In this Blog, I address many of the common questions and concerns about Court someone would typically have when faced with a first offense OUI. I help people everyday understand the court process and make the best decision for them as to how they should handle the case. In many incidents, that involves taking the case to trial. But here are some of the most common questions I have been asked over the years.
Important note if you recently took a breath test: Breath test evidence is not currently being offered into evidence during Massachusetts OUI trials. Accordingly, the breath test result will not be considered by a judge or jury.
- When can I get my license back and can I get a hardship license?
If you took a breath test and it was over .08, your license is suspended for 30 days; after the 30 days passes, you can get your full license back and should get it back even if the case is pending. As of the writing of this Blog, breath test evidence is not being used in court in Massachusetts so the breathalyzer results will not be admissible at your trial. You should consider whether to fight or resolve the case only based on the strength of the officer’s observations.
2. What happens if you cannot go even 30 days without driving?
If you cannot go 30 days without driving, you can resolve the case prior to 30 days and you will be eligible for a hardship in most cases.
The RMV does not authorize a hardship while the case is pending, but will require you to admit to the charge to get a hardship license. Even if the suspension if only 30 days, if you admit to the charge you are eligible for a hardship license once you enroll in the 24D and get a letter from work. The 30 day breath test suspension is terminated once you resolve the case. Here are a couple of examples:
If someone is charged with OUI on January 2nd and fail a breath test, here is how the suspension would work. If they resolve the case on January 6, the 30 day suspension ends on the 6th and the 45 day suspension begins on that day with the eligibility to get a hardship license. The person saved 26 days on the suspension by admitting to the case fast; the down side is that sometimes you will not have all the information to make an informed decision whether to resolve the case. Someone who admits to the OUI charge on January 31st, would only save a day on the refusal suspension and the 45 days would start from the 31st. You can shortened the suspension by a two to three weeks by resolving the case quickly. We generally do not recommend this because often we will not have all the information from the Commonwealth. However, in certain case, we will recommend resolving the case quickly.
If you want to fight the case, once the 30 days ends you will have your full license back. The case is likely to take four to six months, or longer depending on the legal issues in the case. Accordingly, you will be able to drive while the case is pending in court with your full license.
3. Why it is often better to be patient and get all the information before accepting a plea?
I have successfully defended over hundreds of OUI cases; these cases are very winnable at trial because in many cases it is simply the officer’s opinion that you were impaired that is the primary evidence. This type of evidence is very subjective and often the case will rely heavily on field sobriety tests. Many jurors understand that even consuming no alcohol at all, most people would be unable to perform a field sobriety tests under the pressure and threat of being arrested.
4. What happens if I refuse the breath test, when can I drive again?
If you refuse a breath test, you cannot get back on the road for the six months of the refusal unless one of two things occurs. With a refusal suspension, it will take at least 3 or 4 months in most case to get you back on the road. The first way is to have the refusal overturned by the court and the second is if you are found not guilty there is a presumption of reinstatement on the refusal suspension. The advance to refusing the breath test is that this evidence will not be offered at your trial and the Commonwealth is not allowed by the rules of evidence to comment on your refusal to take a breath test.
Once you understand the license consequences, after your first court date, you will get the report and be able to discuss your defenses with your Massachusetts OUI Lawyer. I will discuss the case either over the phone or in person and explain the potential outcomes for you. While I cannot guarantee a particular outcome, I will discuss the strengths and weaknesses in the case and other potential evidence we may need to acquire to put forth our best defense.
If you have questions about the Court process when facing a DUI in Massachusetts, you can find more information on my website or simply call me at 781-686-5924.