Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Understanding OUI/DUI Laws in Massachusetts

Statistics from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reveal nearly 13,000 deaths and thousands of injuries happen each year due to drunk driving. In all 50 states, a blood alcohol level of 0.08% is illegal. In some states, it is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to drive with a blood alcohol level higher than zero.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws in Massachusetts are different from those in many states. Individuals found guilty of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) or OUI (Operating Under the Influence of alcohol) may spend years in prison and pay thousands of dollars in fines. A first time offender may get the minimum penalties, which include one-year probation, license suspension up to 90 days, and a mandatory 16-week drug/alcohol education program. Penalties will increase and become harsher when the blood alcohol content is more than the threshold of .08% or if a child is in the vehicle. Furthermore, Melanie’s Law in Massachusetts is one of the stiffest drunk driving legislations in the nation. On October 28, 2005, the commonwealth of Massachusetts passed Melanie's Law, which created harsher and more severe penalties for breaking drunk driving laws. The legislation was established after a 13-year-old girl was killed by a repeat OUI offender in Massachusetts. The mission of the law is to increase the penalties for OUI offenders and keep them off the highway through a state-run ignition interlock program.

Provisions and Penalties under Melanie's Law include the following:

  • Repeat offenders must have interlocking devices installed in cars they drive to prevent ignition if the driver is intoxicated.

  • Drivers face a jail penalty for tampering with an interlock device.

  • A 10-year license suspension for refusal of a Breathalyzer test if an accident results in serious bodily injury and a lifetime suspension when an accident involves a death.

  • Temporary permits are no longer issued after a license is suspended for refusing a Breathalyzer test.

  • Refusing a Breathalyzer test will result in a mandatory 24-hour vehicle impoundment of a driver's car.

  • Court records can be introduced to reveal prior convictions.

  • Motor vehicle manslaughter increases to five years in drunk driving cases.

  • A conviction of driving drunk with a suspended license yields a minimum one year in jail.

  • A new aggravated OUI offense will be charged when a defendant has a blood alcohol level of .2% or higher.

  • Mandatory lifetime license revocation for a driver who has previously been convicted of an OUI resulting in death when the driver is convicted again for driving drunk.

  • Drivers with a blood alcohol level of .15% or higher will complete a mandatory alcohol assessment.

  • Increased penalties for anyone intentionally allowing a person with a license suspension for drunken driving to operate an automobile.

Legal Advice

Individuals with OUI/DUI charges may receive severe punishments in Massachusetts. It is important to know your legal rights and options when you are facing criminal charges. Boston Criminal Defense Attorney, Edward Molari can provide you with the correct solutions and actions you need to take in your OUI/DUI case. He can explain your rights and provide personalized legal services in your case. You can contact Attorney, Edward Molari at 617-942-1532 for a free consultation.