Drunk Driving, OUI & DWI
Drunk driving is operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, narcotics, depressants or stimulants, or glue vapors (OUI). Other terms, often used in other states, are Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving while Under the Influence (DUI). All mean the same thing.
When alcohol is consumed, it takes time for the body to process it. As a result, alcohol can stay in the bloodstream for some time. Different factors, such as body weight, amount of alcohol and length of time you’ve been drinking, the amount of food eaten before or at the same time as the alcohol, and other factors can influence how long alcohol stays in the body.
The legal limit of alcohol in the body, measured by Blood Alcohol Content or BAC, is 0.08 for an adult. Anyone under 21 will be charged with OUI if a BAC is 0.02 or higher. A 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, or a 1-ounce serving of liquor can all increase a BAC by 0.02. The more you drink in an hour, the higher your BAC will be. Only time can lower your BAC level—drinking coffee or other remedies will not lower a BAC before the body has time to process alcohol.
A Breathalyzer test measures the amount of alcohol in your body. You blow into a tube attached to a machine, and an infrared light analyzes the amount of alcohol in the air in your lungs, and prints out a BAC number. The machine then tests your breath a second time, and if the numbers are within .02 of each other, the test is considered valid. If you refuse a Breathalyzer test, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for 120 days for a first offense, 180 days for a second offense, and a year for a third offense.
What happens at a drunk driving arrest in Massachusetts?
First, the arrested person is arraigned. After the person has paid, or someone else has paid that person’s bail, the defendant is given a date to appear in court to formally hear the charges against him or her and to enter a plea. This is the date of that person’s arraignment. If no bail has been paid, the accused is brought to court on the next business day.
Next, if you didn’t pass the breathalyzer test, your license is suspended for 30 days, or if you refused the test, it is suspended for 180 days. A pre-trial conference, where you are offered a plea bargain, will take place several weeks later. Discuss with your attorney about whether to take it or not. If you do, you will be sentenced soon after. If you don’t, your case will go to trial.
Your attorney can file motions to obtain documents that can help strengthen your case when it goes to trial. If you win at trial, your case is over. If you don’t, you’ll appear at a sentencing hearing. Sentencing can include jail time, community service, classes, and fines.
Possible penalties if you are found guilty of OUI in Massachusetts
- For the first offense, jail time up to 2½ years , a fine of $500-$5,000, license suspension for up to one year, an increase in insurance rates, probation, and/or drug and alcohol classes.
- For the second offense, jail time of 30 days to 2½ years, a fine of $600-$1,000, license suspension for up to two years, and a requirement to install your car with an interlock device, which disables the car’s ignition if your BAC is 0.02 or above, probation, and/or inpatient admission to an alcohol treatment program.
- For the third offense, jail time up to five years, fine of up to $15,000, license suspension for eight years, and/or the Commonwealth of Mass. may take your vehicle from you and sell it.
- For the fourth offense, jail time up to five years, fine up to $25,000, license suspension for ten years.
- For the fifth offense, jail time up to five years, fine of up to $50,000, permanent license revocation.
Common mistakes made after being arrested for a OUI or DWI
- Treating the charge lightly. If found guilty, a conviction will affect your driving habits, your insurance rates, and you could go to jail. Skipping out on court time will bring a jail sentence as well.
- Driving with a suspended license. Doing so can land you in jail.
- Discussing the case with anyone but your attorney. Anything you say might be used against you in court.
- Not hiring the best attorney for your case.
Your right to drive is critical to earning a living for yourself and your family. If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense such as the ones below, it is important to seek reputable legal representation immediately to learn your rights and how to protect them. Discuss your case only in the presence of an attorney, and be certain to hire an experienced attorney who is dedicated to achieving your best possible outcome considering the circumstances of your case.
In Massachusetts, drinking while still in high school is a common problem: about 314,000 teens said they drank each year. In 2007, teens drank 15.4 percent of all alcohol sold in the state that year. This amounted to $748 million in sales and $367 million in alcohol industry profits. Underage drinking can contribute to homicide, suicide, traumatic injury, drowning, burns, violent and property crime, high risk sex, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol poisoning, and need for treatment for alcohol abuse and dependence.
It is illegal for anyone under age 21 to have alcohol, buy or sell alcohol, use a fake ID to obtain alcohol, or operate a motor vehicle while under the influence. Penalties for motor vehicle operation while intoxicated or impaired include arrest, fines, license suspension, and possible jail time. Other charges that happen in tandem with alcohol use can include refusing to take a Breathalyzer test, having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle to endanger, leaving the scene of an accident when someone has been injured, and motor vehicle homicide.
At Altman & Altman in Cambridge, Massachusetts, our successful OUI defense lawyers have more than 50 years of experience, and take the time necessary to gather all the facts of your case and advise your of your rights and your defense options. Our drunk driving defense attorneys will try your case in court when a trial is in your best interests. They will thoroughly investigate your case and explore all avenues of defense, including obtaining expert opinions when necessary on breathalyzer and field sobriety tests. For an effective OUI defense and free case evaluation, contact an OUI defense lawyer at Altman & Altman.