When a person is charged with a DUI for the first time, it is normal for them to have a lot of questions. One of the most common and pressing questions with a DUI charge is “what’s going to happen to me?” Every DUI case is different, but there are generally four possible outcomes in a DUI case: a Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF), a Guilty finding, a Not Guilty finding, and a dismissal.
DUI Case Dismissals
A DUI case can be dismissed when there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of “Probable Cause.” In some instances, if there was a procedural error that renders the prosecution’s evidence inadmissible, an OUI case could be dismissed. Dismissal is the least common of the three types of DUI case outcomes.
Continuance Without a Finding
A Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF) is the most common outcome for a First Offense OUI. Because a Continuance Without a Finding is not considered a criminal conviction, many first-time offenders opt to resolve their case with a CWOF, simply to preserve their criminal record. A CWOF, however, does require the person to admit that there are sufficient facts to warrant a finding of Guilty. In essence, the person is required to admit to the charge. For this reason, despite not technically being a conviction, a CWOF does count as the equivalent of one if the person is ever charged with an OUI again later in life. The penalties associated with a CWOF mirror those of a Guilty finding in most cases as far as the duration of probation, the Alcohol Education class, and the driver’s license loss.
Verdict: Not Guilty
You will be found “Not Guilty” of a DUI at trial if there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you operated a vehicle while under the influence. Having a qualified DUI defense attorney exponentially increases your likelihood of achieving a “Not Guilty” verdict as a lawyer will have experience defending similar cases. If you receive a “Not Guilty” verdict, your license suspension can be lifted and there will be no further penalties.
If you are found guilty of a DUI in Massachusetts, there are a few different penalties you may face. First-time DUI offenders generally are looking at a period of probation with an Alcohol Education Class and the license loss discussed below. There will also be monetary consequences in the form of statutory fees totaling $600, RMV reinstatement fees of generally $1000, and the cost of the Alcohol Education Program which is approximately $1300.
You will also face a license suspension imposed by the Registry of Motor Vehicles, or RMV. The statutory license suspension period is one year long, but that is uncommon. If the court imposes a 24D Disposition and requires you to attend the Massachusetts Impaired Driving program, your suspension will be between 45 and 90 days in length. In addition to license suspension, drivers who are convicted of DUIs risk having an Ignition Interlock Device installed in their vehicle, even for first-time offenders (with breathalyzer readings of .15 or greater in order to obtain a hardship license). An IID serves as a personal breathalyzer which must be passed in order for a vehicle to operate.
There are miscellaneous other consequences for DUI conviction in Massachusetts, like that your conviction will never fall off your record. To avoid these penalties, it’s important to work with a qualified and experienced DUI defense attorney.
Attorney Joseph Higgins
Joseph J. Higgins is a Criminal Defense Attorney specializing in DUI Defense. Attorney Higgins has been recognized by The National College for DUI Defense for his dedication and commitment to this area of the law. He has also been identified by Super Lawyers Magazine as a Massachusetts “Rising Star” in DUI Defense. This distinction is limited to only 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state.
If you’re interested in working with Attorney Higgins on your DUI case, contact him now for your free consultation.