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MASSACHUSETTS OUI / DUI / DWI PENALTIES FOR DRIVERS UNDER AGE 21

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Massachusetts treats drunk driving offenses involving persons under the age of 21 very harshly, with significantly increased punishments compared to adult offenders. While a breath test of .08 or above is considered to be a failed test for an adult, a reading of just .02 is a failing score for a person under the age of 21. A single drink of alcohol may well cause a breath test reading of .02 or higher.

When you operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts, you are considered to have consented to a chemical analysis of your blood if you are arrested for drunk driving. If you refuse to take a breath test, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended. A minor’s license will also be suspended if he or she fails a breath test with a reading above .02. These suspensions will be imposed by the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and are in addition to any suspension that may be imposed by the court.

The following chart shows the maximum penalties that may be imposed for each level of offense for persons under the age of 21. The chart also shows the lengthy suspension periods that a driver under the age of 21 will face for failing or refusing a breath test.

FIRST OFFENSE OUI / DUI / DWI

PenaltyAlternative DispositionBreath Test Failure / Refusal
• Up to 2 ½ years in the House of Correction
• Fine of $500 - $5,000
• License Suspension up to 1 year
Massachusetts allows an alternative disposition for most first offenders which allows the offender to avoid a guilty finding but imposes the following conditions:

• Probation for up to 2 years
• Completion of a driver alcohol education program
• License Suspension for 180 days
• Payment of Fees and Fines
If between 18 and 21:

Refusal – 3 years license suspension, plus 180 days suspension under Junior Operator’s Law

Failure – 30 days license suspension, plus 180 days suspension under Junior Operator’s Law

If under 18 years old:

Refusal – 3 years license suspension, plus 1 year suspension under Junior Operator’s Law

SECOND OFFENSE OUI / DUI / DWI

PenaltyAlternative DispositionBreath Test Failure / Refusal
• Imprisonment of not less than 60 days nor more than 2 ½ years in the House of Correction (30 day minimum mandatory sentence)
• Fine of $600 - $10,000
• License Suspension for 2 years
Massachusetts allows an alternative disposition for most second offenders:

• Probation for 2 years
• Completion of a 14 day residential alcohol treatment program
• License Suspension for 2 years
• Payment of Fees and Fines
Refusal - 3 years license suspension, plus 180 days suspension under Junior Operator’s Law

Failure – 30 days license suspension, plus 180 days suspension under Junior Operator’s Law

If under 18 years old:

Refusal – 3 years license suspension, plus 1 year suspension under Junior Operator’s Law

THIRD OFFENSE OUI / DUI / DWI

PenaltyAlternative DispositionBreath Test Failure / Refusal
• Imprisonment in House of Correction of not less than 180 days nor more than 2 ½ years, or imprisonment in state prison of not less than 2 ½ years nor more than 5 years (150 day minimum mandatory sentence)
• Fine of $1,000 - $15,000
• License Suspension for 8 years
None.Refusal - 5 years license suspension, plus 180 days suspension under Junior Operator’s Law

Failure – 30 days license suspension

If under 18 years old:

Refusal – 5 years license suspension, plus 1 year suspension under Junior Operator’s Law

FOURTH OFFENSE OUI / DUI / DWI

PenaltyAlternative DispositionBreath Test Failure / Refusal
• Imprisonment in House of Correction of not less than 2 years nor more than 2 ½ years, or imprisonment in state prison of not less than 2 ½ years nor more than 5 years (1 year minimum mandatory sentence)
• Fine of $1,500 - $25,000
• License Suspension for 10 years
None.Refusal - Lifetime license suspension

Upon entry into a program designed for the treatment of underage drinking, the license suspension imposed under the Junior Operator’s Law may be waived for persons between the ages of 18 and 21. For operators under the age of 18, 180 days of the Junior Operator’s law suspension must be served, but the balance may be waived.

Persons under the age of 21 face serious consequences if convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. It is important to consult with an experienced attorney to determine whether you have any defenses to these charges and for help navigating the court process. The attorneys at Sankey Law Offices welcome your inquiries and are ready to help.


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