First Offense OUI Court Process
When you’re charged with an OUI for the first time, the first thing that will happen is that you’ll receive an official notice from the court with the details of your charges. This notice will also include information regarding your first official court appearance. This first appearance is called an arraignment. An arraignment is how the court formally charges a person with a crime.
At your arraignment, you’ll check in at the probation office and provide some relevant personal information. From there, you’ll be directed to the courtroom. You won’t be the only person with charges in the courtroom and will have to wait for your name to be called. Once you’re called, your arraignment will begin and the court will automatically enter a plea of “Not Guilty” on your behalf. The court will ask if you intend to hire your own lawyer and give you a date to return to court, called a pre-trial conference. If the opportunity arises you should ask for a copy of the police report to provide to a lawyer for his/her review. It is never advisable to enter a plea of Guilty on the arraignment date.
First Offense OUI Penalties
If you’re found guilty and convicted of an OUI, there are a number of different penalties you might face. Any person who is convicted of an OUI in Massachusetts, even for a first offense, faces up to two and a half years of jail time. However, most OUI offenders do not spend time imprisoned.
The primary penalties of an OUI conviction include monetary fines, license suspension, and required installation of Ignition Interlock Devices for certain offenders. The precise amount owed in fines varies, but the court-imposed fine for conviction will be between $500 and $5,000, depending on the discretion of the judge. There are a number of other potential costs associated with an OUI conviction that can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to that amount.
These include the driver’s license reinstatement fee that all persons convicted of an OUI must pay at the end of their license suspension period. The reinstatement fee ranges from $500 to $1,000, but expect to have to pay at least $500, as all persons convicted of an OUI in Massachusetts will face a mandatory license suspension period.
The length of your license suspension will depend on the specifics of your case. If your breathalyzer results at the time of arrest registered a BAC reading of .08% or higher, you will automatically face a 30-day suspension. If you refuse to comply with a breathalyzer test, you’ll be immediately subject to a 6 month suspension period. If you’re ultimately found guilty of an OUI, you’ll face a one-year mandatory license suspension which can be lessened to 45 days by completing expensive re-education courses.
Additionally, offenders with multiple convictions for an OUI in Massachusetts are required to install Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) on all vehicles they own or regularly operate. An IID is a small device that prevents drivers from starting their cars unless they’ve blown into the IID and demonstrated that their BAC is below the legal limit.
The consequences imposed by the court and the RMV are not the only penalties for a first OUI conviction. In Massachusetts, OUI convictions never fall off your record, which means your conviction will permanently appear on any future background checks. Drivers convicted of OUIs also face higher insurance rates.
Avoid an OUI Conviction
Attorney James Milligan is a top OUI defense lawyer with a proven history of beating OUI charges. Contact him today for your free case evaluation.