Third Offense OUI in Massachusetts
What Are the Consequences of a Third DUI Conviction?
Things have just gotten very serious. A third offense OUI conviction cannot be explained away as a simple mistake like an OUI 1st, nor is it still a misdemeanor offense like an OUI 2nd.
If convicted of DUI for a third time, you will
- do a minimum of 6 months in jail;
- be labelled a felon;
- and lose your license to drive for at least 8 years (with hardship eligibility after 2 years);
- if you refused the breathalyzer, add 5 years to your license suspension with no hardship eligibility.
As a felony, depending on the facts of your case and your criminal record, it is possible that you could be indicted by a grand jury and have your case proceed in the Superior Court instead of the District Court. If so, this exposes you to a State Prison sentence of up to 8 years.
So, where does that leave you? What are your options on an OUI 3rd charge?
Is a Plea Bargain Possible on my Third OUI Charge?
Pleading guilty to an OUI 3rd is rarely a viable option because you will still be sentenced to a minimum of 180 days in jail. Unless there is a significant risk of being sentenced to more than that after a trial (such as with a significant criminal record), then the cost-benefit analysis says take it to trial and take a shot at a not guilty, regardless of the facts.
A plea is still a possibility, but the prosecutor must agree to amend the Third Offense OUI charge down to a Second Offense OUI, which many simply will not do as a matter of policy.
It is sometimes possible where there are many years since the last offense and there is no other significant criminal record. It becomes more likely if we can emphasize your better characteristics (involvement in the community, family man or woman, character letters, etc.), but is a tough sell to both the ADA and the judge.
Another way a criminal defense attorney can increase the chances of getting a third OUI "amended down" is to attack the government's case during the pre-trial stages of the case (as we do in every case that gets that far). If successful, it may raise doubt as to the strength of the prosecution's case and bring them to the table.
OUI cases give rise to frequent recurring issues that might be exploited:
- Are there sufficient facts alleged in the complaint or indictment to meet the elements of the offense. (e.g., evidence of you driving, or public way).
- Are there any Search and Seizure, Miranda or Right to Counsel issues, allowing for a Motion to Suppress evidence or a Motion to Dismiss.
- Were the Field Sobriety tests conducted correctly? Was the breathalyzer administered properly?
- Can the prosecution prove the prior offenses? Very often they're old and difficult to document.
Trial of an OUI Third Case
Naturally, a plea bargain is not always possible or even what we want, and the case must be taken to trial. Trials are won with preparation, experience, communication and an ability to think on your feet in the midst of a fluid, stressful and often acrimonious setting.
Evidence can still be excluded under the rules of evidence and procedure and it is crucial for your criminal defense attorney to make timely objections, at the risk of inadmissible evidence being offered against you and failng to preserve the record.
If evidence comes in, it must be attacked at every opportunity. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will often be able to decimate the credibility of government witnesses on cross-examination and offer ounter-evidence in support of your innocence. All of this must be done in a way that lends credibility to you and your defense in front of the jury that will ultimately decide your fate.
At Equitas Law, our attorneys have handled hundreds of serious felony cases such as Third Offense OUI all over Massachusetts. You may feel overwhelmed at the moment, but we can help you get the best possible result.
Third Offense DUI FAQ
An ignition interlock device or breath alcohol ignition interlock device (IID) is basically a breathalyzer for an person's vehicle. It requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting the vehicle and prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over a pre-set limit.
License Suspension for Refusal of Breathalyzer:
In addition to the suspension for a plea or guilty finding:
»5-year license suspension; no hardship eligibility
»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 alternative 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)
Whether the maximum sentence for a third offense OUI is in play depends on your criminal history and the facts of your case: For your information:
»Sentencing: Not less than 180 days nor more than 2.5 years in the House of Corrections, or 2.5 to 5 years in State Prison; (150 day minimum mandatory)
»License suspension: 8 years; work and education hardship eligibility after 2 years; general hardship after 4 years. Hardship license requires an ignition interlock device
»Fines/fees:$1,000-$15,000, plus $65/month probation fee
Call or text now to see where you stand!
If you're under 21 and caught driving under the influence for the third time, prepare yourself for some very serious consequences.
Enhanced Penalties for Under Age 21:
Refusal to Take Breathalyzer:
»5 year loss of license; no hardship eligibility
»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 you're convicted of a third offense OUI in Massachusetts, or refuse a breathalyzer test after having a prior OUI conviction, you will likely face a lifetime suspension of your CDL license. 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.
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