Third Offense DUI/OUI in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is one of the strictest states when it comes to enforcement of DUIs -- also known as “OUIs” (Operating Under the “Influence”). For example, Massachusetts has an unlimited look back period. That means that any previous OUI charge will count as a prior offense. In addition, a law known as “Melanie’s Law” was enacted in 2005 to increase the OUI penalties.

Administrative Penalties

If you are convicted of a third or subsequent DUI offense, the following administrative penalties will occur:

  • Driving license is suspended for 8 years
  • A fine between $1,000-$15,000.  
  • Can obtain a “hardship license” (driving privileges for a limited time period) after 2 years 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 third or subsequent DUI offense, the following criminal penalties are possible:

  • A jail sentence of 5 months 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 90 days to 2.5 years in prison, an additional drivers’ license suspension of 1 year, and a fine of $1,000-$15,000.

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

Unlike first and second OUI offenses (without injuries) that are considered to be misdemeanors, third OUI offenses, are felonies.

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 – This does not occur often in the state of Massachusetts, as the options to reduce a 3rd DUI charge are very limited.

Obtaining Legal Help

The penalties for a third offense OUI in Massachusetts are serious, often severe, and are likely to have a lifetime effect. For that reason you may wish to seek the assistance of an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer.

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