Getting charged with a DUI can be overwhelming. It’s a natural first instinct to wonder how you can get out of this situation. It’s true that sometimes DUI charges (called OUI or “Operating Under the Influence” in Massachusetts) get dropped with no trial, no conviction, and no plea or finding of guilt. Whether or not this is a possibility in your case will depend on the facts of the case.
When Is a DUI Dismissed Before Trial?
If the court dismisses a charge, it is most often because the prosecution has made a fundamental error. When legal procedures have been violated, evidence has been mistreated, or the facts of the case are clearly at odds with the details that led to the charges, the judge may find that the case has been compromised.
Here are some of the broad reasons that a court may decide to have DUI charges dropped:
- An unlawful stop, search, or interrogation
- Lack of reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop
- Lack of probable cause for the arrest
- Faulty or improperly maintained breath test devices
- Mishandled evidence
- Improper field testing procedures
- General lack of admissible evidence
The Odds of Getting DUI Dropped
DUI charges are not frequently dropped or dismissed before a trial. While the odds are relatively low, it does happen on some occasions. Since dropped DUI charges often result from legal errors or lack of admissible evidence, the state would likely need to make a mistake or critical pieces of evidence to be ruled invalid and inadmissible in court.
It’s also possible that you received multiple charges, but only one is dropped before trial. For example, consider a situation in which you were charged with both OUI and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle. If the court lacks strong evidence of intoxication, you might see the OUI / DUI charges dropped, but still go to trial for Negligent Operation.
How to Get DUI Charges Dropped
Whether or not you can get DUI charges dropped is, to some extent, beyond your control. There is no surefire way to make it happen in all cases. It will depend on the facts of your individual situation and the available evidence. Also note that cases aren’t generally dismissed on their own. A qualified legal expert on DUI / OUI in Massachusetts will need to work with you to sort through the available information and identify any potential grounds to challenge the charges
The best thing to do is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the arrest. Your attorney will want to cast a wide net while going over the case. Make sure to save all documentation from the arresting officer, the court, and other potential evidence related to the date of the arrest, the location, and your condition at the time. Share every detail you can remember about the event, what led up to it, how the officer behaved, and what happened afterwards.
Breathalyzer devices are also known to be fallible. They have a history of inaccuracy and mistreatment by law enforcement. This has even led to the potential that many recent convictions could be overturned.
These are a few of the reasons that it is unwise to plead guilty at your arraignment in court before speaking with an attorney.
Most First DUI Charges Do Not Result in Conviction
First offense DUI charges don’t always go to trial, even if everything in the case is normal and proper. The defense and the prosecution commonly work together to discuss the possibility of an admission to sufficient facts and a Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF).
This is a form of plea deal in which you admit that the court has sufficient facts to find you guilty, but do not admit any guilt, and accept a more lenient first-offender penalty outlined in section 24D of Massachusetts General Law. In exchange for a two-year probationary period, completion of an alcohol education course, and 45-90 day loss of your license, the court will have your DUI charges dropped (after you complete probation) and there will be no conviction on your record.
If you’ve been charged with DUI or OUI, reach out to an experienced Massachusetts OUI attorney right away. It’s never too early to start examining the case for possible grounds for dismissal.