Demystifying first-offense drunk driving charges

| Jul 11, 2017 | Blog |

A drunk driving charge can be difficult to deal with, especially when it is your first charge. You might be worried about the outcome. The entire process might seem confusing. You have to think about the criminal justice aspect of the case, but you also have to think about the administrative aspects.

If you are facing a first-offense drunk driving charge, you should understand a few basic things. Here are some important points to consider.

Blood-alcohol concentration matters

For most drivers in Massachusetts, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or more. There are two exceptions to this: People who have a commercial driver’s license have a BAC limit of .04 percent, and people who are under 21 years old have a BAC limit of .02 percent.

When your BAC is above the limit for your group, you can face criminal charges. These charges also come with administrative penalties.

Criminal penalties for a first-offense drunk driving charge

You can face an incarceration term of up to 30 months on a first-offense DUI in Massachusetts. You also face a fine of $500 up to $5,000. You might be ordered to undergo an alcohol education program if you are under 21 years old. A license suspension of up to one year is possible.

Administrative penalties for a first-offense drunk driving charge

You face a driver’s license suspension of 45 to 90 days as an administrative penalty, which is different from a criminal penalty. You will also be responsible for paying $50 to $1,200 to have your driver’s license reinstated when your suspension period has elapsed. You can also face a 30-day automatic license suspension by the Registry of Motor Vehicles when you fail a chemical test.

Licenses suspensions can occur with a chemical test refusal

If a police officer tells you that a chemical test is necessary and you refuse, you face a driver’s license suspension. If you are 21 or older, the suspension for a first refusal is 180 days. If you are under 21, the suspension is for three years.

You have a lot to think about when you find out that you are facing a drunk driving charge. These charges can’t be ignored. In both the administrative penalty process and the criminal justice process, there are time limits for actions that must be taken. Make sure you understand these time limits and get to work quickly on your defense so you can reach the best possible outcome in your case.