It can happen to anyone: Police officers see you leaving the parking lot of a bar, then pull you over on suspicion of driving drunk. Before you know it, you are facing possible criminal charges for operating under the influence. Worse, you discover Massachusetts law states that a DUI conviction from any state, at any point in your life, marks you as a repeat offender.
People make mistakes, but you should not have to give up your future due to a temporary lapse in judgment. Here are a few guidelines if you are facing OUI charges, especially an alleged second offense.
You have rights
You have probably heard of the Miranda warning, but you may not know exactly what it means. One important aspect is that you have the right to avoid incriminating yourself. In an OUI arrest, that means you do not need to submit to the sobriety tests the police officer requests. You do not need to answer any questions. Hand over your license and registration, and exercise your right to remain silent.
You face certain consequences
In Massachusetts, refusing to submit to a breath or blood test can result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Officers may seize your license upon arrest and impound your vehicle for 12 hours or more. A conviction can mean a jail sentence of 60 days and a fine of $600, or a maximum of two-and-a-half years and up to $10,000. You may be eligible for probation after 30 days; the terms may include mandatory participation in a treatment program. If your prior offense was more than a decade ago, you may petition the courts to treat this as a first offense.
There is hope
An arrest does not automatically lead to a conviction. Officers sometimes make mistakes when pulling over drivers, administering sobriety tests or gathering evidence. Breath test equipment may be faulty; blood tests can become contaminated. Stay informed about your case and your rights.