I have been charged with my first OUI / DUI offense. What are the possible penalties I am facing?

There may be no more complicated law in Massachusetts than the OUI / DUI laws. The law is long and often requires that you flip back and forth between sections in order to get a complete picture of what is at stake. When we speak about what is at stake, we are not just discussing whether there you could be sent to jail. There are significant consequences related to your drivers license that depend on the outcome of your case. Attorney Gilman is available 24/7 at (978) 612-6447 to speak with you about your case and help you understand all the possible consequences of your case.

Criminal Penalties: The law does permit the court to sentence individuals who are convicted or plea to a first offense OUI / DUI  to up to 2.5 years in the House of Correction,  a fine between $500.00 to $5000.00 or to do both. However, most first offense OUI / DUI convictions do not result in a jail sentence. Most first offense OUI / DUI convictions or pleas result in the court imposing an alternative resolution that is provided for in Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 90, § 24D.

24D Alternative Disposition: The most common disposition imposed by courts across the Commonwealth on first offense OUI / DUI cases is the 24D Program. Under the 24D Program, individuals are placed on probation for up to 2 years and ordered to complete the Driver Alcohol Education (DAE) Program. The Driver Alcohol Education Program is a class that meets once a week for sixteen weeks. The weekly meetings are approximately 90 minutes. In addition to the program requirement, the court will suspend your right to operate a motor vehicle for 45 to 90 days. This license suspension will be added on to any suspension you are currently serving for refusing the breath test.

If you are assigned to the 24D Program there are significant fees and fines that the court will impose. Attorney Gilman has had success in having some of the fees and fines waived but some cannot be waived. 

  • $65 per month Probation Supervision Fee;
  • $250 Head Injury Assessment;
  • $250 24D Program Fee;
  • $50.00 Victims of Drunk Driving Fee;
  • Driver Alcohol Education Program Fee.

Most courts will require the fees and fines be paid in monthly installments during the probation period.

License Suspension Consequences: Unless you are assigned to the 24D alternative disposition, you will face a one-year license suspension. By statute, if your license is suspended for one year, you are not eligible to apply for any hardship relief or work license until three months following your conviction. If the court assigns you to the 24D Program you will have a license suspension of between 45 and 90 days. Those who are assigned to the 24D program are immediately eligible to apply for a 12 hours hardship license or work license. These license suspension periods are limited to the OUI / DUI conviction. If you refused the breath test, any court imposed license suspension will be added to the breath test refusal suspension. 

  • For example, a person with no prior OUI / DUI convictions or assignments to any substance abuse treatment program who is arrested for OUI / DUI will in most instances be offered a chemical breath test at the police station. You have every right to refuse to take this test and the Commonwealth is not permitted to introduce any evidence of your refusal at trial. However, if you do refuse the test your drivers license will be suspended for 180 days (if you have no prior convictions). Assume that two months have passed and you decide you want to resolve the case and get the alternative 24D disposition. The court will impose a license suspension of 45-90 days. The Registry of Motor Vehicles when it receives the case disposition will add this 45-90 day suspension to the end of what remains of the 180-day license suspension.

How to Get a Hardship License: If you have been convicted or plea to a first offense OUI / DUI and you have no prior OUI / DUI convictions or program assignments you are eligible to apply for a Hardship License. A Hardship License is commonly known as a work license or Cinderella license. In Massachusetts a Hardship License allows you to drive during a 12-hour window. This 12-hour window does not change day to day but allows you to operate 7 days a week during the time period. To be eligible to apply you must meet the following steps:

Step 1: Your criminal matter must be resolved and the final disposition/resolution information must be sent to the Registry of Motor Vehicles;

Step 2: You must complete the Driver Alcohol Education Program Intake Process and obtain Enrollment Verification; 

Step 3: You must obtain documentation that shows the license suspension has caused you. The Registry of Motor Vehicles has very limited grounds it will consider granting a Hardship License for and very strict requirements on the documentation that is necessary to satisfy the showing of the hardship; and

Step 4: You must go to a Registry of Motor Vehicles Branch where a Hearing Officer is located and request to have a hearing. At the hearing, the Hearing Officer will review your hardship/work documentation to ensure it meets the RMV's requirements as well as the Program Enrollment Verification. A Hearing Officer is under no obligation to grant anyone a Hardship License. The decision is completely discretionary.

When you are charged with your first OUI / DUI it is important to have an Attorney on your side who understands both the possible criminal penalties but also the license suspension ramifications. As a Criminal Defense Attorney and Former Hearings Officer, Attorney Gilman understands how challenging it can be to get all the information you need. Attorney Gilman travels across the Commonwealth to represent clients faced a first offense OUI / DUI charges and license suspensions. Contact Gilman Law, P.C. to speak directly with Attorney Gilman and schedule a free consultation today.