William D. Kickham
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Massachusetts OUI/DUI Laws and Penalties

Massachusetts OUI/DUI Laws

Massachusetts Drunk Driving/OUI penalties are among the strictest in the nation. This is due in large measure to the increased penalties and new, stiffer requirements created by Melanie’s Law in a variety of areas dealing with operating under the influence, including: Increased penalties for refusing a breathalyzer or blood test, entirely new and expanded OUI offenses , and creation of a state-wide Ignition Interlock Device System Law, required for OUI defendants who are convicted or plead guilty to two or more Massachusetts OUI offenses. Ignition Interlock Devices require an operator to blow into a dash-mounted breathalyzer unit, which will prevent the engine from starting if the breathalyzer measures blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02 or more.

Once you begin reading below of the various Massachusetts OUI offenses that currently exist, you will see that the penalties for each offense increase, based on whether or not a defendant has a prior OUI offense in Massachusetts. Relative to this point, you should take note that Massachusetts OUI sentencing law now incorporates a "lifetime look back" provision, which means that the court is allowed to consider any previous Massachusetts OUI convictions at sentencing. A “conviction” for this purpose, includes any final disposition reflecting a plea of “Continued Without A Finding” (otherwise known as a “CWOF”.) This means that any Massachusetts OUI/DUI conviction that you might have received in the 1980’s (or even ‘70’s), which at the time you may not have thought to be very serious, can come back to haunt you if you are sentenced now: Any conviction you receive today, may be counted as and considered as a second offense, or moving up the ladder, potentially a 3rd offense, and on.

However, where a conviction of a first offense is more than ten years old, it is possible that our office may be able to negotiate a sentence that reflects a first offense “24D” alternative disposition. If you have one prior conviction for Massachusetts OUI/DUI contact our office for a free initial consultation. We can advise you whether the facts of our case create the possibility of “24D” alternative sentencing options.

Massachusetts OUI penalties are governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24 and Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24D. The “24D” section provides for alternative sentencing provisions, which are designed to provide leniency for primarily first offenders; a sentence given under this Section is known as a "24D disposition.” The Penalties following an OUI/DUI conviction in Massachusetts, or any plea that equates to a guilty finding, are listed as follows:

  1. Jail Sentence of up to 2 1/2 years; Incarceration may possibly be served on weekends, evenings and holidays to reach the total term sentenced.
  2. Fines ranging from five hundred dollars ($500.00) to five thousand dollars ($5,000.00)
  3. A “Head Injury Fee” of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00)
  4. A Victim-Witness Fee of fifty dollars ($50.00)
  5. Probation for up to a maximum of two years
  6. Possible Community Service assessment
  7. License suspension for 1 year (hardship license may be considered after three months).
  8. In the event that a first offender resides out of state or is a full-time student from another state, the offender is allowed to enroll an alcohol education program outside of state.

Possible Alternative “24D Disposition” – Not Available In Cases of Death or Serious Bodily Injury:

  1. Probation lasting as long as two years
  2. Mandatory alcohol education program - paid for by defendant
  3. Loss of license for 45 days; A hardship license may be considered, depending on need
  4. Head Injury Fee of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00)
  5. Victim-Witness fee of fifty dollars ($50.00)
  6. Two hundred fifty dollar ($250.00) 24D Program Fee
  7. Monthly probation supervision fee of sixty-five dollars $65.00
  1. Mandatory minimum loss of license for 210 days, even under “24D Program.”
  2. Potential additional license revocation of 180 days. Under some circumstances, this additional penalty may sometimes be avoided if the defendant enrolls – and pays for - a special underage drinking program.
  3. If the defendant took a breath test and the result was .02 or higher, offenders aged 17-21 are required to enroll in a special alcohol treatment and rehabilitation program for drivers under the age of 21. This program is known as the "14 day second offender in-home program."
  1. The stakes escalate significantly for second-time offenders: a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in a House of Correction. Additionally, second and subsequent offenders lose their Massachusetts driver's license for three years.
  2. Fines ranging from six hundred dollars ($600.00) to ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00)
  3. Head Injury Fee of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00)
  4. A two-year license revocation, with a hardship license potentially considered after one year.
  5. A two-year probation term with ($65.00).

