Can I Avoid a Permanent Criminal Record on My First Offense OUI?
We have handled hundreds of first offense OUI charges in every county of Massachusetts. Although it may not feel like it at the moment, being charged with an OUI is not the end of the world.
We can help you get the best possible result. Most of the time, we can negotiate a plea that will avoid a permanent criminal record.
Often times, most people charged with their first OUI have no prior involvement with the criminal justice system and do not know what to expect or what to do to protect their rights.
Very often, our clients are people who have just been arrested and have an arraignment the next day the court is open. Many have been to court once (usually an arraignment) and need to know what the next steps are.
Others have a current attorney that isn't aggressive or competent enough, or won't call them back, and are looking to find another option to defend them. On occasion, a person may even receive a clerk magistrate's hearing.
No matter what your situation, we have been there and we can help.
I Want to Move On (Alternative or “24D” Disposition)
Entering into a "plea bargain" on a first offense OUI is nothing to be ashamed of and is often the wisest choice.
OUI First is a misdemeanor offense and it is very likely that we can negotiate an agreement with the prosecution that will avoid a permanent criminal record and get you back on the road within days of the plea.
This will even save you money at the RMV when it is time to get your license back.
We recommend this most often when there is a good stop and/or arrest (from a constitutional perspective) with strong evidence of all the elements of the offense.
An example would be someone who was seen by the police or others driving unsafely (e.g., swerving between lanes, speeding, inappropriate breaking) and ultimately failed the breathalyzer by blowing at or above over the legal limit of .08 BAC.
In other words, you made a mistake and they caught you. It's time to take the hit and move on.
So, what can you expect if you decide to enter into a plea on a first offense OUI? It's called a "24D" disposition, which is a reference to the statute, G.L. c. 90, §24D. Typically, it involves:
- You would admit that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol, but you are not found guilty. In court, it's called an "admission to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty".
- Instead of being found guilty, you are placed on probation for a period of one year (sometimes less). In court, this is called a "continuation without a finding" because the charge is continued without a finding of guilty.
- During that year, in addition to paying the fines and fees that will be imposed, you will have to enter into a 16-week alcohol education program (or controlled substance treatment program), which involves one 2-hour class each week.
- You will receive a 45 days loss of license (210 days for drivers under age 21). However, once you enroll in the alcohol education class, you will be eligible for a "hardship" license", which will allow you to drive 12-hours a day for the purposed of school or education.?
- At the end of the year, assuming all of the terms of probation have beem satisfied, the charges are dismissed and you will have no convictions on your record.
Of course, each case is unique and there may be factors that would make the 24D disposition more difficult to get on a first offense OUI. Please contact us for an opinion specific to your case.
First Offense DUI FAQ
Honestly, the maximum sentence for a first offense OUI is rarely in play, but for your information:
»Sentencing: Up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections
»License suspension: 1 year; work and education hardship eligibility after 6 months; general hardship after 9 months
»Fines/fees: $800-$5300, plus $65/month probation fee
Again, you don't need to worry about the maximum penalties for an OUI first offense!
License Suspension for Refusal of Breathalyzer:
»180 day license suspension, with hardship eligibility after a "24D Disposition" (in addition to the 45 day loss of license imposed for the alternative disposition)
»This suspension can be lifted upon acquittal (when a jury or judge finds you Not Guilty)
Penalties for Failure of Breathalyzer:
»Immediate loss of license for 30 days, lifted upon trial or plea (meaning if you enter into the 24D disposition, this suspension goes away!)
»Automobile impounded for 12 hours
»BAC of .08 or higher “per se” violation of statute (meaning your defenses are much more limited)
If you're under 21 and caught driving under the influence for the first time, prepare yourself to lose your right to drive for a while.
Enhanced Penalties for Under Age 21:
Refusal to Take Breathalyzer:
»3 year loss of license
»Separate 180 day loss of license under §24P, which may be avoided upon completion of juvenile alcohol program
Failure of Breathalyzer:
»Immediate loss of license for 30 days, lifted upon trial or plea
»If over a .02 BAC, a separate 180 day loss of license under §24P
»If BAC is .20 or higher, no 24D is available and Defendant must attend 14 day rehabilitation program
»210 day license suspension, even with §24D program, but 12 hour hardship upon enrollment
A conviction of DUI in Massachusetts or a refusal of the a breathalyzer test will result in a 1 year suspension of your CDL license. G.L. c.90F, §9.
»This applies even if you were not driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the offense.
»There is also a 1 year suspension for driving a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol content of over .04.
»Since these penalties are based upon federal law, any out of state OUI conviction and/or refusal will carry the same consequences to your CDL license as if the offense happened in Massachusetts.