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What happens if you are a lawyer charged with an OUI in Massachusetts?

As a lawyer in Massachusetts, if you are charged with an OUI you face the possibility of having to report any conviction to the Board of Bar Overseers. If it is your first offense, it is likely to be reported, stay in your file, and have little impact on your ability to practice law.

S. J. C. Rule 4:01, § 12 requires any conviction to be reported to the Board of Bar Overseers. The definition of conviction includes a continuance without a finding. In the Model Rules, an OUI offense is not considered a serious offense. The Model Rules defines serious felony offenses that presumptively mandate disbarment upon conviction. However, OUIs in that lesser category of offenses where the attorney is on a first offense is unlikely to result in a loss of license.

If it is the attorney’s first OUI offense
  1. The lawyer would send a certified copy of the conviction to the Bar Council. Under the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, a failure to report a conviction is a separate offense that could result in disciplinary action.

  2. The Bar Council would then report the conviction to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. For a standard OUI the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court would be unlikely to remand the case back to the Board of Bar Overseers for any type of hearing.

  3. Typically, the offense would be reported and essentially closed out.

If it is the attorney’s second OUI offense
  1. The lawyer would send a certified copy of the conviction to the Bar Council.

  2. The Bar Council would then report the conviction to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

  3. The board is likely to open up a case once it is reported, but the sanctions could vary from treatment or requirement to attend substance abuse counseling programs directed to lawyers, to possible suspension if the Board deemed appropriate.

So, if you are a lawyer charged with an OUI offense, in addition to considering the implications on your license and the ability to continue your practice, the charge would have to be reported to the Board of Bar Overseers. This is something that is required and for a first offense is unlikely to have significant adverse consequences. However, it is important to know that duty to report, as it would be a separate violation of the rules not to report the offense.

As a Massachusetts OUI attorney, I frequently represent clients on OUI offenses throughout the state. I would be happy to answer any questions about the merits of the charge, how it can be defended, and any implications with regard to any professional license. Since I handle these cases frequently and commonly, many cases I have had were with the arresting police department involved in your case, and typically I will have some further advice or knowledge about how to defend the case based on my experience with that police department.