If you have been charged with an OUI in the state of Massachusetts, you are probably wondering what you can do to get the lightest possible sentence and how much everything will cost. There are a few things you should know about OUI laws in Massachusetts, which may require you to use an ignition interlock device (IID).
What Happens When You are convicted of an OUI?
When you are convicted of an OUI, you face penalties such as fines, mandatory alcohol education, and license suspension. A first conviction can result in potential fines of up to $5000. A second OUI conviction may come with mandatory rehab and a license suspension of up to two years. Second and subsequent OUI convictions trigger the interlock requirement.
A first OUI comes with a license suspension ranging from 45 days to 1 year. Often times your lawyer can get you a hardship license if you need to drive to medical appointments, school, or work. The ignition interlock device restriction does not currently apply to DUI first offenders in Massachusetts. If you have multiple convictions, you may not be able to get a hardship license for at least a year. If you are a repeat offender, when you are granted a hardship license or when your license is reinstated, you will be required to get an ignition interlock device.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device (IID) is essentially an inexpensive lockout device. It is not a breathalyzer and it could never meet the breathalyzer accuracy and reliability requirements. It is installed in your car underneath the dashboard. It measures the amount of alcohol in your system. The driver will activate the device by blowing into it. If there is alcohol detected it will lock the car for several minutes and you will have the opportunity to try again. You will not be able to start the vehicle until virtually no alcohol is detected. These devices record all readings and the Registry can use these readings to revoke your license and terminate your hardship license.
How Accurate are MA Ignition Interlock Devices?
A person has the right to refuse a breathalyzer test in the state of Massachusetts when they are arrested on A OUI. Breathalyzers have proven to be very controversial in the Bay State. In 2018 breath test evidence was thrown out in thousands of cases in the state court. The breathalyzers the state uses had not been calibrated properly. To make matters worse, workers at the Office of Alcohol Testing tried to cover up the miscalibration. In January of 2019, Judge Robert A. Brennan ruled that prosecutors may not use results of breathalyzer test as evidence in court until the state fixed glitches in its testing system. On June 20th, 2019 Secretary of Public Safety Thomas Turco announced that the state would resume using the devices after the Office of Alcohol Testing received national accreditation.
An IID device not a breathalyzer. Instead, it is a lockout device and the readings it captures are often misused to impose license revocations. These devices are far from fallible. If you have an IID in your car and it will not start due to a false reading, this could cause considerable problems if you are attempting to get to work or handle a family emergency.
True blood alcohol content can only be measured by testing a person’s blood. A breathalyzer measures alcohol in breath and then tries to estimate the blood alcohol content based on the alcohol in your breath.
Unfortunately, some breathalyzers read any chemical compound that contains anything from the alcohol group as ethyl alcohol. This is also referred to as ethanol and it is the type of alcohol in liquor. Interlock devices are NOT ethanol specific and a leading scientist from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has admitted this. Positive IID tests from breathing the fumes of alcohol, antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, paint, or hand sanitizer have occurred and they will continue to occur few. With good legal representation, you may be able to have the IID results excluded from evidence at the Registry or Board of Appeal.
How Long do I have to Use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?
Normally, you will have to have an IID in your car for the entire time you have a hardship license and for two years after your license has been reinstated. An attorney may be able to get this amount of time reduced with a plea bargain or a solid argument on your behalf in court.
Accused of an Ignition Interlock Violation? What a Lawyer Can do for You?
If you are accused of an ignition interlock violation, you should hire a lawyer who is intimately familiar with how the devices work and the applicable laws and regulations which govern their use in Massachusetts. You have the right to legal representation in any court, Registry, or Board of Appeal hearing and having the right lawyer can make a huge difference. Attorney Brian Simoneau is a subject matter expert on the IID and he consistently wins these cases.