Massachusetts DUI Laws & Penalties

Massachusetts DUI law chapter 90 section 24 states that it is unlawful for any person to operate or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or an intoxicant with a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater.

A person may also be arrested for driving under the influence in Massachusetts even if their BAC level is below the legal limit of .08% if the officer who initiated the stop is able to establish probable cause that the person's abilities to operate a motor vehicle have been impaired due to the consumption of alcohol, drugs or an intoxicant and that the driver's condition is a danger to themselves and to other people on the road.



Note: Per Melanie's Law there is a lifetime look back period for DUI/OUI convictions, meaning that once you get a DUI or OUI in Massachusetts you will always have a DUI record.

The officer will factor in a number of variables in order to determine whether or not your ability to drive has been impaired including: observing your driving behavior prior to being stopped, observing your mannerisms during the stop, how you perform during the field sobriety tests (if you submitted to them), and of course the results from the preliminary breath test (if you submitted to one).

Massachusetts Hardship License Eligibility

If you are a first time OUI/DUI offender you will be eligible for a hardship license following your initial court appearance.  Second time Massachusetts OUI/DUI offenders may be eligible for a hardship license, but the requirements set forth by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor vehicles make it almost impossible to comply with the requirements.

If you are a first time offender and you refused the preliminary breath test, you will not be eligible for a hardship license.  If you did refuse a breath test, you can appeal your license suspension, but the likelihood of winning an appeal is pretty slim.

If you are a second time offender, it is strongly recommended that you speak with a Massachusetts DUI attorney who has experience with the hardship license process when it comes to second time offenders.  Acquiring a hardship license for a second time offender is a lot more complicated and not something you should attempt on your own.

Second time offenders who are approved for a hardship license will be required to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they own and operate.  The ignition interlock must be installed by an approved vendor prior to the issuance of the hardship license.

If you are a first time offender, you must prove to the RMV that you have a need to drive, such as going to work.  If you are granted a hardship license, you will be allowed to drive for a 12-hour period during the day such as 8am to 8pm or 10pm to 10am.  The hardship license will allow you to drive 7 days a week.

The RMV will require the following items from you in order to issue you a hardship license:

  • You will need to provide the RMV with proof that you have entered a state approved alcohol education program.
  • You will have to provide the RMV with proof of your employment in the form of a letter from your employer on the company letterhead indicating your need to drive to and from work and your work hours.  If you are self employed you will need to show documentation of your business' registration in Massachusetts or an Article of Incorporation.

Suspension hearings are done on a walk-in basis in Massachusetts and are only done at certain RMV locations at certain hours and conducted by an RMV hearing officer.  The hearing officer is really just an employee of the RMV who has received some extra training that qualifies them to conduct these hearings.  First time offenders will have to pay a $500 fee for an administrative hearing and second time offenders will have to pay a $700 fee for the hearing and third time offenders will have to pay a $1,000 fee for the hearing.

Here is a quick recap of what you'll need to provide the RMV with at your hearing in order to be issued a hardship license:

  • Proof of admission into a state approved alcohol education program.
  • Proof of employment requiring you to drive.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for second time offenders.
  • Proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Massachusetts SR22 insurance policy.
  • Pay the $500, $700 or $1,000 hearing fee.

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Massachusetts First Offense DUI

The penalties for a first offense DUI charge if convicted are as follows:

  • Jail time: The maximum imprisonment term for a first offense conviction can be up to 2 1/2 years.  The minimum imprisonment term will be at the court's discretion based on the circumstances surrounding your case.  If there were no accidents or injuries as a result of your DUI and your BAC level was not excessive, the sentence will more than likely be minimal. If however, there was a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of your arrest, you will face an enhancement in the imprisonment term per Melanie's Law.  The minimum imprisonment term will be 90 days up to 2 1/2 years.

  • Fines: The fines for a first offense conviction will be between $500 and $5,000.  The minimum amount of fines you will have to pay will be at the court's discretion and based upon the circumstances surrounding your case. If however, there was a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of your arrest, you will face an enhancement in fines per Melanie's Law.  The minimum fine will be $1,000 up to the maximum of a $5,000 fine.