Note with second offenses: If a prior offense is more than 10 years old, our office may, depending on the circumstances, be able to negotiate a sentence that reflects a first offense “24D” Alternative Disposition. At the discretion of the trial judge, this is sometimes available once “once in a lifetime”, For second offenders with a prior OUI conviction exceeding ten years, a mandatory minimum; Third offenses are felonies in Massachusetts. Even when this option becomes available, a defendant will still be required to install and maintain an Ignition Interlock Device on his vehicle during the period of any hardship license that might be granted under the “24D” program. No guarantees here, but based on the individual case facts, we may be able to secure this alternative sentencing option.

  • Mandatory jail (House of Correction) sentence of 180 days (six months); minimum time that must be served is 150 days. A mandatory minimum sentence; the possible maximum sentence is five years in state prison, conferring a felony status on the defendant.
  • Fines ranging from one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) to fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000.00)
  • Head Injury Fee of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00)
  • Eight year license revocation (a hardship license will not be considered after four (4) years) (no hardship license for 5 additional years if you refused the breath test);
  • The District Attorney’s Office has the right to seize and sell your vehicle.
  • Additional court fines and fees
  • Mandatory jail sentence (House of Correction) of two years; of this amount, one year is the mandatory minimum; Possible maximum sentence is five years in state prison (this sentence confers a felony status on the defendant)
  • Fines ranging from one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500.00) up to twenty five thousand dollars ($25,000.00)
  • A Head Injury Fee of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00); a lifetime license revocation with no hardship considered.
  • A ten-year license revocation, with the possibility of considering work/education hardship after five years; a mandatory minimum that must be served, with a possible maximum incarceration
  • Additional court fines and fees
  • Mandatory jail sentence of two and one half (2 ½ ) years, two years of which is the mandatory minimum that must be served. Possible maximum incarceration is five (5) years in state prison
  • Fines ranging from two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) up to fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00)
  • Head Injury Fee of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00)
  • Lifetime license revocation, no hardship considered, period

If you have been arrested or are facing any Massachusetts OUI/DUI charge, whether for a first offense or subsequent, Contact us for a free consultation. We are extremely experienced in defending these cases, and we can advise you as to what you best legal options are.


In addition to the above-listed offenses and penalties, the Massachusetts Legislature created entirely new offenses in January 2006, with the enactment of Melanie’s Law. Among these new offenses were the following. Click on each numbered item below to learn more details about these new laws and penalties:

1. Employing A Person With A Suspended License To Operate A Motor Vehicle

This relatively new law makes it a crime for anyone to employ or hire another person to operate a motor vehicle, when that person’s driver’s license has been suspended. While the penalty for first offenders is limited to a fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00), second and subsequent offenders face up to one year of incarceration, together with a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000.00.)

2. Permitting Another Person To Operate Your Vehicle Knowing That Person Is Unlicensed

This law criminalizes knowingly allowing an unlicensed person or someone under license suspension to operate the lender's vehicle. Conviction carries severe penalties. The punishment for a conviction of this offense is a fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00,) and incarceration of up to 1 year in a House of Correction. Convictions for second and subsequent offenses carry stiffer penalties, including mandatory minimums.

3. Allowing A Person Who Has Been Ordered To Install An Ignition Interlocking Device In His/Her Vehicle, To Operate Your Vehicle

This law imposes serious penalties for permitting another person to operate a vehicle without an Ignition Interlocking Device (IID) in their own vehicle, to operate another vehicle not equipped with this type of device. Defendants convicted of a first offense face up to one year incarceration in a House of Correction, together with a fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00.) Second and subsequent offenders face 2 ½ years in a House of Correction and a loss of license for three years.

4. Operating Under The Influence With A Child Under Age of 14 In The Vehicle:

This law introduced a new offense for operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OUI/DUI) with a child fourteen years old or younger present. The penalty includes a fine ranging from one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) to five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), and first-time offenders lose their driver's license for one year

5. Driving Under the Influence After a License Suspension for a Previous OUI Offense - Aimed at Multiple OUI/DUI Offenders Caught Driving Under Suspension.

This law targets multiple OUI/DUI offenders caught driving under the influence after their license has been previously suspended or revoked due to a prior OUI offense(s). A defendant convicted faces a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and a maximum of 2 ½ years in a House of Correction, with fines range from two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500.00) to five thousand dollars ($5,000.00.) In addition, defendants convicted of this offense will also lose their driver’s license for one year.

