A felony is the most serious kind of crime with which a person can be charged. Because felonies are so serious, they come with mandatory prison sentences. DUI and OUI laws vary from state to state, so the categorization of OUI charges as either a misdemeanor or a felony can depend on your location. So is an OUI a felony in Massachusetts? The answer is: it depends.

First Offense

If you’ve been arrested for an OUI and you have no past offenses, you will be charged with a misdemeanor rather than a felony. However, there are still serious consequences for a first offense DUI/OUI conviction. If you’re convicted, you face license suspension lasting up to one year with a license reinstatement fee required at the end of the suspension period.

Other criminal penalties you may face for a first offense OUI in Massachusetts include a monetary fine between $500 and $5,000, an alcohol education program, and jail time up to two and a half years. While your first offense DUI charge isn’t a felony, it is a serious charge with significant possible consequences.

Second Offense

If you have a singular prior OUI conviction, your second OUI charge will still be classified as a misdemeanor rather than a felony. However, the potential legal repercussions of a second DUI conviction are more significant than the consequences of a first offense.

Your license can be suspended for up to two years and the license reinstatement fee at the end of the suspension period can be as much as $1,200. The magnitude of the fine also increases from $500-$5,000 to $600-$10,000. Your risk of facing jail time increases, although the maximum sentence remains two and a half years in length. Additionally, you will be mandated to install an ignition interlock device in every vehicle you own at your expense.

Third Offense

If you’re charged with a third offense DUI, meaning you have two prior OUI/DUI convictions, you will be charged with a felony. This holds true for any further charges, meaning that fourth, fifth, sixth offenses (and so on) will be felonies.

While misdemeanors carry the possibility of jail time, if you’re charged with a felony OUI in Massachusetts, you will face mandatory jail time. The minimum sentence is six months with no parole eligibility until at least 150 days have been served. You risk serving up to five years in prison. You can be fined between $1,000 and $15,000 and your vehicle registration may be revoked. These new and heightened penalties are in addition to previously outlined consequences such as alcohol education programs and ignition interlock devices.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, it doesn’t matter whether you have a conviction history or not. Operating under the influence is a serious crime that has the potential to carry significant consequences. Be sure to seek experienced local legal representation with DUI/OUI expertise.

The Massachusetts OUI Survival Guide