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The following information is designed to help you understand the process and your options. You need know your rights and options before you make any decisions about how to handle your case. A second offense is a misdemeanor.
Effective November 30, 2002, “Repeat offender” status for Drunk Driving (OUI, DUI, DWI) cases is determined in Massachusetts based upon a “Lifetime Lookback.” So even if you had an OUI, DUI, DWI 30 years ago it will count.
A previous Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF) with an assignment to an alcohol education program will count as a first offense. Additionally, if you have been charged with an OUI, DUI, DWI in another state with a Massachusetts Drivers License then you may also be treated as a multiple offender at least with the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
NOTE: Even if the Court considers you a first offender, the Registry of Motor Vehicles is not bound by the court’s classification of you. For instance, if you are charged with a first offense even though you have a prior OUI, DWI, DUI in Massachusetts or another state, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will likely consider you a second offense and suspend your license as a second offender and not a first offense.
When you arrive at the courthouse you need to check into the probation department and they will get some biographical information from you in order to check your criminal history.
Once done in probation you will be told to go into the main/first session courtroom. When your name is called they will go forward with an ARRAIGNMENT, which is a formal way for the court to charge you with a crime. The clerk or judge will enter a plea of NOT GUILTY.
Assuming your criminal record has no defaults on it, you will be released on your personal recognizance, your promise to appear back in court, and give you a date to go back to court called a pre-trial conference date. The court will also inquire about your intentions to hire a lawyer. The court will expect you to have a lawyer by the next court date. Some judges may impose conditions of release (i.e. random alcohol testing) on you if there are previous OUI, DWI, DUI offenses on your record.
If you refused to take the breath test, the Registry of motor vehicles will suspend your license for Three (3) years.
If you have taken the breath with a reading of .08 or above, the registry of motor Vehicles will take your license for 30 Days.
If you refused the breath test, under the OUI statute you are entitled to a hearing to challenge your refusal suspension. You want to take advantage of this hearing particularly in light of a 3 year suspension.