Massachusetts OUI statute

The Massachusetts OUI Statute is a collection of laws, regulations, and consequences described in Chapter 90, Section 24 of Massachusetts General Laws.  Together, these laws determine how the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will treat instances of: “Operating a motor vehicle Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs” (OUI).

This is a criminal offense that is also called “driving under the influence” (DUI). A conviction will result in a misdemeanor for an OUI first offense (or second offense). A third or subsequent offense—or for escalated offenses, such as when a death results from OUI—will result in a felony.

Where Can I Read the Massachusetts OUI Statute?

The entirety of the Massachusetts OUI Statute is publicly available on the Massachusett legislative website. Although, it may take time to find the specific information you need in the full and comprehensive text. 

For first offenders, section 24D may be the most useful, since it governs the rules for the “Alternative Disposition” under which most first OUI convictions are sentenced.

Another compilation of MA drunk driving laws is available on, where each section of the Massachusetts OUI statute is helpfully annotated with a summarizing sentence so you can find what you need more quickly.

What Are the Highlights?

Massachusetts OUI laws set the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at .08% for drivers of legal drinking age (it’s .02% if you are under 21 at the time of the arrest).  You can be found guilty of OUI if the Commonwealth can show sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were:

  • Operating a motor vehicle...
  • On a public way (or in an area accessible to the public)...
  • While impaired by drugs or alcohol (and/or above the legal limit for BAC)

Sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle that is parked or stopped at the time of arrest can still constitute “operating a motor vehicle” on a Commonwealth roadway.  If convicted, a first offender would face the following penalties:

  • A $500-$5,000 fine
  • Up to 2.5 years in jail
  • A one-year suspension of your driver’s license

Subsequent offenses have greater consequences.

How Can I Defend Myself?

There are many ways to challenge the state’s evidence in an OUI case.  Failing a breathalyzer test alone does not mean that you are guilty.  The US Constitution presumes that you are innocent of any charge until and unless the government can prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  

Don’t forget that you have a right to defend yourself, and pleading “Not Guilty” isn’t the same as lying or being dishonest.  You’re only asking the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to fulfill its duty under the law to meet a high burden of proof against its citizens before lowering any consequences.

If you’re facing a charge of OUI, it’s in your best interest to consult with a DUI lawyer who is experienced with the ins and outs of the Massachusetts OUI Statute.  A legal expert can review the details of your case and advise you on the best way to move forward with an effective OUI defense.

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