OUI (First Offense)
In Massachusetts the legal term for a drunk driving charge is an OUI, or Operating Under the Influence. In common practice, “OUI”, “DUI”, and “DWI” are often used interchangeably. They all refer to being caught behind the wheel while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And, no matter what you call it, they all carry fairly harsh potential penalties.Criminal Charge in Massachusetts? Call (781) 817-6332.
Being charged with OUI for the first time can be an extremely stressful and intimidating experience. But with an experienced, local Massachusetts DUI attorney on your side, you can take some comfort that someone is fighting on your behalf.
Whatever happened that led to you being pulled over and eventually arrested, it’s a problem that you now have to deal with. But you don’t have to do it alone.
You can be charged with OUI if your blood alcohol content is over .08% or if your driving behavior and other indications show you to be impaired.
Massachusetts OUI Penalties – First Offense
The penalties for your first DUI are not minor. If convicted, the maximum sentence you can serve up to 2 ½ years in prison and be ordered to pay up to $5,000 in fines. Your license can also be suspended for up to 1 year.
Practically speaking, these maximum penalties almost never come into play. But the penalties are still considerable, including license loss and fees and fines that can total $2500.
Other facts can add additional charges, like child endangerment if you are arrested for an OUI with a child under 14 years old in the car.
Your options at this point are to try to fight the OUI charges, and beat the case, or work out a deal.
Fighting the charges is a good option in many cases (especially on a second or greater offense). But it requires a thorough case evaluation, and an informed decision about what you are up against. But OUI cases in Massachusetts are absolutely winnable.
If you decide you want to work out a deal, as most people end up deciding, there are some options to consider, and important value your lawyer can provide.
For a first offense OUI, most judges and prosecutors will agree to a plea of Continuance Without Finding (CWOF). This means you won’t have to be technically guilty of a crime, although the finding stays on your record. You will face the following penalties:
- 1 year probation
- License suspension for 45-90 days
- 16 week mandatory drug & alcohol education program
Massachusetts also has a provision for a hardship license, allowing you to get to and from work when your license has been otherwise suspended (if you qualify). The availabilty of a hardship license, to get you back on the road within a week of your court date, is the key reason most people decide to work out a deal.
Fighting a case at trial certainly has advantages, especially if you have a very winnable case. But the unfortunate fact is that you can’t get a hardship license before your case is resolved, so you will likely be without a driver’s license for 6 months or more. For people who simply can’t survive without the ability to drive for that long, a first offense OUI plea makes sense for them.
Ref: MGL §90-24
A CWOF is typically only possible when there has been no accident and no additional criminal charges filed with the DUI. Having handled numerous first-time DUI cases in Massachusetts, I know what you’re up against. Contact me immediately to discuss the charges against you and your potential of getting a CWOF.
Despite how it feels, being charged with an OUI is not the end of the world. You will get through this and I can help make sure you get the best results possible on your case. Call me now for a free consultation.
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