Drivers under the Massachusetts legal drinking age of 21 are subject to a BAC threshold of 0.02 percent. Those who fail their breath tests immediately have their licenses suspended for 30 days. If convicted of OUI for the first time, they will pay fines of $500 to $5,000 and may have to serve up to 30 months in jail. They must also participate in a Youth Alcohol Program and will have their licenses suspended for an additional 180 days.
Underage drinkers charged with DUI who refuse chemical testing face a three-year driver license suspension. They may request the Chemical Test Refusal Registry hearing but should be aware that victory does not come easily. Assistance from a DUI attorney is usually required to win this hearing and the larger DUI court case.
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Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.