  • Alcohol treatment: You will also be required to attend a state approved alcohol education program.
  • Test refusal: A first offense refusal will result in a 180 day license suspension and you will not be granted a hardship license.
  • Ignition interlock: There is no interlock requirement for first time offenders.
  • License suspension: Your license will be suspended for 1 year following a first offense.  As long as you submitted to a breath test, you will be eligible to apply for a hardship license after the first 3 months of your suspension has lapsed.  If you are eligible for a hardship license or before the RMV will reinstate your license following your suspension period you will be required to provide them with proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Massachusetts SR22 policy.

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If you plead to Continuance without a Finding or CWOF, it is similar to pleading guilty to the charge except for the fact that you can honestly tell someone, like on a job application that you have never been convicted of driving under the influence.  If however, you get arrested in the future, your plea of CWOF will count against you as a prior offense or violation.

  • You will have to pay over $2,500 in court costs and fines for a CWOF.
  • You will be placed on unsupervised probation for 1-year.
  • You must attend a 16-week alcohol education program.
  • Your license will be suspended for 45 to 90 days (as long as you submitted to a breath test).
  • Most people will be eligible for a hardship license immediately.

Massachusetts Second Offense DUI

The penalties for a second offense DUI charge if convicted are as follows:

  • Jail time: The jail sentence for a second offense will be between 30 days and 30 months.
  • Fine: The fine amount for a second offense will be between $600 and $10,000.
  • Alcohol treatment: You will also be required to attend a state approved alcohol education program.
  • Test refusal: A second offense refusal will result in a 3 year license suspension and you will not be granted a hardship license.
  • Ignition interlock: An ignition interlock is required for 2 years beyond the hardship license time period for second time offenders.
  • License suspension: Your license will be suspended for 2 years following a second offense.  As long as you submitted to a breath test, you will be eligible to apply for consideration for a hardship license after the first 12-months of your suspension have lapsed.  If you are not approved for a hardship license after 12-months, you will be able to get one after 18-months of your suspension have lapsed. If you are eligible for a hardship license or before the RMV will reinstate your license following your suspension period you will be required to provide them with proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Massachusetts SR22 policy.

 

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If you plead to Continuance without a Finding or CWOF, it is similar to pleading guilty to the charge except for the fact that you can honestly tell someone, like on a job application that you have never been convicted of driving under the influence.  If however, you get arrested in the future, your plea of CWOF will count against you as a prior offense or violation.

  • You will be placed on supervised probation for 2-years.
  • You must attend a 14-day inpatient alcohol treatment program.
  • Your license will be suspended for 2-years.
  • You will be eligible for consideration for a hardship license after 1-year.
  • You will have to install an ignition interlock on your vehicle for 2-years following having your license reinstated or being granted a hardship license.

Massachusetts Third Offense DUI

A third offense DUI is a felony conviction.  The penalties for a third offense DUI charge if convicted are as follows:

  • Jail time: The mandatory minimum imprisonment term is 150 days and the maximum term is up to 5-years.
  • Fine: The fines for a third offense conviction will be between $1,000 and $15,000.  The minimum amount of fines you will have to pay will be at the court's discretion and based upon the circumstances surrounding your case and previous convictions.
  • Alcohol treatment: You will also be required to attend a state approved alcohol education program.
  • Test refusal: A third offense refusal will result in a 5 year license suspension and you will not be granted a hardship license.
  • Ignition interlock: An ignition interlock is required for 2 years beyond the hardship license time period for second time offenders.
  • Vehicle seizure: The state may seize and sell your vehicle following a third offense conviction.
  • License suspension: Your license will be suspended for 8-years following a third offense.  As long as you submitted to a breath test, you will be eligible to apply for consideration for a hardship license after 2-years of your suspension have lapsed.  If you are not approved for a hardship license after 2-years, you will be able to get one after 4-years of your suspension have lapsed.

