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OUI in Worcester County

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 Vs. DWI in Worcester County

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.

What Happens When You Get an OUI in Worcester County?

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.

What is the OUI Process In Worcester County?

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:

  • Arraignment: The court formally reads out the OUI charges to the offender and asks them to enter a plea. The offender may plea guilty or not guilty. The court may also consider applications for bail. The court may release the offender on the promise that they will return to the court on the pre-trial date or set cash bail for the individual’s release. Depending on the nature of the offense, the court may impose conditions for the offender's release. First-time offenders may be released without bail.
  • Pre-trial Date: At the Pret-rial conference, held between 4 to 6 weeks post arraignment, the offender will be able to collect detailed information on the charges against them from the prosecutor. The offender or their attorney has the opportunity to open discussions with the prosecution on possible resolution of the case. The suspect can also ask the persecutor questions relating to the offense. Depending on the availability of information from the District Attorney’s office, there may be one or multiple pre-trial hearings.
  • Motion Hearing: The arresting officer appears before the court to testify. The officer is likely to present damning evidence against the offender. An experienced OUI attorney or the defendant may file a motion to suppress evidence or a motion to suppress statements. The motions target to reduce the impact of the officer’s testimony on the offender’s case, especially if the officer was unorthodox in the collection of evidence. If a motion to suppress evidence is successful, the court may dismiss the case on grounds that the officer violated the offender’s constitutional right. For instance, it may be apparent that the officer had no justifiable reason for pulling the offender over. A successful motion to suppress statements precludes the prosecution from presenting self-incriminating statements collected in violation of the offender’s Miranda rights into evidence. The motion may not lead to a dismissal but it will limit the number of possibly damning evidence the prosecutor may use against the offender.
  • Trial: OUI trials are usually completed in one day. The judge or jury hears the case against the offender and their defense. In a bench trial, the judge gives the verdict while the jury may declare the accused guilty or not guilty, in a jury trial. If guilty the judge delivers the sentences against the offender, which may include jail term, fines and, license suspension.

How to Beat an OUI in Worcester County

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:

  • Whether the accused was operating the vehicle
  • Whether the accused committed the offense in a public way, and
  • Whether the accused was under the influence of drugs or alcohol

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:

First Offence

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.

  • Offenders may be sentenced to two and a half years jail term. Incarceration may also extend to weekends, holidays, and evenings to complete the sentence.
  • Payment of fine, not less than $500, or more than $5000.
  • A 'head injury fee' of $250 and a victim-witness fee of $50. Probation for a maximum of two months, with a monthly probation supervision fee of $650. In a case of death and serious bodily injury, probation may last for two years, and a mandatory alcohol education program paid for by the defendant is included.
  • Offenders may also lose their license for one year.
  • $250 24D Program Fee.

Second Offence

In Worcester, penalties for second offense OUI includes:

  • Offenders must serve a mandatory 30 days minimum jail term and a possible maximum term of two and a half years.
  • Defendants have their license revoked for two years. However, the court may permit a hardship license after one year.
  • Probation of two years with a monthly supervision fee of $65.
  • Offenders are to pay fines ranging from $600- $10000.A head injury fee of $250 and two years of probation with a monthly supervision fee of $65 is attached to the sentence.

3rd Offense

Individuals who are charged with OUI for the third time will face the following punishments:

  • Offenders must serve a mandatory 180 days minimum time and a maximum of five years of incarceration in state prisons.
  • Defendants are to pay fines ranging from $1,000 - $15,000, plus additional court fines and fees.
  • A head injury fee of $250 is inclusive.
  • Eight years revocation of driver's license without consideration for a hardship license for at least four years. In a case where the offender refused to take a breath test, no consideration is permitted.
  • The District Attorney's Office can seize and sell the offender's vehicle.

Fourth Offence

  • Mandatory jail sentence (County house of correction) of two years, which include a mandatory minimum of one year. A maximum of five years jail term in a state prison also applies to this crime.
  • Offenders may pay between $1,500 to $25,000 depending on the peculiarities of the case.
  • A head injury fee of $250 plus additional court fees and fines
  • 10 years license revocation with a minimum of 8 years without consideration. However, if the offender undergoes certain education programs specified by the court, the court may consider a hardship license after five years.

Fifth Offence

  • Mandatory jail sentence of two and a half years, offender must serve a minimum of two years. Possible maximum incarceration for five years, in state prison, is inclusive.
  • Fines ranging from $2,000 up to fifty thousand dollars $50,000.
  • Head Injury Fee of $250.00.
  • Lifetime license revocation, with no hardship considered.

Other Punishments

Other punishment for OUI offense may include:

  1. Additional points on the offenders driving record: This can result in the revocation of the individual's license in the long run.
  2. The loss of driving privileges including limiting the offender to specific routes through a restricted driving permit and suspension of a driver’s license.
  3. Increased automobile insurance premiums: license points received as a result of an OUI, may attract an increase in insurance rates.