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What is the difference between an OUI and DUI?

You never thought it would happen to you, but one late night you are making your way home after a few too many and think you can risk the drive. You do not think you are that drunk, but the police officer who catches you weaving down Massachusetts streets would beg to differ. Suddenly you are on the curb, trying to walk a straight line and recite the alphabet backward. You choose to take the breathalyzer and fail, and the next thing you know you have an OUI charge--not a DUI. So what is the difference between an OUI and a DUI?

The only difference is terminology. While many states use the term DUI to stand for "driving under the influence," the official term used by courts in the state of Massachusetts is OUI, or "operating under the influence." Specifically, the "operating" refers to operating a motor vehicle on a public thoroughfare. Operating under the influence is judged in the same way as driving under the influence, using applicable state and local law regarding penalties.

One critical thing to note is that in the state of Massachusetts, there is no requirement for courts to prove that you actually drove in an unsafe manner; they only need to prove that your ability to drive in a safe fashion was impaired. This means that you can receive an OUI conviction although you did not engage in unsafe driving while under the influence of alcohol.

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

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