Maybe you had one too many at happy hour or a summer get-together. You felt you were sober enough to safely drive home. The police, however, may not agree. Before you know it, you are being arrested for operating under the influence (OUI) even if your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit.
Driving with a BAC of 0.08 or above
Under Massachusetts law, if your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you can be arrested for drunk driving. It is easy to see why. If your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you can have trouble concentrating, you can experience short-term memory loss and your reaction time and ability to detect danger decline. You may weave between lanes, ignore traffic signs and signals, speed, or even go the wrong way down the street.
A BAC of 0.08 or above proves per se that you were intoxicated at the time of your arrest. This means no other proof of intoxication is necessary to be charged with an OUI.
Driving with a BAC below 0.08
However, Massachusetts law also prohibits driving “under the influence of intoxicating liquor.” This means that you can be arrested for drunk driving if you have any amount of alcohol in your system and it is causing you to drive in an unsafe manner.
Oftentimes the arrest is based on field sobriety tests and police observations. However, you are not considered drunk per se, and the prosecution in your OUI case bears the burden of proving you were driving unsafely due to intoxication. This can be very difficult to do.
Do not lose hope if you are charged with an OUI
If you are charged with OUI, you may feel like the odds are stacked against you and you will be convicted. However, do not lose hope. There may be defenses in your case that could lead to a reduction in charges. The charges against you could even be dropped with the right defense.
The first step to take is to ensure you understand what it means to be charged with OUI in Massachusetts. A criminal defense attorney can be key to ensuring your rights are protected throughout your case.