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First Offense Drunk Driving in Massachusetts: The Roadmap to Moving On after a First Drunk Driving Arrest

The Consequences of a First Offense Drunk Driving Arrest in Massachusetts

Massachusetts takes first offense drunk-driving offenses very seriously. Individuals that are arrested for a first offense OUI in Massachusetts face significant consequences.

The criminal and civil penalties for a first drunk-driving offense in Massachusetts include, but are not limited to:

significant jail time; the loss of one’s driver’s license; the requirement to participate in extensive after-care programs; payment of monthly probation fees and court fines; the cost of litigating the criminal case; and increased insurance costs.

After An Arrest for First Offense OUI in Massachusetts

Massachusetts drunk-driving laws require the defendant be given a criminal citation at the time of the arrest. The criminal citation provides the defendant with important information, such as details of the charges against the defendant, as well as information on the date and time of the defendant’s arraignment.

An arraignment in Massachusetts for a first drunk-driving offense provides a critical opportunity for both the defense and prosecution in a drunk-driving case. For this reason alone, it is in the defendant’s own self-interests to retain a Massachusetts drunk-driving as soon as possible after the defendant’s arrest.

The 24D Disposition for First-time Drunk Drivers in Massachusetts

For a first time alleged drunk driver in Massachusetts, a “24D Disposition” is often the defendant’s best option to dispose of the first drunk-driving offense.

The “24D Disposition” is not available to all first-time Massachusetts drunk-drivers. There are many factors the court and the prosecutors will decide before agreeing to a “24D Disposition.”

A defendant eligible for a “24D Disposition” under Massachusetts drunk-driving laws may be able to obtain a hardship license within weeks, if not days, of the defendant’s arrest.

Attorney Anthony Rao, Esq. has been practicing law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 2006. He has extensive experience in the zealous representation of defendants charged with First Offense Drunk Driving in Massachusetts. For a free consultation with Attorney Anthony Rao, Esq. please call 617-953-0836, or email him at



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Operating Under the Influence in Massachusetts: A Brief Overview of the Drunk Driving Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Massachusetts Drunk Driving Statute

Section 24. (1) (a) (1) Whoever, upon any way or in any place to which the public has a right of access, or upon any way or in any place to which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees, operates a motor vehicle with a percentage, by weight, of alcohol in their blood of eight one-hundredths or greater, or while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or of marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants or stimulant substances, all as defined in section one of chapter ninety-four C, or while under the influence from smelling or inhaling the fumes of any substance having the property of releasing toxic vapors as defined in section 18 of chapter 270 shall be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred nor more than five thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than two and one-half years, or both such fine and imprisonment.”

Mass. Gen. Laws Chapter 90, Section 24 (1)(a)(1)

In Massachusetts, the Commonwealth has the luxury of choosing two different paths in efforts to convict an alleged Massachusetts drunk driver on a charge of operating under the influence. The easiest way for the Commonwealth to obtain a guilty verdict against an alleged drunk-driver is to use the breathalyzer test results.

In Massachusetts, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level at or higher than .08. If the alleged drunk-driver submits to a breathalyzer test – and those test results are submitted as evidence to the jury – the Commonwealth must only show that the defendant took the breath-test, and the defendant blew a .08 or higher. This “.08 Per Se” drunk driving case is the easiest and fastest way for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to obtain a guilty verdict against an alleged drunk-driver.

No Breathalyzer Test – The Commonwealth Must Prove The Driver Was Impaired Not Drunk

In Massachusetts, if an alleged drunk-driver does not take the breathalyzer test, the Commonwealth is required to prove the defendant was operating the motor vehicle, on a public way, under the influence of alcohol. The Commonwealth is not required to prove the defendant was “drunk.” Rather, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts only requires the prosecuting attorney prove that the operator of the motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol, and that this impairment influenced the driving of the operator. Indeed, based on the drunk driving laws of Massachusetts:

the Commonwealth is not required to show that the defendant actually drove in an unsafe or erratic manner, but must prove a diminished capacity to operate safely.

Commonwealth v. Connolly, 394 Mass. 169, 173 (1985).

American citizens have rights and liberties. We are not to be arrested without cause. We are entitled to due process. We are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The United States Constitution and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights were created to insure the government is for the people, by the people, and of the people.

Attorney Anthony Rao, Esq. is a zealous advocate for his clients, and he is available for telephone consultations at 617-953-0836, or at his email address: He is a lifelong resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the bedrock of American democracy.

