Facing DUI Charges

If you have been pulled over by law enforcement who suspect you are operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and you “blow” over the limit, you are at the beginning of a very difficult – and dangerous – experience. If found guilty, the penalties include expensive fines, license suspension, and jail time.

Woman being pulled over by a cop

Penalties for First Time OUI in Massachusetts

The range of penalties you could face if convicted of a first-time OUI include:

  • Fines ranging from $500 to $5,000
  • Prison time up to 2 ½ years
  • One-year license suspension
  • A three month “wait period” before the right to a hardship license

Your options after a first-time OUI

A first-time offender who does not have a prior OUI and has not caused a collision, injuries, or had a child in the vehicle, has the ability for an alternative called a 24D Disposition. This option is called a 24D after the section in which it appears in Massachusetts law. This alternative can make it possible to avoid the more serious consequences of a conviction. It is imperative to ensure you have the support of an experienced impaired driving defense lawyer in Massachusetts to help you pursue this alternative. 

Whether you are eligible for a 24D Disposition is up to the discretion of the judge in your case. If the prosecutor agrees to this alternative, the judge usually will honor the agreement.

 The OUI case is “continued without a finding,” allowing the accused driver to avoid many of the most serious consequences of a criminal conviction. The alternative penalties include:

  • License suspension for a minimum of 45 to a maximum 90 days (under 21 drivers – 210 days)
  • A three-day wait to acquire a hardship license
  • Mandatory attendance (and completion) of an alcohol education program
  • Up to two years of supervised probation
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Mandatory alcohol education

The mandatory alcohol education program is delivered by a public or private out-patient clinic, hospital, employer, or union-sponsored program, self-help group, or any other organization, facility, or service, approved by the Department of Public Health. Those who can’t afford to pay the fee for the program must file an “affidavit of indigency” within ten days. These programs involve 40 hours of alcohol education, spanning 16 weeks, at a cost about $600.

Even with the requirement for attendance in an approved program, the consequences are far less serious than a criminal conviction for OUI. A 24D Disposition makes it possible to avoid having an OUI conviction on your criminal record. However, if you are arrested for a similar offense in the future, the initial OUI will be considered a prior offense.

    Refusing the breath test when stopped by the police

    While you have a right to refuse a breath or blood test, this decision affects the legal right to drive. The legal limit in MA, along with other states, is .08 BAC (blood alcohol content). This BAC level can register after just two beers. If law enforcement claims you did not deliver enough breath into the unit to register on the testing unit, they will consider the test a “refusal,” and your license will be suspended or revoked, with no notification period. While refusing the test is not a criminal offense, you will lose your right to drive immediately.  The driver’s license suspension period for a person with no previous convictions for OUI is 180 days. If you have a prior conviction, refusing the test could involve years of driver’s license revocation. 

    Man driving a car at sunset

    Defense strategiesfor a first-time OUI

    An arrest for OUI is usually a very stressful experience. While you are innocent until proven guilty, it won’t feel that way. As a defendant, you have rights. Exercise your right to remain silent, and your right to an impaired driving defense attorney in MA. Don’t try to explain, argue, or discuss the situation with law enforcement personnel – it can backfire. Step one is to contact Gilman Law as soon as you are granted phone access.

    Illegal stop

    To be pulled over, law enforcement must suspect you were involved in some type of criminal activity, or you have violated a traffic law. If you were pulled over without “probable cause,” and your defense attorney can prove the fact, your case will be dismissed.

    Faulty testing unit or procedure

    Breath testing units are man-made devices, and as such, can fail. Breath testing devices may not have been properly calibrated, maintained, or the breath test may have been administered incorrectly. All of the details of what occurred must be fully reviewed by your OUI defense attorney to discover any departures from standard protocols.

    Field sobriety testingfailed to prove OUI

    Field sobriety testing is not infallible, and a person could fail to successfully perform a “one-leg stand” and other tests for many reasons other than consuming alcohol, including medical conditions, age, anxiety, fatigue, poorly delivered instructions, of body weight. 

    You were not driving impaired

    Other evidence may support that you were not driving under the influence of alcohol, such as pulling over swiftly and correctly, handing the officer your license and registration immediately, answering questions coherently, and acting in a reasonable and respectful demeanor. 

    Faulty blood testing

    If you are suspected of over being under the influence of drugs, a blood test may be administered. The chain of custody of the sample, the blood testing procedure, and other lab errors may be identified when the facts are investigated.

    Errors in DRE evaluation

    If arrested for being under the influence of drugs, after alcohol impairment has been ruled out, the evaluation can be challenged by your attorney as failing to prove drug intoxication.

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    Why choose Gilman Law for a first-time OUI?

    Gilman Law is one of the largest driver’s license suspension defense law firms in Massachusetts. The firm offers flat fee representation for many services, payment plans, and often gets to work on an OUI case the same day. The firm performs all the administrative work with the RMV, fighting to get drivers back behind the wheel, efficiently and legally.

    Our founder, Matthew Gilman, formerly served as an RMV Hearing Officer. He understands that RMV Hearing Officers serve as judge, jury, and prosecutor when it comes to license suspension. Mr. Gilman’s experience on “the other side” has given him deep insight into how to navigate the RMV for the benefit of his clients. The firm is widely known as the “go-to” law firm for OUI defense and license suspension or revocation.

    A road surrounded by trees at fall

    Get back behind the wheel.

    At Gilman Law, we value honesty, and you can trust your attorney to tell you exactly what to expect. We do flat fee cases and will not drag out the legal process by billing hourly to try to make more profit. We have integrity. We work hard, respect our clients, and speak with them honestly. For assistance on an OUI charge in Massachusetts, contact us immediately after an arrest for a free case evaluation.

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