What It Means When You Get Your Third DUI Charge

Understand Your OUI Rights.

A third DUI is considered a felony charge in Massachusetts. It comes with a minimum jail sentence of 180 days if you are convicted, 150 days of which you must serve incarcerated.

If you’re facing a third DUI charge, you’re in a much different position than those facing a first or second.

First and Second Offense DUIs are misdemeanors in Massachusetts when they don’t involve serious bodily injury or death. Third Offense DUIs are always considered felonies in Massachusetts, which means they come with a minimum jail sentence if you are convicted. You also face fines, probation, and the long-term loss of your driver’s license.

With jail as a possibility, it’s understandable for you to be concerned about your family, your career, and your reputation. Because the stakes are so high, you should consult a Massachusetts DUI/OUI/DWI attorney as soon as possible so they can review your case.

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Possible Penalties for a Third DUI Charge

If convicted, you face the following penalties for a third DUI offense:

  • Incarceration in a house of correction for 180 days to 2.5 years if indicted and prosecuted in District Court
  • Incarceration in state prison for 2.5 to 5 years if indicted and prosecuted in Superior Court
  • A fine between $1,000 and $15,000
  • Loss of license for 8 years
  • Additional court fees and fines

Any incarceration period cannot be suspended, nor can you receive probation or a reduction in your sentence until you serve 150 days of your sentence. However, you will likely serve what is known as a “split sentence.” Part of your jail sentence will be served incarcerated and the remaining balance will be served while on probation. However, you will be returned to jail if you violate your probation.

License Loss for a Third DUI Charge

If you failed a breathalyzer (blew +0.08% BAC), you will lose your license for 30 days. If you refused a breathalyzer, you will lose your license for 5 years. The license penalty handed down by the court runs consecutively to any breath test-related license loss. Therefore, if you are convicted and you refused a breath test, you could face a total license loss of 13 years or more.

You will not be eligible for a hardship license until 2 years into the 8-year suspension handed down by the court. If you refused a breath test and are convicted, that means you won’t be eligible for a hardship license until 7 years into your total license suspension period.

After 4 years into your 8-year court-ordered suspension (or, 9 years into your total suspension if you refused a breath test), you will be eligible for a limited driver’s license that is subject to certain conditions that the RMV deems appropriate. This may include driving restrictions.

You will have to install an ignition interlock device (car breathalyzer) in your car while you have a hardship license and for 2 years after you receive a regular license.

Defense Against a Third DUI

The ramifications are significant if you’re facing a third DUI charge. In most cases, it will be in your best interest to fight your charges with an experienced DUI attorney by your side.

While pleading or admitting to sufficient evidence are technically options, there is little benefit in these approaches. Generally, the court will give you the same sentence whether you plead/admit or fight your case and lose. The alternative dispositions that are sometimes available with first and second DUI charges are not available to you on a third.

However, DUI attorneys have several ways to defend you in court. For example, they can challenge the results of breathalyzers and field sobriety tests, argue against the testimony of police officers, and work to suppress evidence that was gathered improperly.

Your attorney will also help you prepare for court, walk you through proper procedures, handle any paperwork, and keep you safe from incriminating yourself.

If you have a viable defense and your attorney is successful, your case could be dismissed, or you could receive a verdict of Not Guilty.

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Call DUI Attorney Joseph J Higgins for a free case evaluation today at 508-930-4273