If you have a drunk driving conviction in the state of Massachusetts, are there alternatives to the loss of driving privileges or the prospect of jail time?
Upon probation approval, the judge in the District Court who hears your case may refer you to a first-offender Driver Alcohol Education program or a second offender alcohol treatment program.
The DAE program
The Driver Alcohol Education program is available to first-time drunk driving offenders. The option allows people to avoid losing their driver’s license for an extended period or from having to spend time in jail. Although the District Court usually makes the referrals, the Registry of Motor Vehicles may approve participation for a driver under the age of 21. According to Massachusetts General Law, the alcohol treatment or rehabilitation programs offered include a public or private out-patient facility, hospital, self-help group, employer- or union-sponsored program or Department of Public Health program.
With an OUI conviction, you must surrender your driver’s license to the probation department. However, when you enter a DAE program, you can apply to the registrar for a hardship license so you can continue to drive to work or school. Be aware that the license has limits: It will only be valid for 12-hour periods seven days a week. If you fail either to complete the DAE program or comply with the terms of your probation, you forfeit the hardship license.
For second offenders
If you are a second offender convicted of OUI, the District Court that hears your case may refer you to the 14-Day Residential Program for Driving Under the Influence of Liquor, or DUIL. This program includes a medical evaluation, counseling, education that includes self-help information and assignment to a Second Offender Aftercare Program. The DUIL program is an alternative to 30 days in jail.
If law enforcement arrests you on suspicion of OUI, explore your legal options at once, especially because this may be your first encounter with the law. The best outcome for your case requires a strong defense with the possibility of options that allow you to avoid jail and continue driving.