How Does Massachusetts Define OUI Charges?
In Massachusetts, Operated Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor is outlined in chapter 90, sec. 24 of our laws. (Another common offense is Operating under the Influence of Drugs.) Operating Under the Influence of Liquor is essentially proven under two different theories: a person can violate the law by operating a motor vehicle while impaired from consuming an intoxicating liquor (the impaired theory) or by operating a motor vehicle while they have a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or greater (the per se theory). A person does not have to be fall down or black out drunk to be convicted of OUI. All it takes is that a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safety is impaired or reduced due to the consumption of intoxicating liquor.
What Are the Factors That Could Aggravate or Enhance an OUI Charge Under Massachusetts Law?
Prosecutors look at these cases on a case-by-case basis. If there was an accident involved, whether the result was property damage or harm to another person, the case is going to be looked at more seriously. Another aggravating factor would be the defendant or the operator leaving the scene after an accident involving property or another person. A third aggravating factor would be a blood alcohol level substantially higher than 0.08. An aggravating factor doesn’t necessarily mean an increased sentence, but it does mean that the district attorney’s office is going to look at the case differently. Then, if there is a conviction, the district attorney’s office will likely ask for greater jail time. The penalties increase even more for second and third or greater OUI offenses.
For a first offense OUI, Massachusetts has what’s commonly referred to as a 24D disposition, which is typically given to a person who pleads out of their case relatively early with an admission to sufficient facts and would get a continuance without a finding – known as a CWOF. A 24D disposition means the defendant is put on probation (usually for one year) and, during that time, will have to complete alcohol education driver training classes, which typically take about 16 weeks. If they successfully complete those classes and finish the probationary period with no other offenses, then a first offense OUI can result in a dismissal. A 24D disposition does still result in a loss of license; the court can take the defendant’s driver’s license for 45 to 90 days, but the person can apply to the registry for a hardship license once they show proof of enrollment in the alcohol education program.
If you are eligible for the 24D disposition, but you refused the breathalyzer, or chemical test, your license suspension will be for a period of 45-90 days on top of the 180-day refusal suspension. However, for a first-time offender, you have the opportunity under a 24D Disposition to apply for a hardship license three days after the final disposition of the case (a plea or verdict is entered).
A second offense OUI comes with a greater length of probationary period and potential penalties. The worst outcome for most second offense OUI convictions would be 30 days in the house of correction; if the defendant enters into a plea bargain, they can resolve the case with a two-week in-patient program.
If you refused the breath test for a second offense OUI, your license will be suspended for a period of three years. In Massachusetts, most drivers who are charged with a second-offense OUI are eligible for a 14-day alternative inpatient program. A person will plead guilty and automatically be sentenced to two years of probation, but if the defendant follow the terms of the program, jail time will be avoided.
If the prior OUI conviction was more than ten years before the second OUI offense, a person may be eligible for what is called a Cahill Disposition. The Cahill Disposition basically allows the second OUI offense to be treated as a first offense as under the 24D Disposition but with the understanding that the person must have an ignition interlock device installed and in place for a period of three years.
It is important to know that although the second OUI offense was treated as a first offense under the Cahill Disposition, if a person is arrested a third time for OUI, you will face third offense OUI penalties, not second offense penalties.
A third offense OUI is even more likely to result in time in the house of correction.
Penalties for a third OUI offense continue to get more severe. It is important to know as well that Massachusetts has an unlimited lookback period for prior OUI/DUI offenses. This means that it does not matter how long ago a prior OUI may have been, if you were convicted of OUI in the past, it will “count” as a prior OUI. A third OUI conviction in Massachusetts has substantial penalties, that include prison or jail time from 150 days up to 5 years – with 150 days being the mandatory minimum sentence. There is also an 8 years RMV loss of license. With the loss of license, a person has to wait 2 years to apply for a hardship license. The installation of an ignition interlock device is also required. If a person refused a breath test for a third offense OUI, that carries a 5-year loss of license.
I Don’t Think Officers Read Me My Miranda Rights When I Was Arrested for an OUI in Massachusetts. Does That Mean They Have to Drop the Charges Against Me?
In Massachusetts, Miranda Rights apply when you are subject to a custodial interrogation, so unless you are in custody and being interrogated, you really have no constitutional rights that have been violated if an officer doesn’t give you Miranda Rights. Let’s say you were arrested at the scene and are now being transported by the officer back to the police station. The officer does not ask you any questions, but you make a spontaneous or unsolicited statement about how much you’ve had to drink or what happened over the course of your evening. In this case, your rights likely have not been violated because the officer hasn’t asked you any questions. Miranda, therefore, requires being subject to a custodial interrogation, even if you make statements that are incriminating without having been given your Miranda Rights.
If you were subject to a custodial interrogation but weren’t given your Miranda Rights, you could file a motion to suppress the statements that were made without receiving the Miranda Rights. That motion, if successful, removes those statements from evidence, which doesn’t necessarily mean that a charge would be dismissed. You’ll have to look at the remaining evidence to see if there’s enough to sustain a conviction.
For more information on OUI Charges in Massachusetts, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (508) 503-6440 today.
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