New year could usher in stricter first OUI sentencing

Years ago on our Massachusetts criminal defense blog, we wrote about the possible legislation that would require those convicted with first DUIs to have ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. Back then, the proposed law didn't pass. But here we are again, discussing drunk driving and interlock devices in the state. 

The laws regarding first offense OUIs are close to changing again.

Late last month, the senate passed a bill that would make the law stricter. If the House of Representatives and the Governor approve the bill, the following will become law. Someone who is convicted of driving under the influence would be mandated to get their vehicle suited with an ignition interlock device. This possible January 2017 change would give those charged with suspicion of DUI even more reason to rely on an experienced criminal defense lawyer. 

How do the driving devices work? Basically, an ignition interlock device is a breath test, but linked to a vehicle. A driver must blow into the device and register a BAC level of below 0.02 in order to start the car. That threshold means drivers shouldn't have had anything to drink before driving. 

Current legislation for first-time OUI cases includes punishments such as the temporary loss of a driver's license, a fine and even jail time. If the new bill takes effect, all first OUI convictions could result in those penalties, but they would also result in the ignition interlock requirement.

The possible change reflects how seriously the state's authorities view operating under the influence cases. Changing laws and most certainly the strengthening of criminal laws make it crucial for anyone accused of OUI to work with a trusted lawyer as soon in the process as possible. 

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