Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Recent Changes in Massachusetts OUI Law


In April of 2018, Governor Baker signed a bill into law which made several significant changes to various elements of the Massachusetts Criminal Justice System. One of the changes created by this new law regards individuals in Massachusetts who are charged with OUI (operating under the influence). The motivation to sign these various new laws was to help to reduce the number of individuals who are sent to prison. In reality, though, many of these changes will create additional obstacles in OUI cases, it is more important than ever that individuals who are charged with these offenses obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Increased Penalties for Some OUI Offenses

The new Massachusetts law increases the penalties for an individual who is convicted of five or more OUI offenses. While a fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth OUI conviction will now result in a required prison sentence of two and a half years as well as a $2,000 fine, a ninth or subsequent conviction will result in a person facing a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of at least $2,000.

New Law Involving Intoxicating Fumes

Before this new law, Massachusetts law stated that OUIs could be based on allegations of an individual who was under the influence of three substances - alcohol, ingested drugs, or the vapors of glue. The new Massachusetts law, however, replaces the vapors of glue category with the fumes of any substances that has the ability to release toxic vapors. As a result, a person can face penalties if he or she operates a vehicle while intoxicated from any type of toxic vapors.

Pre-Trial Detention for Motorists Charged with OUI Third Offenses

For motorists who are charged with a third OUI conviction, new Massachusetts law explains that prosecutors are now allowed to seek pre-trial detention on the basis of a perceived danger to either an individual or the surrounding community. Previously, detention was only capable of being initiated if a person had three previous OUI convictions.

Reduced Standard for Waiver in First Offender OUI Programs

Individuals who are required to attend an OUI first offenders program will now have an easier time obtaining a waiver for the charges associated with these programs. Before this new law, a judge was only able to waive the charge for these programs if the person required to attend the program could establish significant hardship in paying this amount. The new standard in obtaining waivers is if requiring the person to pay the amount would experience substantial financial hardship.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

These various changes to Massachusetts law mean that it will harder to make sure that an OUI case resolves in a positive manner. As a result, if you are charged with OUI in the state of Massachusetts, it is a wise idea to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer like Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law. Speak with our office today to schedule an initial free consultation.