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Civil Motor Vehicle Infraction De Novo Hearings: One More Bite At The Surcharge Apple

In Massachusetts, a civil motor vehicle citation can cost you a lot more than the face value of the ticket itself.  Surchargeable events can stay on your driving record for years, and may cost a driver hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in insurance premiums.  There are ways to fight driving tickets in Massachusetts, and this short article is meant to be a road-map to fighting Massachusetts’ driving tickets.

Clerk Magistrate Hearing: Hitting the Bull’s Eye When Not Looking

After receiving a Massachusetts’ driving citation, a driver is left with two choices.  First, the recipient of a Massachusetts driving ticket may simply pay the ticket.  This is the most common approach.  However, one must understand that paying the ticket itself may not be the only cost involved in obtaining the driving ticket.  In fact, most driving tickets in Massachusetts, such as speeding tickets, negligent operation, and marked-lane violation tickets, may very well be considered surchargeable events, and as such, a driver may be paying for this one alleged violation for years to come.

Further, upon paying the Massachusetts driving ticket, the driver is admitting that the driver in fact committed the act that the Massachusetts police officer has cited the driver for.  You will not have the opportunity to be heard. You are assumed to have violated the Massachusetts driving laws, and you will be considered a risk driver.  Accordingly, your Massachusetts’ driver’s insurance will most likely increase, and it will increase substantially.

The second choice a ticket recipient has is to fight the driving ticket.  In this instance, the driver completes the back of the citation, sends the citation to the appropriate venue, and a clerk-magistrate hearing will be scheduled.  The clerk-magistrate hearing is an opportunity for the driver to request an unbiased party to review the facts of the alleged incident, and determine if the Massachusetts police officer was justified in issuing the citation.  More often than not, the clerk-magistrate will side with the Massachusetts police officer, as the issuance of the ticket itself is evidence that the driver did violate the Massachusetts’ driving laws.  However, a well-prepared driver can present an excellent case that may sway the clerk-magistrate to find the driver “not responsible” and to dismiss the ticket from the driver’s record.

A well-prepared driver will bring pictures, provide testimony, and present witnesses to testify at the clerk-magistrate’s hearing.  Also, the driver will need to have a working-knowledge of the actual offense the driver was cited with.  This is critical, and will allow the driver to craft his argument and create his defense as to why he did not violate the driving regulation as asserted by the Massachusetts police officer.  This will provide an excellent opportunity to not only see the bull’s eye, but to also hit it squarely.

Finally, if the driver is unsuccessful at the Clerk-Magistrate’s hearing, she still has another bite left at the surcharge apple:  The Massachusetts’ Civil Motor Vehicle Infraction De Novo Hearing.

The De Novo Hearing: And the Judge’s Gavel Fell

If a driver is unsuccessful in appealing his citation before the Clerk-Magistrate, he may appeal the Clerk’s decision to a District Court judge.  The District Court judge will hear all evidence and testimony “de novo”, meaning the judge will not take into account the Clerk’s decision, and will look at all of the evidence and will hear all of the testimony without any deference to the clerk’s decision.  These hearings take on a much more formal dressing than the Clerk’s hearing, and a driver should almost always retain counsel to assist with the de novo hearing process.

The Massachusetts’ Civil Motor Vehicle Infraction De Novo hearing looks and feels like a “mini-trial.”  The Massachusetts police officer will take the stand and will testify as to her observations in regards to driver’s alleged violation of Massachusetts’ driver’s law.  The driver will have an opportunity to cross-exam the police officer, and to present a case of her own.  The driver may call witnesses, present evidence such as pictures, and video, and the driver may take the stand and testify on her own behalf.  Further, the driver is allowed to make a summation as to why she should not be held responsible for the alleged violations.

At the completion of the de novo hearing, the judge may only make two findings: “responsible” or “not responsible.”  The judge may not continue the case, or dismiss the citations.  The driver may appeal the judge’s decision; however, success on such an appeal is extremely slim.

It is strongly recommended that if a Massachusetts’ driver is going to fight a Massachusetts’ driving ticket, he should obtain an attorney immediately to make certain he has the best opportunity to avoid paying the ticket, and the surcharges that almost certainly will follow.

Attorney Anthony Rao has been successful in numerous Civil Motor Vehicle Infraction De Novo hearings here in Massachusetts, and may be retained on a flat-fee basis.  He may be reached at 617-953-0836, or at