Is There a Difference Between OUI and DUI?

Most of the country refers to a drunk driving charge as a DUI, but the state of Massachusetts refers to drivers who have a breath alcohol content of over .08 as “operating under the Influence.” Although a subtle difference, the word “operating” can also refer to running any piece of equipment while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

How is OUI Determined?

Like most states, The Bay State has an” implied consent” law when it comes to OUI, meaning that when you get a driver’s license, you consent to be tested for chemicals if a law enforcement officer suspects you of driving when you are inebriated.

Massachusetts uses breathalyzers and blood tests to determine if someone is drunk. The arresting officer determines what kind of test a suspect will take. As blood test must be performed in a lab, they take more time and cost more money than a breathalyzer. However, the popular breath test has been challenged for many years in the state’s courts. Opponents of the device say that the tests are not very accurate and not sanitary.

You do have the option of refusing a breathalyzer test in Massachusetts. However, if you do so, you will get your license suspended, have your car impounded, and be required to pay a fine.

What are the Penalties?

Massachusetts takes drunk driving seriously, and the penalties for an OUI are severe. The first time you are convicted of drunk driving you may receive fines of up to $5000, spend up to 30 days in jail, and get your license suspended for up to a year. The second strike may result in fines of up to $10,000, jail time of up to a month, and license suspension of two years. If you still drive under the influence after that, you may receive fines of up to $15,000, as much as five years of jail time, and a license suspension for 8 years. Penalties for chronic offenders can include $50,000 in fines, 5 years in jail, and permanent suspension of your license.

OUI prevention methods in Massachusetts are strengthening. There are currently several bills before the state house that would require repeat offenders to have an interlock device in their car. This device would make a vehicle inoperable if the driver is under the influence.

Should I Hire a Lawyer or Use a Public Defender

If you have been arrested for an OUI, you have the option of using a public defender. Remember that public defenders are responsible for a multitude of cases and may not be able to give you the personal attention you deserve. You need to find a Massachusetts OUI lawyer, who is experienced in traffic law, has an excellent reputation with the Bar Association, and a law degree from a top school. Finding the right lawyer can ensure you will get a fair sentence and be able to move on with your life.

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