inmate in a prison cell

It’s often said that the penalties for a first offense OUI in the state of Massachusetts are harsh, but how do the penalties here compare with first OUI penalties in other states? The answer: it depends. In 2017, WalletHub ranked Massachusetts as the state with the 22nd strictest OUI penalties. Other sources have listed Massachusetts as one of the strictest states for first-time OUI offenders because the possible maximum jail time is the highest in the country.

Arizona is consistently ranked as the number one state with the strictest OUI laws and harshest penalties for first-time offenders. Let’s review the OUI penalties in Massachusetts and compare them to the OUI penalties in all the states that share a border with Mass., plus Arizona.




New Hampshire

Rhode Island

New York



Monetary fine






Up to $750


License suspension

One year

45 days

Nine months to two years

30 days to 18 months

At least one year

90 days

90 days

IID installation

For certain offenders

Required for one year

For certain offenders

For certain offenders

For certain offenders

For certain offenders

Required for one year

Jail time

Not mandatory, up to 2 ½ years

Mandatory, 48 hours to 6 months


Not mandatory, up to one year

Not mandatory, up to one year

Not mandatory, up to two years

Mandatory, 10 days to 45 days

All persons convicted of a first OUI in Massachusetts will be required to pay a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000 and will have their license suspended. License suspensions for a first-time OUI offense are one year in length but can be reduced if offenders are willing to complete driver re-education courses. While all repeat offenders must install IIDs, only certain first-time offenders are required. Jail time for a first OUI in Massachusetts is rare, but it is possible, and those found guilty risk up to 30 months of prison time.

In the neighboring states of Connecticut and New York, although first offense OUI fines start at the same cost as they do in Massachusetts, their maximum fines are a full $4,000 less than in Massachusetts. In fact, Massachusetts even has a higher maximum possible fine than Arizona, the state ranked as the toughest in the country. 

Similarly, while states like Connecticut and Arizona mandate some jail time, it’s not required here in Massachusetts. However, the maximum sentence length in Arizona is only 45 days and the maximum in Connecticut is six months. In Massachusetts, first-time OUI offenders can be jailed for up to two and a half years. Consistently, Massachusetts has minimum penalties that are comparable to those in many other states, but maximum penalties that often outstrip our nearest neighbors.

If you’ve been charged with an OUI in Massachusetts, you don’t want to risk facing those high maximum penalties. Seek out a qualified, experienced OUI defense lawyer immediately. Attorney James Milligan has been practicing exclusively OUI defense for 25 years and has a proven history of beating OUI charges. To schedule your free case consultation, contact him today.

The Massachusetts OUI Survival Guide