Multiple OUI charges

If you’ve been arrested and charged with OUI—even if it’s your second offense—you will most likely be facing misdemeanor OUI charges in Massachusetts.  There would need to be additional circumstances in the case for the state to impose felony OUI charges.

This means Massachusetts OUI law is structured to give you two strikes before OUI becomes a felony.  If you are convicted of a 3rd OUI in Massachusetts, you will always receive a felony on your criminal record, whether or not there are other aggravating circumstances.

Multiple OUI Charges and Penalties in Massachusetts

Here is a rundown of what you can expect in terms of the level of the charge and significant consequences for repeated OUI convictions in the Commonwealth:

OUI Charges

Criminal Charge Imposed

Alternate Disposition?

Jail Time?

License Suspension?

Fines?

Second OUI

Misdemeanor

Eligible

60 days to 2.5 years

Up to 2 years

$600 to $10,000

Third OUI

Felony

Ineligible

180 days to 5 years

Up to 8 years

$1,000 to $15,000

Fourth OUI

Felony

Ineligible

2 to 5 years

Up to 10 years

$1,500 to $25,000

Fifth OUI

Felony

Ineligible

2.5 years to 5 years

Lifetime Suspension

$2,000 to $50,000

Massachusetts uses a lifetime lookback period so that a previous OUI conviction will stay on your record for life.  Even if it’s 50 years after your first conviction, a second OUI charge will always be considered a second offense.  

If your first offense was more than 10 years ago, however, you may be eligible for a “Cahill” disposition (also called a “24D second chance disposition”) with reduced penalties similar to those usually offered to first offenders.

In the above scenarios, you would also be required to install an ignition interlock device upon the reinstatement of your license (or acquisition of a hardship license).  A fifth or subsequent OUI offense will result in a lifetime license suspension and no possibility of a hardship license, so no interlock device is necessary in those cases.

When Does First or Second OUI Charge Become a Felony?

Massachusetts treats most first and second OUI charges as misdemeanors. Here are a few of the aggravating conditions that could potentially escalate multiple DUI charges to a felony:

OUI Charges

Criminal Charge Imposed

Alternate Disposition?

Jail Time?

License Suspension?

Fines?

OUI Child Endangerment 

(First Offense)

Misdemeanor

Ineligible

90 days to 2.5 years

Up to 1 year

$1,000 to 5,000

OUI Child Endangerment 

(Repeat Offense)

Felony

Ineligible

6 months to 5 years

Up to 3 years

$5,000 to $10,000

OUI Serious Bodily Injury 

(Not Reckless or Negligent)

Misdemeanor

Ineligible

Up to 2.5 years

2 years

Minimum of $3,000 (and/or jail time)

OUI Serious Bodily Injury 

(Reckless or Negligent)

Felony

Ineligible

2.5 months to 10 years

2 years

Up to $5,000

OUI Manslaughter

Felony

Ineligible

2.5 to 15 years

15 years (1st offense)

or

Lifetime (2nd offense)

Up to $5,000

A child endangerment charge occurs when a child under the age of 14 is in the vehicle while the driver is impaired.  

Serious Bodily Injury is defined under Mass General Laws as an injury that:

  • Creates substantial risk of death
  • Involves total disability
  • Involves loss or significant impairment of some bodily function for a substantial period

OUI Serious Bodily Injury can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor under Mass Gen. Law Section 24L.  The deciding factor will be the presence of recklessness or negligence, but OUI and recklessness have separate elements in the law.  It’s possible to be found guilty of OUI without a finding of recklessness, for example, or to be found reckless but not OUI. Every case is fact specific, and the outcome will depend upon many circumstances. 

Any OUI charge can have a significant impact on your life.  If you’re facing OUI charges in Massachusetts, it’s critical that you contact an experienced OUI lawyer to discuss the details of your case and begin constructing an effective defense.