Operating under the influence (OUI)—sometimes called "driving under the influence" (DUI)—is a serious violation in Massachusetts. In fact, certain circumstances can result in an OUI being a felony. This article explains how impaired driving in Massachusetts can result in felony charges.
Massachusetts has a lifetime lookback period, meaning that all prior OUI convictions within the driver's lifetime will be considered for sentencing purposes. First and second OUIs are typically misdemeanors. But where a driver has two or more prior convictions, the current offense is a felony.
A third OUI violation carries 180 days to two and one-half years in jail (or two and a half years to five years in prison), $1,000 to $15,000 in fines, an eight-year driver's license suspension, and vehicle registration revocation. The court can also order substance abuse treatment.
Similarly, a fourth OUI violation will be a felony and generally carries two to two and one-half years in jail (two and one half to five years in prison), $1,500 to $25,000 in fines, and vehicle forfeiture.
For subsequent OUI convictions, the penalties are even more severe.
Impaired driving can also lead to felony charges if the operation resulted in injury or death to another person. These felony charges and penalties can be added on top of the OUI penalties.
Serious bodily injury. Any person who is OUI and recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another will be guilty of a felony and faces six months to two and one-half years in jail (or two and one-half to ten years in prison) and up to $5,000 in fines.
Death. Negligently causing a fatality while OUI is considered "homicide-by-motor-vehicle." The convicted motorist will typically face one to two- and one-half years in jail (or two and one half to 15 years in prison) and up to $5,000 in fines. The driver's license will be revoked for at least 15 years or for life for a second offense.