Drunk Driving:

Massachusetts

DUI Law: State Statute

Massachusetts DUI Law

DUI Law: BAC Levels and Implied Consent

  • State: Massachusetts
  • “Per Se” BAC Level: .08
  • “Zero Tolerance” Level: .02
  • Enhanced Penalty BAC Level: .2
  • “Implied Consent” Law: Yes

"Per Se" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level
The “per se” level means that at this BAC level, regardless of visible signs of intoxication, a person is considered legally intoxicated; there is not need to provide proof that the individual is impaired in any way.  In 2005 all states set this amount at .08.

"Zero Tolerance" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level
Zero tolerance laws apply to drivers under the legal drinking age (21).  All states have a zero tolerance law.  The law carries strict penalties for persons under 21 that are found driving with a BAC above 0.0; that is, there is “zero tolerance” for violators.  Some states allow that .01 and .02 are negligible amounts and are not illegal. 

"Enhanced Penalty" Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Level
Enhanced Penalty levels, which are not enforced by all states, apply to drivers with exceptionally high BAC’s.  Typically, the enhanced penalty level is about double the “per se” BAC limit.  The penalties are harsher than for a simple DUI offense, including lengthier prison sentences, steeper fines, and additional driver’s license sanctions.

"Implied Consent" Laws
An implied consent law means that if suspected of DUI, a driver must agree to take a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine).  The penalties, simply for refusing to submit to the test, are quite harsh.  Typically, they include the suspension of the driver’s license for six months to a year.

DUI Law: Selected Penalties

  • State: Massachusetts
  • Administrative License Suspension/Revocation (1st/2nd/3rd Offense): 1yr / 2yrs / 8yrs
  • Mandatory Alcohol Education and Treatment/Assessment: Both
  • Possibility of Vehicle Confiscation: Yes
  • Possibility of Ignition Interlock Device: Yes

Please Be Aware: This chart is simply meant to convey standard penalties for individuals convicted of DUI.  Persons convicted of DUI will also face jail-time, fines, and community service.  Typically, the length and quantity of these will vary from case to case, depending on the circumstances.  First time offenders face the lightest sentences, generally a fine with the possibility of time behind bars.  Penalties grow more severe from there, influenced by if the driver has a prior DUI conviction and if injury or damage was caused.

Administrative License Suspension/Revocation
These are the minimum mandatory penalties for a legally intoxicated driver (or a driver who refuses to take a chemical test).  It is not related to criminal penalties for a conviction, but rather is a sanction imposed by the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or some other specified agency.  Sanctions are more severe for repeat offenders.  Generally, a repeat offense means that two offenses occur within any five year period. 

Please Be Aware: Penalties may be harsher for commercial drivers or drivers that are subject to either “zero tolerance laws” or “enhanced penalty laws.” 

Mandatory Alcohol Education and Assessment/Treatment
Mandatory Alcohol Education and Assessment/Treatment programs may include requiring attendance of DUI prevention and awareness programs or determining if the individual has an alcohol dependency problem.  Often, this type of program is used as a required portion of probation or a suspended sentence.  Not all states utilize Mandatory Alcohol Education and Assessment/Treatment programs. 

Vehicle Confiscation
Some states allow the Department of Motor Vehicles or a law enforcement agency to confiscate the vehicle of an offending DUI driver.  Typically, only repeat offenders can have their vehicles confiscated.  The confiscation may be permanent or for an established period of time.  Due to considerable fines and administrative costs, recovery of the vehicle is quite costly.

Ignition Interlock
This is a device, which can be required by some states, that does not allow a vehicle to be operated by an intoxicated driver.  Similar to a Breathalyzer, it measures the BAC of the driver.  If the result is higher than .02, the vehicle cannot be operated.  Furthermore, the DUI offender must pay all costs associated with the device, including rental, installation, and maintenance.

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