DUI/DWI Recent Legal Changes in Massachusetts

What recent changes have been made to our state’s DUI/DWI laws in Massachusetts?

1. An ignition interlock device is now required for all drivers convicted of a fourth or subsequent offense of operating under the influence (OUI).

2. The legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers 21 and over has been lowered from 0.08 to 0.05.

3. Drivers under 21 years of age are now subject to a zero tolerance policy and can be charged with DUI if they have any measurable amount of alcohol in their system.

4. A “look-back” period for OUI offenses has been extended from six years to 10 years, meaning any OUI conviction within the last decade can be used to enhance penalties for future offenses.

5. Chemical test refusal will now result in an automatic license suspension for 180 days, with an additional one-year suspension for any subsequent refusals within five years.

6. First-time offender penalties have been increased, including a minimum 45-day jail sentence and two-year license suspension, and a maximum two-and-a-half-year jail sentence and five-year license suspension.

Have there been updates to the legal BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) limit in Massachusetts?

Yes, in August of 2019, Massachusetts lowered the legal BAC limit from 0.08 to 0.05. The new law went into effect on December 18th of 2019. This change makes Massachusetts the fourth state to have a legal BAC limit of 0.05, joining Utah, Hawaii and Washington.

How have penalties for first-time DUI offenders changed in recent years in Massachusetts?

In recent years, Massachusetts has become much stricter on first-time DUI offenders. Previously, first-time DUI offenses resulted in license suspensions of six months with the possibility of hardship reinstatement after thirty days. Now, a first-time DUI offense can result in a one year license suspension with no possibility of hardship reinstatement. Additionally, fines have increased from $500 to $1000 and mandatory alcohol education classes have been mandated. Finally, jail time has been increased from the previous maximum of two and a half years to five years for repeat offenses within five years.

Are there new ignition interlock device (IID) requirements or policies in Massachusetts?

Yes, the Massachusetts legislature recently passed a bill that requires any person convicted of an OUI-related offense on or after August 1, 2020 to install an interlock device in all vehicles they own or operate. The bill also requires courts to order IIDs for first time OUI offenders (with a BAC of .08 or higher) and any offender who refuses a breathalyzer test. The law also requires mandatory license revocation for offenders who fail to install or maintain their IIDs.

Have there been changes to the process of DUI checkpoints and stops in Massachusetts?

Yes, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that police must release information about DUI checkpoints before they are set up. This ruling requires law enforcement officers to give notice of the date, time, and location of a DUI checkpoint at least 24 hours in advance. The ruling also requires that notice be given to the public through a local news organization or some other appropriate form of public notification. Additionally, the ruling limits sobriety checkpoints to those locations where law enforcement officers have adequate reason to believe that a significant number of motorists have been operating under the influence of alcohol.

What impact have recent legal changes had on DUI/DWI sentencing in Massachusetts?

Recent legal changes have had a significant impact on DUI/DWI sentencing in Massachusetts. The first change came in June of 2018 when the state Legislature passed a bill that allows judges to impose more severe sentences for DUI/DWI offenders, including up to five years in prison for a fifth or subsequent conviction. The new law also increases the minimum period of incarceration for 3rd and 4th offenses from 30 days to 60 days, and requires those convicted of 3rd or subsequent offenses to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. Other recent changes include mandatory license suspension for 2nd and 3rd offenses, mandatory alcohol education classes, and increased fines for those convicted. Additionally, the law requires individuals convicted of a second or subsequent offense to be monitored for alcohol use via an ankle bracelet if they are released on probation.

Are there new diversion or treatment programs for DUI offenders in Massachusetts?

Yes, there are new diversion and treatment programs for DUI offenders in Massachusetts. These programs provide comprehensive assessments, counseling, classes and referrals to community resources. Examples of such programs include the 24-Hour Alcohol Education Program, the Alcohol Education Program and the Impaired Driver Education Program. The end goal of these programs is to reduce recidivism and promote safe driving.

Has the process for DUI/DWI testing or blood draws been modified in Massachusetts?

Yes, the process for DUI/DWI testing and blood draws has been modified in Massachusetts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has issued guidelines that allow for medical personnel to collect samples and test for alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines include allowing for medical personnel to collect samples with a single-use swab and test the sample with a handheld device at the police station or other convenient location. Additionally, medical personnel may collect a blood sample with a single-use needle and syringe, which can then be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Furthermore, those who are medically unable to provide a breath sample may have their blood drawn and tested for alcohol.

Have recent changes affected the availability of plea bargains in DUI cases in Massachusetts?

No, recent changes have not affected the availability of plea bargains in DUI cases in Massachusetts. The state has long had a system of plea bargaining for DUI cases. In Massachusetts, the prosecution may offer a plea bargain to reduce the charge or the sentence in a DUI case. However, it is ultimately up to the judge to accept or reject a plea bargain.

Are there specific changes in DUI laws for underage drivers in Massachusetts?

Yes, there are specific changes in DUI laws for underage drivers in Massachusetts. According to state law, any driver under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02 or greater will be found guilty of underage drunk driving. The penalties for an underage DUI conviction include license suspension, fines, and potential jail time. Additionally, if the driver is under 18, they may be required to attend an alcohol education program.

Have there been updates to DUI laws regarding marijuana or other drugs in Massachusetts?

