In Massachusetts, OUI — or operating under the influence — is severely penalized. If the driver is under the age of 21 and cannot legally drink, the punishment increases. Here’s what you should understand about underage OUI and how to get legal help.
Underage OUI Laws in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, there is a “zero-tolerance” policy in place for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21. For drivers over 21, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold is 0.08%, but for younger drivers, it’s just 0.02% — a single alcholic drink or less.
Harsh Penalties for Underage Violators
The legal consequences for OUI by individuals under 21 tend to be more severe than if the same crime were committed by a person over the legal drinking age of 21. Underage drinking and driving may result in higher fines, more jail time, and other penalties.
Say a person over 21 is arrested for OUI and they have a BAC of 0.087%. Since this is not much over the legal limit of 0.08%, they may not face as strict penalties. However, if a minor driver is arrested for OUI and also has a BAC of 0.087%, there’s a larger gap between that and the legal limit of 0.02%. This often results in harsher consequences.
Can You Fight Underage OUI Charges?
Developing a defense strategy for underage OUI charges is similar to how an attorney might develop a strategy to fight against OUI for drivers over 21. Depending on the facts surrounding your case, you may be able to argue:
- That the police had no probable cause or legal right to stop you.
- That the officer who examined you via a breathalyzer or field sobriety tests did not follow established testing protocol when doing so.
- That you have a physical ailment that prevents you from passing field sobriety and BAC tests, such as a leg injury that makes it difficult for you to stand on one leg, or acid reflux that can result in a falsely high BAC.
- That law enforcement officers did not allow you as a minor to contact your parents, guardian, or legal representation prior to questioning you.
Contact an Experienced OUI Lawyer Now
Are you the parent of a minor under 21 charged with drinking and driving, or are you that minor? OUI penalties for underage violators in Massachusetts are harsh. Protect your rights with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call Adams & Kokonowski, LLC now at 413.737.9700.