Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in Massachusetts?

  • Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol concentration is .04 percent or greater. Under Massachusetts law, school bus drivers are commercial drivers.
  • Drivers under 21 are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .02 or greater.

Penalties for Drunk Driving in Massachusetts

  • First-time offenders face imprisonment for up to two and one-half years, a fine of $500 to $5,000, or both. The driver’s license suspension period is 45 to 90 days.
  • A person who commits a second offense faces imprisonment for 60 days to two and one-half years and a fine of $600 to $10,000. The driver’s license revocation period is two years. After one year, the offender may apply for a reinstatement due to hardship. If granted, the offender will be required to use an ignition interlock device for the duration of the hardship license.
  • A person who commits a third offense faces imprisonment for 180 days to two and one-half years and a fine of $1,000 to $15,000, or imprisonment in a state prison for two and one-half to five years and a fine of $1,000 to $15,000. The driver’s license revocation period is eight years. After two years, the offender may apply for a reinstatement due to hardship. If granted, the offender will be required to use an ignition interlock device for the duration of the hardship license.
  • A person who commits a fourth offense faces imprisonment for two years to two and one-half years and a fine of $1,500 to $25,000, or imprisonment in a state prison for two and one-half to five years and a fine of $1,500 to $25,000. The driver’s license suspension period is 10 years. After five years, the offender may apply for a reinstatement due to hardship. If granted, the offender will be required to use an ignition interlock device for the duration of the hardship license.
  • A person who commits a fifth or subsequent offense faces imprisonment for at least two and one-half years or a fine of $2,000 to $50,000 and imprisonment in a state prison for two and one-half years to five years. The offender’s driver’s license will be revoked for life.

Enhanced Penalties for Causing Serious Bodily Injury by Driving While Under the Influence

If a person drives with a BAC of .08 or greater and causes another person to suffer serious bodily injury, the offender will be punished by imprisonment in a state prison for two and one-half to 10 years and a fine of up to $5,000, or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for six months to two and one-half years and a fine of up to $5,000. Under Massachusetts law, “serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or which involves either total disability or the loss or impairment of some bodily function for a substantial time.

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Enhanced Penalties for DUI with a Child 14 or Under in the Vehicle

A person who drives drunk while a child 14 or under is in the vehicle will be guilty of child endangerment while operating a motor vehicle under the influence. This crime is punishable by a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 and imprisonment in a correctional facility for 90 days to two and one-half years. For a second offense, the offender is subject to pay a fine of $5,000 to $10,000 and imprisonment in a correctional facility for six months to two and one-half years, or by imprisonment in a state prison for three to five years.

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Ignition Interlock

Repeat DUI offenders are required to use an ignition interlock device as a precondition to issuance of a new license following revocation for a period of two years.

Commercial Drivers

In addition to other penalties associated with Massachusetts’ DUI laws, a commercial driver who is convicted of DUI while operating any vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for at least one year. If, however, the offender was driving a commercial vehicle and transporting hazardous materials at the time, the disqualification period is three years. If a commercial driver commits a second DUI while driving any vehicle, the offender will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life, which may or may not be reduced to 10 years.

Drivers Under 21

In addition to other penalties that may apply, a driver under 21 who is convicted of DUI for the first time faces a 180-day driver’s license suspension. The offender may be assigned to a program specifically designed to educate and treat those who drive under the influence in lieu of a suspension if the driver is between 18 and 21 years of age. If, however, the underage offender was 17 to 21 and he or she drove with a BAC of .20 or greater, the offender will be assigned to a driver alcohol treatment program known as the “14 day second offender in-home program.” This requirement is in addition to any penalties that may be imposed under the DUI penalties applied to adults.

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Action for Negligence in Sale or Serving Alcoholic Beverages to a Minor or to an Intoxicated Person

Massachusetts law permits actions to be brought against drinking establishments for injuries caused by the negligent sale or service of alcohol to a minor or to an intoxicated person. Although Massachusetts has a statute that prohibits the sale of alcohol to an intoxicated person, a violation of the statute may only be evidence of negligence. Under Massachusetts law, a person who brings an action for negligent sale or service of alcohol to a minor or to an intoxicated person must file an affidavit setting forth sufficient facts to raise a liability question, together with a complaint, within 90 days.

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Criminal Penalties for Furnishing Liquor to a Minor

Anyone who sells or delivers alcohol to a person under 21 with knowledge that the person is underage faces imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

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Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.

Please note: All of our lawyers are licensed to practice in the state of Pennsylvania. We also have lawyers licensed to practice in Ohio, and West Virginia and we associate with experienced attorneys in other states.

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