Felony OUI Laws in Massachusetts

Important! If you have been convicted of 2 prior OUIs, including an order for alcohol treatment, your 3rd offense will be charged as a felony.

If you have been arrested or charged for operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Massachusetts, you are likely scared at this point and anxious about what will happen next. There are several competing questions that you need answers to, now. You already know you need an attorney, but know also that the right kind of lawyer is crucial to a successful defense in any OUI case. Here are some basic answers and information to get you started, with the understanding that each individual’s case is unique, and that the following is provided for general informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice; nor create an attorney-client privilege.

Is an OUI a felony or a misdemeanor in MA?

Mass law finds all first and second OUI offenses to be misdemeanors. Again we have to stress the fact that if you have been convicted of two prior OUIs, including an order for alcohol treatment, your third offense will be charged as a felony.

The importance of understanding the charging laws for operating/driving under the influence in MA cannot be overstated. The Commonwealth has a lifetime lookback on OUI offenses. Massachusetts will also look for and count any OUI-related convictions in all other states. This means that if you have a conviction for DUI, DWI, OUI or an alcohol program order in any other state, the Commonwealth will count it towards charging.

This is one of the reasons why a good DUI attorney will evaluate your case for trial, even on a first offense. If there are weaknesses in the State’s case against you, your lawyer should be able to find them and discuss with you a strategy to beat your OUI charges in court.

What are the maximum penalties I face for a 3rd DUI?

DUI felonies face increasingly severe penalties. However, with the right defense attorney on your side, you will almost never have to worry about the maximum sentence being imposed –even if you are convicted. It is the job of a competent and experienced OUI lawyer to see that maximums are not handed down. That said, you should know that the minimum criminal punishment for conviction on a 3rd DUI in Massachusetts is a mandatory of 150 days imprisonment.

Important: There are other serious consequences that may result if convicted of a felony. Non-citizens face deportation. Your travel to other countries –such as Canada, may be restricted. You could lose your financial aid for college. Your career options will be limited, and you will have a hard time getting insurance.

OUI Repeat and Felony Penalties

Offense Charged:Jail TimeFines & CostsAlternate DispositionLicense SuspensionIgnition Interlock
2nd OUI/DUI -MisdemeanorMandatory: 30 Days. From 60 days – 2.5 years.$600 – $10,000Yes; Eligible.Up to 2 years.Upon Hardship + 2 yrs.
3rd OUI/DUI –FelonyMandatory: 150 Days. From 180 days – 5 years.$1,000 – $15,000No; non-eligible.Up to 8 years.Upon Hardship + 2 yrs.
4th OUI/DUI –FelonyMandatory: 1 year. From 2 years – 5 years.$1,500 – $25,000No; non-eligible.Up to 10 years.Upon Hardship + 2 yrs.
5th OUI/DUI –FelonyMandatory: 2 years. From 2.5 years – 5 years.$2,000 – $50,000No; non-eligible.Lifetime Revocation.Non-eligible.


What Happens in Court Appearances for OUI /DUI?

If you were arrested and released from police custody, your paperwork will indicate your court date for arraignment –often called first appearance. This is when the charges against you will be read, and when you tell the court how you plead. If you were indicted for felony OUI, your first appearance will likely be in a Superior Court, where your case will be resolved.

It is absolutely crucial that you be represented by an experienced trial attorney specifically qualified to handle DUI offenses by this point. Evaluating the evidence and circumstances of your case is fundamental to choosing how you move forward, and should only be done in partnership with an OUI lawyer who has a proven track record of successfully defending driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol cases. Even if you had a court-appointed attorney at your arraignment, you should contact an OUI defense attorney as soon as possible thereafter.

If you do not plead out your case, the next court date after arraignment will be a pre-trial conference. This is when your attorney and the prosecutor exchange information about the case, called “discovery.” Pre-trial meetings are vital to preparing for trial, and your lawyer may seek to file motions in defense of your case at this time, or at a time set and agreed to by the court.

The next date set for court will be for motions hearings, full trial, or both. The time between your first appearance and trial dates can vary significantly in Massachusetts courts, although it is common for trials to proceed six months or more after arraignment, depending on continuances granted and other docketing factors.

Review the Mass.gov guide: Massachusetts law about drunk driving

The Only Certified “ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist” In Massachusetts

There are number of issues that must be taken into consideration if you are facing a repeat or felony DUI charge. Blood-alcohol chemical testing is a highly complex area of defense law, and you will need to rely on an attorney who understands all of the science involved in your case.

Even if there is no question of the accuracy of the DUI tests – breathalyzer, blood, or urine test – in your case, it may be possible to reduce the charges against you, and/or to negotiate a lesser sentence. Understanding all facets of the evidence, the criminal process and the state’s case against you is what ultimately leads to a successful disposition.

Attorney Greg Oberhauser knows all the science and technology behind any OUI case. He is the only criminal defense lawyer in Massachusetts who is a certified ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist. Receiving this designation from the American Chemical Society requires substantial training and hours of education in the field of forensic chromatography and blood-alcohol and drug concentration analysis.

Make the right call. As your attorney, Greg will evaluate your case, explain all options available, and take steps to reduce the likelihood that you will encounter additional legal problems. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, contact Lowell, Massachusetts DUI defense attorney Greg Oberhauser today.