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Is a DUI a Felony in Massachusetts?

Posted by Matthew Gilman | Sep 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

Massachusetts' DUI laws are some of the strictest in the United Sates. But, is a DUI a felony in the state of Massachusetts? We have compiled a breakdown of the different DUI offenses and whether each one is a misdemeanor or a felony.

If you were charged with a DUI in the state of Massachusetts, you should contact an attorney. Gilman Law P.C. has years of experience representing clients with OUIs and DUIs throughout Massachusetts. They can help you explore all the options available to you and help you fight for your rights.

What is a Zero Tolerance Policy?

Zero Tolerance laws mean that underage drinkers can be charged with a DUI in Massachusetts with even the smallest blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

The legal drinking age is 21 in the state of Massachusetts. Under the age of 21, you can be charged with a DUI if your BAC is 0.02 percent or higher. At this level, even the smallest amount of alcohol, such as a single light beer, can result in a DUI charge.

The purpose of Massachusetts' Zero Tolerance Law is to protect the safety of those under 21 and protect other drivers on the road. It was put in place to deter underage drinkers from getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking.

The collateral consequences of young adults charged with DUI can be vast. It is important to hire a firm like Gilman Law to protect you from the significantly harsher penalties imposed on young adults.

First Offense

A first-offense DUI in Massachusetts means that the driver has never previously been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or has never been required to complete a drug-alcohol treatment program. First-offense DUIs in Massachusetts are considered misdemeanors and the maximum jail sentence is two and a half years to the House of Correction.

Cost of Fines

The fine for a first-offense DUI is $500-$5,000. There is also an assessment fee of $250 and a $50 DUI victim fund fee. In addition, insurance rates can also increase if you are convicted of a DUI, which will add to your overall cost. Hiring an attorney for a first-offense DUI will ensure that you have the best chance at reducing your penalties.

License Suspension

In the State of Massachusetts, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV) will revoke your driver's license for one year if you are convicted of a first-offense DUI and decide not to be placed on probation. You will be eligible for a hardship license after three months.

Alternatively, first-offense OUI's can be sentenced to the 24D Disposition. In a large majority of first-offense DUI cases, the court will resolve through the 24D Program, which places you on a probation for one year and orders you to attend and complete the Driver Alcohol Education (DAE) Program. Your license will be suspended anywhere from 45-90 days. In addition to the shorter license suspension, operators are immediately eligible to apply for a hardship license.

Probation

The state of Massachusetts sometimes offers probation periods, in which a judge determines that the convicted driver would serve their time better through a probation program.  In this program, the judge can sentence a driver to certain hours of community service, the completion of a driver alcohol education or driver re-training course, or drug and alcohol treatment.

Probation can decrease the amount of time that a driver's license is suspended, making it closer to 45 to 90 days. During this time, a driver can apply at any time for a hardship license.

Second Offense

Second-offense DUIs lead to heavier penalties and punishments for convicted drivers. Drivers who have previously had one DUI conviction or program assignment can be charged with a second-offense DUI. Second-offense DUIs are still considered misdemeanors in the state of Massachusetts.

Cost of Fines

The fine for a second-offense DUI can range from $600-$10,000. This doubles the maximum penalty cost when compared to a first offense. A second-offense DUI can also result in up to $300 in fees, including the assessment fee and DUI victim fund fee.

License Suspensions

If you are convicted of a second-offense DUI in Massachusetts, your license will be suspended for two years. The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) gets notified by the court immediately after conviction.

Although the typical license suspension is two years for a second offense, the suspension can be longer if the DUI involved an accident. Any injuries, whether fatal or nonfatal, that occurred in direct result of a drunk driving accident could result in a license suspension of 10 years.

Drivers convicted of second offense DUIs can apply for a hardship license only after one full year from the conviction date. Individuals reinstating their license with two or more DUIs will need to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle.

Second First-Offense Cahill License Suspensions

If you are charged with a second-offense DUI in Massachusetts and your prior DUI conviction or program assignment is older than ten years from your most recent arrest date, you are eligible for a Cahill Disposition. If eligible, the court will treat the second-offense DUI as a first offense and you will be placed in a first-offense probation program. Your license suspension will be 45 to 90 days instead of two years. However, the RMV still requires you to maintain an IID device in your vehicle for a minimum of two years.

Probation

Judges can determine that convicted drivers would benefit better from a probation program. Probation requires convicted drivers to spend a minimum of 14 days in an alcohol rehabilitation treatment center. Upon completion, the driver will need to continue with outpatient treatment for two years.

If you receive a Cahill Disposition, you will be placed on probation for one year and ordered to attend and complete the first-offender Driver Alcohol Education (DAE) Program.

Under probation, convicted drivers will still have their license suspended, but their other penalties can be greatly reduced.

Third Offense or Higher

If a driver reaches their third offense for driving under the influence, they can be convicted of a felony in the state of Massachusetts. The punishments for third-offense DUIs dramatically increase, including longer jail sentences and heavier fines.

Cost of Fines

The minimum fine for a third offense felony DUI is $1,000. However, the cost of a fine depends on the circumstance in which the driver was convicted. DUIs that caused a great amount of damage, either to vehicles or property, can result in fines of $15,000 or more.

By hiring an attorney, convicted drivers have the best chance at reducing their fines. Experienced attorneys at Gilman Law P.C. will give you your best chance at lowering the criminal punishments for third offense DUIs.

License Suspension

Third-offense DUI convictions will result in an eight-year license suspension. However, if you refused a breathalyzer test, the suspension is for 15 years.

Seek legal representation immediately if charged with a felony DUI. Our attorneys at Gilman Law P.C. specializes in license suspensions. We know the laws in and out and can work with you to prevent a lifetime license suspension.

Can I Be Charged with a Felony for a First or Second Offense DUI?

With standard cases, most drivers will not be charged with a felony until the third DUI. However, serious cases of drivers charged with DUIs that resulted in serious injuries, fatalities, or extreme damages can still result in a felony conviction even if it is their first or second offense.

If minors are involved in the accident, especially if it results in fatalities, the chances of a first or second offense DUI becoming a felony increases dramatically. Because the court handles these situations on a case-by-case basis, you should always contact an experienced attorney even if it is your first offense.

Attorney Matthew Gilman represents clients all over the state of Massachusetts who have been charged with DUI/OUIs. Contact our Massachusetts office today for a legal consultation. Matthew can discuss your case in your own home to determine how to move forward.

About the Author

Matthew Gilman

Meet Matthew Gilman Attorney Matthew Gilman understands the difficulties his clients face when their driver's license is suspended or they are charged with an OUI/DUI.  Prior to opening his law practice, Attorney Gilman worked as a Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) hearings officer. During his t...

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