It doesn’t matter where you live in the country or the state–driving while under the influence is illegal. Usually referred to as a DUI, in Massachusetts, operating under the influence is called an OUI. While getting an OUI can have consequences regardless of your age, for drivers who aren’t of legal drinking age, getting an OUI can be especially concerning. If you’re under 21 years of age, have had an alcoholic beverage, and get pulled over in our state, here’s what you should know–
OUI Laws in Massachusetts
A person commits an OUI offense if they operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If a person has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or greater, there is an automatic presumption that they are under the influence (although proof of BAC is not necessary to secure a conviction). However, for those drivers who are under 21 years of age–the legal age to consume alcohol in our state–the legal limit is lowered to a mere .02 percent. This means that if a person under age 21 has a BAC of .02 percent or above, they can face penalties.
Penalties for an OUI Under 21
The penalties for an OUI under age 21 are serious.
If you are stopped, arrested, and fail a breathalyzer test (which means you register a BAC of .02 percent or greater), the arresting officer will immediately revoke your learner’s permit or driver’s license and provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) with notice of the suspension.
If you refuse to submit to a blood or breath alcohol test–which is a violation of implied consent laws–you’ll also face consequences. These include automatic revocation of your driver’s license or learner’s permit and impounding your vehicle for 12 hours.
If you are convicted of an OUI, the penalties are worse, especially if your BAC was higher than .02 percent. You could face a fine, jail time, and will be asked to participate in Massachusetts’ Youth Alcohol Program (YAP). In fact, the criminal court will treat those who are under 21 years of age who get an OUI the same as those of legal drinking age; it is only the penalties through the RMV that differ.
Legal Actions to Take
Being charged with an OUI as an underage person can be overwhelming and terrifying, especially because the charge and a potential conviction could have a significant impact on your life and future opportunities. The very first thing that you should do if you are charged with an OUI–or if you are a parent whose child has been charged with an OUI–is to seek the help of a qualified OUI attorney near you. Your attorney can explain your options, develop a case strategy, and advocate for your best interests.
Call Our OUI Defense Lawyer Today
At The Law Office of Paul R. Moraski, our experienced OUI defense lawyer in Massachusetts knows how much is on the line. For a consultation with our law firm, please call us at (978) 397-0011 today, or use the intake form on our website to send us a message.