If we were asked what a crime is, most of us would probably say something like burglary or battery. But, another offense is also considered a crime and carries with it very serious consequences: Operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI). Individuals arrested for OUI face stiff costs and significant penalties.
Basics of OUI
Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal for an individual to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. In addition, it is against the law to drive while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or other narcotic drugs. It is important to keep in mind that, even if an individual is below the legal limit to drive, it is always best to use a designated driver or other form of transportation. For an individual under the age of 21, the maximum BAC level is 0.02%, which is considered a zero-tolerance level. For commercial drivers, the maximum level is 0.04%.
An individual convicted of OUI will be assessed a fine of not less than $500, up to $5,000. Additionally, the individual may face a jail sentence of up to two and a half years. It is within the court’s discretion to decide whether the sentence can be served on weekends, evenings, or holidays. For example, the judge can allow a person to work during the weekday and serve his or her jail sentence on the weekend.
In addition to the above punishments, an individual may also have his or her driver’s license suspended for one year. However, an ignition interlock device (IID) is not required for a first offense in Massachusetts. An IID is a mechanism attached to a vehicle to prevent the car from starting if the person exhales into it and the breath-alcohol concentration analyzed is too high.
Importantly, Massachusetts is an implied consent state, which means a refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in a fine and automatic license suspension (for a first offense, this period is 180 days). In other words, by driving, an individual has indicated that he or she will submit to a test if requested to take one by a police officer.
According to Massachusetts law, an OUI that results in the serious bodily injury of another person is punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and a jail term of not less than six months, with a maximum of two and a half years. Alternatively, a convicted individual can be sentenced to a state prison term of not less than two and a half years, up to ten years, with the same $5,000 maximum fine. Serious bodily injury is an injury that causes the chance of death to be substantial. Alternatively, it also occurs if the injury causes total disability or for a bodily function to be lost for a substantial period of time.
Protecting Your Rights
If you have been arrested for suspicion of OUI, you still have a right to defend yourself. For more information, contact Boston criminal defense attorney Edward R. Molari today. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at 617-942-1532.