What is an OUI? And What are the Consequences?
In Massachusetts, an OUI is a criminal charge of operating under the influence of alcohol. In other states, it may be called a DUI, driving under the influence, or a DWI, driving while intoxicated.
If the police suspect a driver of drunk driving, he/she will be arrested, placed into police custody, transported to and booked at the local police station. Following the booking procedure, the driver will usually be released on bail with instructions to return to court the following business day.
At court, the accused driver will be arraigned, which is the formal reading of the Commonwealth’s charge(s). A plea of not guilty will be entered for the accused driver, who may now be referred to as the Defendant. At this point, the Defendant will be asked whether he/she will hire an attorney or represent himself/herself. Indigent individuals may be appointed an attorney if they meet certain low income qualifications. However, due to the serious consequences of these charges, I strongly recommend that all people caught in this situation hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney from a Law Firm, as soon as possible; preferably before arraignment or soon thereafter.
The potential statutory penalties depend on whether the driver has any prior convictions. For a first-time OUI, the driver may face a sentence of up to 2 ½ years in jail and loss of license for up to 1 year. For a second offense OUI, the driver will face a sentence of a minimum of 60 days in jail, up to 2 ½ years, as well as loss of license for up to 2 years. For a 3rd offense, the driver will be required to serve at least 5 months in jail, up to 5 years, with a loss of license for 8 years. For a 4th OUI, there is a minimum of 1 year in jail, up to 5 years, with a 10-year loss of license. For a 5th OUI, the minimum sentence is 2 years, with a permanent loss of license.
Depending upon the situation, certain alternative sentences may be imposed. For example, for a 1st OUI, a judge may impose an alternative sentence of a 45-day loss of license, a 1-year term of probation, statutory fines & fees, as well as an expensive 16-week drunk driver education course. For a 2nd OUI, the judge may choose to impose an alternative disposition of a 14-day in-house course, rather than incarceration. Also, if the prior conviction was more than 10 years before, the judge may treat the 2nd offense as a 1st OUI.
Although it is not against the law to drink and drive, it is against the law to drive while under the influence of liquor. In addition, a driver, who has been drinking, no matter how much, may be driving with a diminished capacity, which means he/she is a danger to himself/herself, his/her passenger(s), and anyone else on the road, whether on foot or in a car.
The simple answer to drinking and driving is very clear. If the driver has been drinking, he/she should not get behind the wheel of a car. However, if you are arrested for an OUI, pick up your phone and call an experienced attorney from a Boston Law Firm, like Attorney Elliot Savitz, at (781) 326-2700, right away.