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What Happens In Massachusetts After Your Second OUI Offense

When you’re caught drunk driving or operating under the influence (OUI) again—which means it’s your second offense—the consequences should not be taken lightly. In fact, they’re so serious that the effects won’t just affect you, but your family also! It’s not just the rather high fees to pay, either. As any reputable Massachusetts criminal lawyer will tell you, you could go to jail and/or lose your license at the same time.

Having a second offense OUI can be a stressful and anxiety-inducing time. It’s worth noting that you are not alone, by any means. This particular offense is actually the most common charge that courts in Massachusetts have. If there are no injuries resulting in the OUI incident, the charge for the second offense is essentially a misdemeanor. That said, if there was an accidental injury stemming from the second OUI offense, that could mean felony charges! In such a scenario, calling on a Boston criminal attorney will definitely be key.

What’s the first OUI offense in the first place?

Of course, there’s no understanding the full consequences of a secondary OUI unless you know for sure if Massachusetts has you down for a first OUI. 

Massachusetts, like many other states, has its own Drunk Driving Laws. Familiarity with these is downright necessary to understand what can potentially happen to you. A common misconception is that if the OUI happened in another state and/or happened quite some time ago, then it does not count as a first. This is false. It stems from “Lifetime Lookback,” the wide approach that Massachusetts takes with first OUIs! 

No matter where or when your first OUI was, in Massachusetts, it counts as your first one period. Got a charge from 40 years ago in your youth? That’s most certainly a first OUI offense. Did you get an OUI from another state, aside from Massachusetts? That’s still considered your first OUI, particularly if your license is rooted in Massachusetts!

Sometimes, first OUI charges can end up with a “continuance without a finding” (CWOF) and there’s a continuance. Even if you complete that period successfully, it could still end up with a charge that’s new, counting as an OUI that’s secondary.

What are the possible punishments for a second OUI?

A secondary OUI can have gravely tough penalties. Before any convictions, at the outset, when a breath test is refused, the license will be suspended by the Registry of Motor Vehicles for three years. A hardship license has zero options. Of course, the suspension can be appealed, but that must happen within a timeframe of a little over two weeks—specifically, within 15 days. Since a suspension for three years is quite harsh, an appeal is typically one of the most viable options.

If a breath test is taken, but there’s a breath alcohol content that’s recorded at a level of at least .08 and higher, then before any conviction, the license suspension will be for 30 days.


Operating under the influence (OUI)—which is commonly referred to as drunk driving—is one of the most common charges in Massachusetts courts. The secondary offense comes with penalties that are far more severe than the first one! It’s key to be aware of the Massachusetts drunk driving laws, such as the “Lifetime Lookback” regarding what counts as the first OUI.

Are you in need of a Boston criminal defense lawyer to help you? Reach out to The Fernandez Firm! Attorney Frank Fernandez is fluent in Spanish and has been lead counsel on numerous trials with expertise in both the State and Federal Courts. Get in touch with us today for a consultation!