Second Offense DUI/OUI in Massachusetts

Unlike many states, Massachusetts has an unlimited look back period. That means that any previous OUI (Operating Under the Influence) charge will count as a prior offense. In addition, a law known as “Melanie’s Law” was enacted in 2005 to increase the penalties of Massachusetts’ OUI laws.

Administrative Penalties

If you are convicted of a second DUI.OUI offense, the following administrative penalties will occur:

  • Driving license is suspended for 1 year.
  • A fine between $600-$10,000.  
  • Can only obtain a “hardship license” (driving privileges for a limited time period for driving to work) after 1 year from the conviction.
  • An ignition interlock device provided at your own expense is required to regain your license.

Criminal Penalties

If you are convicted of a second DUI offense, the following criminal penalties are possible:

  • A jail sentence ranging from 30 days to 2.5 years.  
  • You will be charged with Child Endangerment if a person under the age of 14 is in the vehicle with you at the time of your arrest, which can add 3 months to 2.5 years in prison, an additional drivers’ license suspension of 1 year, and a fine of $1,000-$5,000.

The Look-back Period

Massachusetts has what is known as a “lifetime look-back” period which means that if you have committed previous OUI offenses at any time, you are now a repeat offender. Even if a judge considers you a first offender for purposes of criminal charges, the Registry of Motor Vehicles is not bound by the judge's ruling. As an example, if your previous offense was in a different state, the RMV can consider it a second offense for purposes of license suspension.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor in Massachusetts

First and second offenses without injuries are misdemeanors.  However, if there are injuries resulting from a DUI, the crime is a felony, even if it’s only your first or second DUI offense.

Plea Options

The individual can do any of the following:

  • Plead Guilty – the individual admits to everything with which he/she is charged and will accept whatever penalty the court imposes.
  • Plead Not Guilty – the individual does not admit to anything with which he/she is charged and challenges the State of Massachusetts to meet its burden of proof.
  • Plea Bargaining – For a second offense, you can sometimes plea bargain for a 2-week hospitalization and a 2-year license loss.

Obtaining Legal Help

Because the penalties are severe for a second offense OUI, you may wish to seek the assistance of an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer.

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