Yes, there have been updates to DUI laws regarding marijuana and other drugs in Massachusetts. The state recently implemented an “Implied Consent Law” which requires drivers to submit to a breathalyzer test if they are suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs, such as opioids. If a driver refuses the test, they may face stiff penalties, including loss of driving privileges and possible jail time. Additionally, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is now conducting roadside drug tests in certain areas.

What changes have been made to DUI penalties for commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, the penalties for operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence have been increased in recent years. Drivers convicted of a first offense now have their commercial driver’s license (CDL) revoked for one year, compared to a six-month revocation prior to the changes, while being disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle for three years. Drivers convicted of a second offense now have their CDL revoked for life. Additionally, drivers can now be charged with aggravated DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15 or higher while operating a commercial vehicle.

Are there new reporting requirements for DUI/DWI convictions to other states in Massachusetts?

No, there are currently no new reporting requirements for DUI/DWI convictions in Massachusetts. However, the process for reporting convictions to other states is already in place. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is responsible for sharing information about certain convictions with other states. This includes information about out-of-state convictions for DUI/DWI offenses.

How have recent changes impacted the use of body cameras or dashcams during DUI stops in Massachusetts?

Recent changes have had a major impact on the use of body cameras and dashcams during DUI stops in Massachusetts. The state now requires all police officers to wear body cameras when conducting DUI stops. Dashcams are also mandatory in all marked police vehicles. These changes were implemented in October of 2018 and aim to increase transparency and accountability during DUI stops. Additionally, the data captured by body cameras and dashcams is now considered public record, meaning that anyone can access it. This provides an added layer of transparency and ensures that police officers are held accountable for their actions during DUI stops.

Have there been changes to DUI laws related to accidents causing injury or death in Massachusetts?

Yes. In 2017, Massachusetts passed a new law that established increased penalties for any person convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol that results in serious bodily injury or death. Specifically, the law creates a new offense of vehicular homicide by operating under the influence, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Additionally, the law increases the minimum mandatory jail sentences for operating under the influence causing serious bodily injury – from 2½ years to 5 years – and increases the minimum mandatory jail sentences for driving with a suspended license resulting in serious bodily injury or death – from 30 days to 1 year.

Are there new policies or laws regarding DUI expungement or record sealing in Massachusetts?

Yes. In October 2019, Massachusetts enacted a new law allowing those with a single DUI conviction to have their records sealed 10 years after the conviction. The law also allows for certain DUIs to be expunged under certain circumstances. The law is currently being implemented and the state is expected to start accepting expungement applications in 2021.

Have recent legal changes affected DUI insurance rates in Massachusetts?

Yes. In July 2019, Massachusetts passed a new law raising the minimum jail time for a first-offense DUI from two days to 30 days. The law also increased the fine for a first-offense DUI from $500 to $1,000. Furthermore, it requires all convicted drunk drivers to undergo an alcohol education program and to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. These changes have led to an increase in DUI insurance rates in the state, as insurance companies are now required to charge more to cover the increased risk associated with drunk driving.

What changes have been made to DUI/DWI court processes and procedures in Massachusetts?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes have been made to DUI/DWI court processes and procedures in Massachusetts. These changes include the suspension of in-person hearings, allowing for the continuation of DUI/DWI court proceedings via teleconference and videoconference, allowing for records to be also accepted electronically, and increasing the use of remote alcohol monitoring where possible. The Massachusetts court system has also implemented a new series of specialty courts, such as DUI drug courts, to better address the specific needs of those charged with DUI. Additionally, court staff are now required to wear protective masks and practice social distancing when in courtrooms. Finally, all DUI/DWI cases must now be reported to the state’s Department of Public Safety within a deadline of seven days after a guilty plea or verdict.

Are there additional resources or diversion programs for individuals with substance abuse issues in Massachusetts?

Yes, there are a variety of additional resources and diversion programs for individuals with substance abuse issues in Massachusetts. These include:

1. Massachusetts Department of Public Health – Office of Substance Abuse Services: This state agency provides substance use disorder treatment services, prevention, treatment and recovery supports.

2. SAMHSA-funded programs: Several programs funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are available in Massachusetts, including residential treatment, case management services, and peer support groups.

3. Community Health Centers: More than 60 health centers throughout the state offer an array of substance abuse treatment and support services.

4. Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership: This organization offers a number of substance use disorder treatment options on a sliding scale payment system.

5. Massachusetts Department of Corrections Diversion Programs: This state agency provides several programs to divert individuals with substance abuse issues away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate treatment services.

6. 24-hour Helpline: The state’s 24-hour helpline provides free and confidential substance use disorder treatment referrals and information about local resources.

What is the process for staying informed about ongoing and future changes in DUI/DWI laws in Massachusetts?

1. Stay up to date on news and updates from the Massachusetts Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT). The OAT regularly publishes information on DUI/DWI laws, including changes that may be proposed or in effect.

2. Check the website of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) for any new cases related to DUI/DWI laws. The SJC is the court that interprets and applies laws in Massachusetts.

3. Monitor the legislative process by checking for relevant bills on the website of the Massachusetts General Court, which is where all proposed new legislation starts.

4. Discuss current or upcoming changes with a qualified attorney who regularly practices in the area of DUI/DWI law.