Massachusetts DUI/OUI Laws and Penalties

Learn what constitutes a DUI/OUI in Massachusetts and the consequences of a conviction.

Although Massachusetts officially uses the term "operating under the influence" (OUI), many people nevertheless refer to the offense as "driving under the influence" (DUI). Here, we use the terms interchangeably.

The penalties you'll face for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Massachusetts depend primarily on how many prior convictions you have.

This article covers how Massachusetts law defines operating under the influence and the penalties for a first, second, and third conviction.

Massachusetts's DUI Law

Massachusetts prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle in any public place:

A driver is considered "under the influence" if his or her ability to operate a vehicle is diminished by the consumption of a substance. "Operation" of a vehicle doesn't necessarily require a running engine or actual movement.

DUI/OUI Penalties in Massachusetts

OUI penalties depend on the circumstances of the current offense and the number of prior OUI convictions on the driver's record.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

Up to 2 ½ years

60 days to 2 ½ years (minimum 30 days served)

180 days to 2 ½ years jail or 2 ½ to 5 years prison (minimum 150 days served)

Fines

$500 to $5,000

$600 to $10,000

$1,000 to $15,000

License Revocation

1 year

2 years

8 years

DUI Probation and Alternate Dispositions in Massachusetts

A first or second OUI offender can avoid many of the normal penalties by entering into a probation agreement.

For a first OUI, the driver must complete one year of probation, a driver alcohol education course, and possibly drug and alcohol treatment. The driver's license will be suspended for 45 to 90 days (210 days if the driver is under 21 years old). The court can also order up to 30 hours of community service. Successful completion of the probation period can result in the dismissal of the charges. A driver with only one prior offense that occurred more than ten years ago may be eligible for first-offense probation.

A second OUI offender is eligible for probation but must serve 14 days of inpatient treatment, followed by outpatient treatment and two years of probation.

Enhanced OUI Penalties for Child Passengers

OUI incidents that involve a passenger under the age of 14 years old can result in child endangerment charges. A conviction carries $1,000 to $5,000 in fines, 90 days to two and a half years in jail, and a one-year license suspension.

Substance Abuse Treatment for OUI Convictions

Drivers who are impaired by drugs or inhalants may be required by a judge to complete a substance abuse education program or treatment.

License-Related Penalties for a Massachusetts OUI

Massachusetts's "implied consent" law requires all Massachusetts drivers who are lawfully arrested for operating under the influence to consent to a blood or breath test to determine the presence of impairing substances. An unlawful refusal or failed test (BAC of .08% or more) will result in the Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV) suspending the driver's license.

License Suspension for Refusing Alcohol Testing in Massachusetts

For refusals, the RMV will suspend the driver's license for 180 days (three years if under 21 years old) for a first offense, three years for a second offense, and five years for a third offense.

License Suspension for Failing an Alcohol Test in Massachusetts

If the driver submits to testing and produces a BAC of at least .08%, the RMV will suspend the driver's license for up to 30 days or until the OUI charge is resolved.

Getting a Hardship License After a DUI Suspension in Massachusetts

Unless suspended for a test refusal, suspended and revoked drivers are eligible to apply for a hardship license after completing a portion of the suspension. Depending on the situation, an ignition interlock device (IID) might be a condition of obtaining a hardship license. Depending on the circumstances, a hardship license will allow the motorist to drive during a set 12-hour period or to and from work and school.

Massachusetts's Ignition Interlock Requirements

Apart from the IID requirements for a hardship license, drivers are required to have an IID for two years following license reinstatement.

Underage OUI Laws in Massachusetts

Motorists who are under the age of 21 and are caught driving with a BAC of at least .02% but less than .08% will be subject to special penalties even if not convicted of a standard OUI.

An underage driver who submits to chemical testing and produces a BAC of at least .02% faces a 180-day suspension (one year if under the age of 18). This suspension can be waived if the driver completes the Youth Alcohol Program.

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