Failing a Breath Test when arrested for Operating Under the Influence:

If you charged with an OUI/DUI, the consequences can be severe.  If you are arrested for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, you will be asked to consent to a Breathalyzer test to determine your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). If you are 21 years or older and register a BAC of .08 or greater, or if you are under 21 and register a BAC or .02 or greater, your license or right to operate will be suspended for 30 days. Also, if you are between the ages of 18 and 21, you will be required to participate in a Youth Alcohol Program (YAP) and serve an additional 180 day suspension. There are enhanced penalties if you are under 18 and you are arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol. You will be required to serve an additional one year suspension and attend the YAP program.

Chemical Test Refusal when arrested for Operating Under the Influence:

On October 28, 2005, Melanie’s Law was implemented. This greatly increased the penalties for Chemical Test Refusals. Melanie’s Law also mandates that any penalties for OUI be served after the Chemical Test Refusal and/or Youth Alcohol Program (YAP) suspension has been served. Suspensions for both Breath Test Failures and Refusals start immediately on the offense date. There is no longer a 15 day grace period.

Chemical Test Refusal Penalties:

 Age of Driver  Number of Prior OUIs  Suspension Period
 21+  None  180 days
 One  Three years
 Two  Five years
 Three or more  Lifetime
 Under 21  None  Three years
 One  Three years
 Two  Five years
 Three or more  Lifetime
 Any  Prior OUI Serious Bodily Injury  Ten years
 Prior Vehicular Homicide  Lifetime

You are entitled to a Registry hearing for a Chemical Test Refusal (CTR), but you must appear within 15 days of the CTR. These hearings are only conducted at the Boston branch office. There are only three issues that can be challenged during the hearing:

  1. The police officer did not have reasonable grounds for the OUI arrest.
  2. You were not placed under arrest.
  3. You did not refuse the Breathalyzer.

If any of these can be effectively proven, the suspension will be rescinded.

Convictions of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs / Alcohol Program Assignments

Effective November 28, 2002, Massachusetts enacted the Lifetime Look-Back Law. For the purpose of calculating OUI, Vehicular Homicide, and Chemical Test Refusal revocation periods, the RMV must consider your entire history. All OUIs and Alcohol Program assignments, including out-of-state convictions, no matter how old, will count when determining the number of incidents and the associated periods of revocation/suspension. The only exception to the Lifetime Look-Back Law will occur under three specific conditions:

  • Your new OUI is an Alcohol Program assignment.
  • You have only one prior OUI conviction.
  • You have an Alcohol Program that is older than 10 years.

In these cases, your suspension period will be 45 – 90 days, instead of two years. See chart below for more information.

 Description Age of Driver 1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense 4th Offense 5th Offense
 90 24D Alcohol / Drug Program 21+ Years OldUnder 21 45 – 90 days210 days
 OUI Drugs Any One year Two years Eight years Ten years Lifetime
 OUI Liquor Any One year Two years Eight years Ten years Lifetime
 (Out of State) OUI Alcohol / Drugs Any One year Two years Eight years Ten years Lifetime

Since the implementation of Melanie’s Law in October 2005, if you receive a second or subsequent Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs conviction or Alcohol or Drug Program assignment, you will be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in any vehicle that you drive when your license is reinstated or if you are granted a hardship license. The IID must remain installed for two years after the full reinstatement of your license. If you are granted a hardship license, the IID must be installed throughout your hardship license period, and then for two years after full reinstatement.

The penalty for a first offense of Vehicular Homicide is now 15 years. In addition, Manslaughter while Under the Influence carries the same penalties as Vehicular Homicide. A first conviction of Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol With a Child 14 Years of Age or Younger in the Vehicle results in a loss of your right to operate for one year. A second or subsequent conviction will result in a loss of your right to operate for three years. This revocation period will begin at the end of the OUI revocation period.

Information provided by Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles