If a recent drunk driving arrest was your first encounter with law enforcement, you may have many questions. While other states may call the charge DUI or DWI, in Massachusetts, the charge is Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence, or OUI. What you may not realize is that operating a motor vehicle may not always mean what you think.
In addition to driving home in your car after drinking too much, you may be at risk of an OUI arrest in a variety of other situations. Because the circumstances of an OUI arrest can be questionable, you would be wise to reach out for legal advice as quickly as possible after your arrest.
Even though a Massachusetts drunk driving charge refers to operating a motor vehicle, you may be surprised to learn that “operating” does not always mean sitting behind the wheel with the motor running. You may decide to pull over and take a nap until you feel better able to safely drive. You may even climb over to the passenger side or into the back seat. However, as long as you have access to the keys, the gear shift, even the radio, police may consider you to be operating the vehicle.
The term “motor vehicle” does not have to mean your car, SUV or pickup truck. A motor vehicle may be any vehicle with a motor, including a motorcycle, tractor or other farm equipment, scooter, or lawn mower. As long as you are operating the vehicle on public property, including a parking lot, and your blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher, you are at risk of arrest for OUI.
On the other hand, an arrest for boating under the influence, or BUI, is not limited to operating a motorized watercraft. You may face arrest for a .08 BAC on any water vessel, including a canoe, water skis or jet-ski. An arrest for BUI likely follows the same procedure as an OUI on land, including field sobriety tests and BAC tests, and you can expect to face the same levels of penalties for a conviction.
What are those penalties?
A conviction for OUI can bring consequences that can change your life. Massachusetts penalties are severe, including the possibility of months to years in jail, even for a first offense. You may risk thousands in fines and fees and the suspension of your driver’s license. With so much at stake, you would be wise not to face this alone. A skilled attorney can examine the evidence against you and guide you in the most appropriate course of action.