    As a condition of being granted a hardship license or just getting your license reinstated following your suspension period you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed by an approved vendor on any vehicles that you will be operating for at least 2-years beyond the issuance of a hardship license or full reinstatement.

    If you are eligible for a hardship license or before the RMV will reinstate your license following your suspension period you will be required to provide them with proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Massachusetts SR22 filing.

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Massachusetts Fourth Offense DUI

A fourth offense DUI is a felony conviction.  The penalties for a fourth offense DUI charge if convicted are as follows:

  • Jail time: The mandatory minimum imprisonment term is 1-year and the maximum term is up to 5-years.
  • Fine: The fines for a fourth offense conviction will be between $1,500 and $25,000.  The minimum amount of fines you will have to pay will be at the court's discretion and based upon the circumstances surrounding your case and previous convictions.
  • Vehicle seizure: The state may seize and sell your vehicle following a fourth offense conviction.
  • License suspension: Your license will be suspended for 10-years following a fourth offense.  As long as you submitted to a breath test, you will be eligible to apply for consideration for a hardship license after 5-years of your suspension have lapsed.  If you are not approved for a hardship license after 5-years, you will be able to get one after 8-years of your suspension have lapsed.

    As a condition of being granted a hardship license or just getting your license reinstated following your suspension period you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed by an approved vendor on any vehicles that you will be operating for at least 2-years beyond the issuance of a hardship license or full reinstatement.

    If you are eligible for a hardship license or before the RMV will reinstate your license following your suspension period you will be required to provide them with proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Massachusetts SR22 insurance policy.

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Massachusetts DUI Under 21 Years of Age

Massachusetts "zero tolerance" law for under age drinking states that any person under the age of 21 who is stopped on suspicion of DUI and has a blood alcohol concentration level of .02% or greater will be arrested for violating the zero tolerance law for under age drinking.

The consequences for refusing a breath test for someone under the age of 21 are very harsh.  A test refusal will result in a 3-years + 180 days suspension of your driver's license. If you submitted to a breath test and your blood alcohol level was .02% or greater, your license will be suspended for 30 days for violating the zero tolerance law.

If you are under 21 and your BAC was .08% or greater you will be facing the same penalties as someone over 21 would face for a DUI including: fines of $500 to $5,000, imprisonment term of up to 2 1/2 years and a license suspension of 1-year following the imprisonment term.

Once your suspension period is up the RMV will require you to pay a $100 license reinstatement fee and provide proof of financial responsibility in the form of aMassachusetts SR-22 insurance policy.  You will have to carry your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years following the reinstatement of your license.

Massachusetts SR22 Requirements

Before the Massachusetts RMV will reinstate your license following your suspension period or before issuing you a hardship license, they will require you to file an SR22 form with them before issuing you a new license. You will be required to carry your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years.

At anytime during this 3-year period if there is a lapse in your Massachusetts SR-22 insurance coverage, your insurance provider is obligated by law to immediately inform the Massachusetts RMV of the lapse.  If a lapse in coverage occurs, the Massachusetts RMV will immediately suspended your license and you will be required to re-file an SR22 form with the RMV before they will issue you another license.

Since you are going to have to have your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years, it is important to find the cheapest policy you can before choosing one.  DUI Process has partnered with the largest and most trusted SR22 insurance provider in the state of Massachusetts and has worked out a special discount only available here for our website visitors.

You won't be able to find an SR22 insurance policy in Massachusetts for any less. Type in your zip code below so we can provide you with the cheapest rates in your area.

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Other Massachusetts DUI Resources

  • Massachusetts First Offense DUI - First offense information including penalties, fines, potential jail time, license suspension, DUI classes, and much more.

  • Massachusetts SR22 Insurance Filing - We have compiled everything you need to know about Massachusett's SR22 insurance and filing requirements including important addresses, phone numbers, etc.

  • Massachusetts DUI Alcohol Education Classes - We offer a complete listing of state approved DWI alcohol education programs listed by County.

  • Massachusetts Bail Bondsmen - Comprehensive list of Massachusetts bail bond agents including address, phone, website, etc.