MA DUI / DWI / OUI Options: Plea Guilty v. Alternative Disposition
|Penalties Imposed if You Plea Guilty||1st Offense DWI|
|Jail||Up to 2 1/2 years (may be possible to serve on weekends, holidays, and evenings)|
|Fine||$500 to $5000|
|Additional Fees||Head Injury: $250 / Victim Fee: $50|
|License Suspension||1 yr|
|Hardship License||Eligible Work / Education hardship license within 3 mo., Eligible General hardship license within 6 mo.|
|Alternative Disposition Penalties||1st Offense DWI|
|Fees||Head Injury: $250 / Victim Fee: $50|
|License Suspension||45 – 90 days / Under 21 drivers lose license for 210 days|
|Hardship License||Eligible 3 days after entry of CWOF|
|Driver Alcohol Education Program||Required|
Penalties for a Plea of Guilty to a MA First Offense DUI / DWI / OUI
A first offense MA DUI (also known as a DWI or OUI) includes up to 2 1/2 years in jail, a minimum $500 fine, additional fees, and a 1 year suspension. The only benefit to a plea of guilty to a MA DUI is that there is a hardship license available, as long as you did not refuse to take the breath or blood test. However, as you will see with a continuance without a finding (or also commonly known as a CWOF), you may be able to get a hardship license faster with an alternative disposition.
Benefits of a Massachusetts DUI / DWI / OUI alternative disposition:
1. Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF): It’s not technically a conviction, so if asked by a someone if you’ve ever been convicted, then you can honestly say “no.”
2. Penalties are less harsh, but not significantly.
3. Possibility of getting a hardship license if you refused the breath test.
Cons of a Massachusetts DUI / DWI / OUI alternative disposition:
1. It can possibly show up on some background checks.
2. If you’re ever charged with another OUI, it will be counted against you as a prior OUI conviction.
3. Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) counts a CWOF as an OUI conviction for suspension purposes.
Additional Penalties for DUI / OUI 1st Offense: Administrative License Suspension
Aside from the standard MA penalties for DWI / OUI 1st offense, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) will most likely impose an administrative license suspension, which is separate from the suspension you will receive if you’re convicted in the criminal case. If you took the breathalyzer or blood test, then the suspension will be concurrent (simultaneous) with the suspension in the criminal case. If you refused the breathalyzer or blood test, then the suspension will be tacked onto whatever DWI suspension you received in the criminal case.
1st Time Alcohol Level Above Legal Limit: 30 day suspension
1st Refusal to take Breath or Blood Test: 180 day suspension
1st Refusal to take Breath or Blood Test (under 21 DUI): 3 year suspension
So if you refused the breathalyzer, and your license suspension in the criminal case is 1 year, and the administrative suspension is for 180 days, then the total suspension will be 1 year + 180 days. However, if you took the breathalyzer or blood test, and went over the legal limit, then it would only be for 1 year.
Additional Administrative License Suspension Penalties for 1st Offense Under 21 DUI / OUI
The additional penalties for an under 21 DUI / OUI will depend on the age of the person, as indicated below:
1st Time Alcohol Level Above Legal Limit (18 – 21): Youth Alcohol Program & an added 180 day license suspension
1st Time Alcohol Level Above Legal Limit (Under 18): Youth Alcohol Program & an added 1 year license suspension
So if someone is 20, and has an alcohol level above the legal limit, then they will have to complete the Youth Alcohol Program (YAP), and in addition to the regular 30 day suspension for failing the breathalyzer, they will have an additional 1 year license suspension tacked onto the 30 day suspension, for a total of 1 year and 30 days.
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