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Are DWIs felonies or misdemeanors in Massachusetts?

The first thing you think of on getting a DWI charge in Massachusetts is how it will look on your record, and whether or not it will impact your future when it comes to ability to drive, employability, and legal rights. The last thing you want is a felony that could impact your record for the rest of your life over a single bad decision. So if you are convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI), what type of charge can you expect to face?

The answer depends on whether or not this DWI is your first offense. MADD.org reports that in Massachusetts, your third DWI conviction will upgrade from a misdemeanor conviction to a felony conviction. That means you must have two prior misdemeanor convictions for DWI before your sentencing changes, carrying with it a harsher penalty and more damaging effects on your criminal record. Massachusetts is one of twenty-two states that upgrades from misdemeanor to felony on the third offense, though many of the other states have qualifiers such as length of time since previous offense. Massachusetts has no such qualifiers.

Other instances in which a DWI charge may be upgraded to a felony is in the case of aggravated DWI. Just as with any other aggravated version of a charge, an aggravated DWI involves a DWI in which your actions while under the influence constitute additional harm to yourself or others beyond the standard charge. This can include such things as driving with children in the car while intoxicated, or assaulting an officer while resisting arrest.

The information provided here is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice.

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