Operating Under the Influence (OUI) is the criminal charge brought by law enforcement against a driver for being in control of a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs.
In Worcester, the first and second OUI offenses are misdemeanors. However, where a first or second-time OUI offense leads to serious bodily injury or death, it is a felony. A defendant convicted for an OUI resulting in serious bodily injury to a third party may serve up to a 6-month mandatory jail term. In cases of death resulting from an OUI, an offender faces trial for manslaughter. A manslaughter conviction resulting from OUI is punishable by a jail term of five to twenty years and a fine of $25,000. The accused may also face a 15-year withdrawal of their driver’s license.
From third-time OUI offenses and above are felonies. Offenders will be sentenced to at least 150 days in jail with a fine of between $1,000 to $15,000. In some instances, offenders may lose their driver's license for life.
DUI and DWI may refer to different or the same offense depending on the state in which the offense is committed. In Worcester, the term used for drunk driving offenses is OUI and describes the offense of operating a motor vehicle on a public road or in any place where the public has the right to access while under the influence of alcohol at a level of 0.08 percent or higher. A driver may also be charged for an OUI if they were under the influence of other Stimulants, like drugs.
In Worcester, law enforcement officers may arrest a driver on suspicion of an OUI after observing or receiving a complaint of the driver’s reckless driving. The officer is obligated to perform some tests to confirm their sus[icion, including observing the driver’s appearance or demeanor. For instance, the driver’s inability to maintain a balance, smelling of alcohol, slurred speech, and failing any sobriety tests may be indications that the driver is inebriated.
A driver 21 years and older with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or a commercial driver with a BAC of 0.04 percent will be charged for an OUI. A driver below 21 with a BAC of 0.02 percent may face a license suspension.
OUI offenses are tried in district courts and can easily be moved from one court system to another. In Worcester, MA, some of the court events involved in handling an OUI charge includes:
In planning an effective defense strategy against an OUI charge, the offender must consider several factors, including the complexities of a litigation process. A timely consultation with a skilled and experienced attorney may save the offender tons of valuable time and possibly, help them escape or mitigate severe consequences. Depending on the facts of the case, an attorney may raise vital questions that may be sufficient in casting reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case, including
Was the Defendant Actually Operating A Vehicle?
An offender may be charged with an OUI If they were sitting in the driver’s seat of a stationary vehicle with the key in the ignition. The technical difference between operating a vehicle and the actual legal requirements to prove the driver in a stationary vehicle was operating the vehicle may be a useful defense, depending on the circumstances of the case. An experienced attorney will be able to sift through the facts of the case to reveal flaws in the prosecution’s case that may not be as apparent to the offender.
Challenging the efficacy of the Field Sobriety Tests
The offender or their attorney may challenge the validity of any of the sobriety tests performed on the offender at the time of the arrest or subsequently. Depending on the facts of the case, the defense attorney may submit evidence that may prove or cast enough doubt on the accuracy of the tests including the breathalyzer test, one leg stand, urine test, blood test etcetera.
Ensuring that the police officer followed protocol
Law enforcement officers undergo training on how to properly administer a field sobriety test. If an officer failed to follow due process, an attorney that is familiar with the strict protocol officers must adhere to in administering a field sobriety test may raise questions on the admissibility of those test results.
What are Defenses for an OUI In Worcester County
In Worcester, the court will convict a defendant for an OUI offense if the prosecution can prove 3 points beyond a reasonable doubt. These points include:
An attorney may attack any and all of the above points when defending a person charged with an OUI. They may argue that if the defendant was conscious enough to converse with the police, they must have been conscious enough to drive safely. Another defense for an OUI in Worcester County is to establish that the offense was not committed in a public way.
OUIs are clearly defined by the location of the action. Therefore, if the offense did not happen in the state specified location, the court can dismiss the case. Individuals may also win an OUI trial by providing a substantial reason to dismiss a breath test or sobriety test. The defense attorney may argue that a breath test operator used an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before administering the test.
The argument is used to fault the test results since no one can prove that the operator’s action did not influence the result. Alternatively, the attorney may request for the dismissal of the sobriety test result based on the weather conditions or medical disabilities.
What Are Penalties for an OUI in Worcester County?
As stipulated under section 24 of the Massachusetts General Law, the penalty structure for OUIs:
According to Chapter 90, Section 24 of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the following punishment applies to first time OUI offenders over the age of 21.
In Worcester, penalties for second offense OUI includes:
Individuals who are charged with OUI for the third time will face the following punishments:
Other punishment for OUI offense may include: