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The Basics of Massachusetts DWI OUI Laws



If you are caught drinking and driving in Massachusetts, you will be charged with operating under the influence (OUI). In Massachusetts, OUI is also commonly referred to as DUI and DWI.

Massachusetts DUI laws are not as complex as some other state's DUI laws. For example, there are no enhanced penalties for high blood-alcohol levels. Still, if you are charged with being a Massachusetts drunk driver, you may face some very serious penalties. That is why you will want the assistance of a knowledgeable Massachusetts OUI attorney to help you understand your rights under the law.

Massachusetts DWI Defined

In Massachusetts, DWI, or driving while intoxicated, is defined as any driver 21 and older who has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. This means that if a sample of your blood is taken, .08 percent of the sample would be alcohol.

You may also be charged with an OUI in Massachusetts if you exhibit signs that you are driving while impaired by alcohol. This means that you do not necessarily need to have a BAC of .08 or greater to be charged with drunk driving.

Drunk Driver Traits

A police officer may pull you over on suspicion of violating Massachusetts DWI laws if he or she sees you exhibiting the traits of a drunk driver.

These traits can include the way you drive, your behavior once you have been stopped, and your physical qualities.

Examples of potentially incriminating driving include:

  • Hesitating at a green light
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Driving at night without headlights
  • Swerving
  • Driving too fast or too slowly
  • Braking too hard or too slowly

Examples of potentially incriminating behavior and physical qualities include:

  • Acting erratically
  • Speaking with slurred speech
  • Inability to focus your eyes or red eyes
  • Alcohol on your breath

Field Sobriety & Breathalyzer Tests

To further test whether you are guilty of violating Massachusetts DWI law, a police officer may test your motor skills by administering a field sobriety test. These tests include such physical and mental challenges as:

  • Walking in a straight line
  • Following a moving object with your eyes only
  • Standing on one leg with your arms to the side
  • If you fail the field sobriety tests, the Massachusetts police officer will place you under arrest for committing OUI.

    To test your BAC, the Massachusetts officer may also ask to administer a breathalyzer test. This test uses a device that can estimate your BAC by picking up trace amounts of alcohol in your breath. If the breathalyzer reads .08 percent or more, you will be charged with OUI in Massachusetts.

    Melanie's Law

    Part of Massachusetts DWI law is known as Melanie's Law. This law increases the penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test.

    Penalties you may face for refusing a breathalyzer test include:

    • With no prior OUI offenses: You may have your license suspended for 180 days
    • With one prior OUI offense: You may have your license suspended for three years
    • With two prior OUI offenses: You may have your license suspended for five years
    • With three or more prior OUI offenses: You may have your license suspended for the rest of your life

    If you have further questions about Massachusetts DWI laws, contact a Massachusetts DWI attorney in your area.