6. New offense of Manslaughter While Operating A Motor Vehicle With Much Harsher Penalties.

This law created an entirely new criminal penalty for causing the death of another person while operating under the influence of alcohol. This crime is separate and apart from the charge of motor vehicle homicide, (which may or may not occur due to driving under the influence (alcohol), leading to much harsher penalties. The mandatory minimum sentence for anyone convicted of this offense is five years, and up to a maximum of 20 years, in state prison. Fines ranging to $25,000.00 are also imposed, and the convict’s driver’s license will be suspended by the Registry of Motor Vehicles for a minimum of 15 years, up to lifetime revocation.

7. Vehicle Forfeitures

Melanie's Law allows a District Attorney to petition the court for forfeiture of a defendant's vehicle following a fourth or subsequent OUI/DUI conviction or guilty plea.


If you have been arrested or charged with any of the above-listed offenses, contact our office for a free initial consultation. We are extremely experienced in defending against these new Massachusetts OUI/DUI offenses, and we can advise you as to the best legal course of action to take.


Concerning Breathalyzer tests, blood alcohol tests, and Roadside Sobriety Tests, there are a variety of new laws and penalties that you need to be aware of. Click on any of those links in this paragraph, to be taken to our Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) Standards & Penalties.


Regardless of the specific Massachusetts OUI/DUI offense that you might be facing, since you are reading this material, it is very possible that either you or someone you care about has been arrested or charged with a Massachusetts DUI/OUI offense. If so, you or the person you know is at a very critical decision point, concerning your choice of a Massachusetts OUI/DUI attorney. It is crucial that the attorney you hire be extremely experienced in handling Massachusetts OUI cases. Do NOT hire an attorney to represent you on a Massachusetts OUI/DUI charge that does not have many years of success in defending these cases.

We know how to very effectively defend these cases, we’ve been doing it for years, and we have the successful track record to prove it. We don’t just defend you – we rescue you. Call or contact our office for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION. Don’t skimp on the Boston Massachusetts OUI attorney that you hire – make your choice of attorney on the basis of experience and results – not cost. The right choice is worth the expense.

Client Reviews
When I was arrested for DUI, I was absolutely terrified. Had it not been for you, I might have been convicted of something I was not at all guilty of. My work life, my family life, my reputation, all could have been destroyed. You stood by me like the legal version of a bodyguard - and because of you, I was found not guilty. G.M.
When we got the call that our son had been arrested and charged with rape, we almost fainted. We know our son. He is not violent; he has never abused anyone, let alone another girl… If not for you and your "take no prisoners" attitude, our son might have been convicted of a crime that would have sent him to state prison. As far as we're concerned, our son owes you his life, and we owe you the world. We will never forget you. A.H. and P.H.
I hired Mr. William D. Kickham for a very important legal issue and I was extremely satisfied by the results. His in depth knowledge about the matter and his intelligent thinking was extremely beneficial. He is really an expert. He was also very supportive and sensitive towards my concerns. It was great to have a lawyer of his capacity. Thanks William for all the Help. N.G.
Atty. Kickham defended me on a charge of raping my girlfriend, who made up the whole story out of revenge because I was interested in someone else. If it weren’t for Attorney Kickham proving me innocent, God knows what might have happened to me. Z.B.
Mr. Kickham represented me on a trumped-up charge of domestic violence. The prosecutor and police wouldn’t back down, even after my spouse told them it was all untrue. They insisted on taking me to trial, and Mr. Kickham never wavered. He was my legal bodyguard, and I was found not guilty. M.B.
Of the many talents Atty. Kickham has, two are these: 1) He is ten times as persuasive as the best lawyer you’ve seen in the movies; and 2) Nothing - but nothing - gets by him. The police arrested me on completely false drug charges, and after a heated courtroom battle, Atty. Kickham won the day. Trust me, it was no surprise. D.C.
Because I mildly disciplined my child for throwing a tantrum, I was actually charged with child abuse. It was horrifying. Atty. Kickham fought for me tooth and nail, until I was declared not guilty. One hell of a lawyer. D.D.
I complimented a co-worker on her looks and patted her on the back as I did so. Two hours later, the police showed up and accused me of indecent assault & battery. From the day I hired him, Atty. Kickham fought the DA’s office until the charges were dropped. If not for him, my life would have been ruined. A.K.