What Factors can Enhance or Aggravate OUI Charges in Massachusetts?
Typically, any sort of an accident or having multiple offenses will be aggravating factors. Specifically, if you cause another person injury as a result of an accident caused by your driving, the charge is referred to as OUI with serious bodily injury. There are two parts to this: the operation of the vehicle was so negligent or reckless as to endanger others, and you cause serious bodily injury. This charge is a felony.
OUI with serious bodily injury has a mandatory minimum of six months in jail should you be convicted. There are two alternative penalties: state prison for a term between two and a half years and ten years, or a house of correction facility between six months and two and a half years. But either way, there is a six-month mandatory minimum sentence that must be served. Then there’s a lesser charge within that same statute where negligent or reckless operation is not proved, but the under the influence with serious bodily injury is. This has a lesser penalty. It’s not a felony but a misdemeanor, with a term of up to two years in a house of correction facility, as well as the possibility of some fines. There’s also a two-year loss of license.
Serious bodily injury is defined as a substantial risk of death, total disability, or a loss or substantial impairment of some bodily function for a substantial period of time.
What Sets Your Firm Apart in Handling OUI Cases?
We do not want to just rush to judgment and rush to a plea. There are a lot of lawyers out there that will just take a fee, run into court and plead you out on the first day. I try and discourage most clients from doing this because of the long-reaching effects that a conviction can have. We like to reserve judgment, at least until we have gotten the discovery from the prosecutor. That way we can see where the case is likely to go and examine all of the defense options prior to making the decision on a plea. I believe that if we can beat a case, we should try to do that. Obviously, it is up to you to decide how you want to us handle it, but we try to discourage clients from just rushing in and taking a quick plea.
The other important thing to note, though, is if you see a Continuation Without a Finding, or CWOF, as it is referred to in Massachusetts, it is not considered a conviction for most purposes; but if you do pick up another OUI down the line, that CWOF does count as a first offense. That is why it is important not to rush to take a quick plea because you can be putting yourself in jeopardy down the line.