In accordance with G.L. c. 278 § 18, you may be able to avoid a DUI conviction by making an admission to sufficient facts instead of pleading guilty. If you are able to resolve your operating under the influence case in this manner, your case will be continued without a finding and eventually dismissed. This might sound like a great option. However, under Mass. law, the continuance without a finding (CWOF) and dismissal will be counted as a conviction if you are arrested for another OUI in the future. This is because the law treats drug or alcohol program assignments and admissions to sufficient facts just like convictions for license suspension and automobile insurance surcharge purposes.
Not all cases are eligible to be CWOF’ed. For example, Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident after causing Personal Injury, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and subsequent offense OUI, some 2nd offense OUI cases (where the 1st offense disposition is less than 10 year from the 1st offense), Motor Vehicle Homicide, and OUI causing Serious Bodily Injury. In order to get a continuance without a finding for DUI, the case must be resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D.
If you are not legally entitled to a G.L. c. 90 § 24D disposition, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will not honor the 45-90 day loss of license imposed by the court. Instead, the RMV will suspend your license based on your record of prior convictions, such as 2 years for a 2nd offense and 8 years for a 3rd offense.
For drunk driving offenses committed on or after July 1, 2012, a prior CWOF will count as a conviction when calculating the length of chemical test refusal (CTR) suspensions. This means that if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer after having been previously arrested for DUI, your license will be suspended for 3 years for the refusal, if the prior case was resolved by a guilty finding, 24D disposition, or CWOF, even if the first offense was eventually dismissed after a alcohol education program assignment.
Although an admission to sufficient facts and CWOF will count as a conviction for license suspension purposes, it does not constitute a conviction for other purposes. For example, it will not automatically disqualify you from being issued a License to Carry Firearms in Massachusetts and it is not considered a DWI conviction for employment purposes.