Cape Cod DUI Attorneys

Have you been charged with a Third OUI Offense?
Get help fast.

A Third OUI can put a felony on your record…unless you fight the case and win. Let’s get to work.

If you’ve recently been charged with a Third OUI Offense in the state of Massachusetts, you’re facing a very different situation than someone charged with a First or Second Offense. A Third OUI is a felony that, upon conviction, comes with a minimum mandatory jail sentence. When you’re staring down the possibility of going to jail, your family, career, and reputation are understandably at the front of your mind.

Don’t panic. We’re here to help.

The impact on your life is not lost on Attorneys Milligan and Higgins, and these same concerns will be at the front of our minds when we defend you in court.

The truth is, the stakes are high and the ramifications are significant, but the outcome of the case is not decided and you have a right to a fair trial. The state must walk a fine line and uphold a high standard of proof to establish guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. You are innocent until proven guilty.

Our firm practices 100% DUI defense. Our experience in both defending and prosecuting Massachusetts OUI cases gives us the advantage.

Call or Text Now For A Free Case Evaluation 24/7
(617) 851-7155

Boston Office
867 Boylston Street
Suite 500
Boston MA 02116

Southshore Office
269 Hanover Street
Building One,
Hanover, MA 02339

While pleading/admitting to the charge is always an option, there is little benefit to doing so on a Third Offense OUI due to the mandatory minimum jail sentence. You will most often receive the same sentence for pleading/admitting to a Third Offense OUI that you’d receive if you fought the case and lost. But if you fight the case and win, you can move on with your life. The choice is clear. Let’s get started on building an effective defense.

Penalties For OUI Third Offense

The law for a Third Offense OUI can be somewhat complicated and difficult to read. Here’s a plain language summary derived from Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, § 24—the Massachusetts OUI law. Should you have any questions, please call or text Attorneys Higgins and Milligan at (617) 217-4450 to get answers fast.

Third Offense OUI Penalties:

Fine of between $1,000 and $15,000; Incarceration for not less than 180 days nor more than 2.5 years in the House of Correction; Incarceration in state prison for not less than 2.5 years nor more than 5 years if you are indicted and prosecuted in Superior Court. Any period of incarceration cannot be suspended, nor may you be placed on probation, furlough, or be eligible for parole, or receive any reduction in your sentence until 150 days (minimum mandatory) of your sentence has been served incarcerated.

Third Offense OUI Fees and Other Fines:

$65/month Probation Service Fee; $250 Head Injury Assessment; $50 Victims of Drunk Driving Fee, and more.

Third Offense OUI License Loss:

8 years (eligible for 12-hour Hardship License after 2 years of the 8-year suspension)

Subsequent Offender Status:

Effective November 30, 2002, “Repeat offender” status for Drunk Driving (OUI, DUI, DWI) cases is determined in Massachusetts based upon a “Lifetime Lookback.” So even if you had two OUI, DUI, DWI 30 years ago they will still count, making this your third offense. A previous Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF) with an assignment to an alcohol education program will count as a first offense.  Additionally, if you have been charged with an OUI, DUI, DWI in another state with a Massachusetts Driver’s License then you may also be treated as a multiple offender.

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Additional Breath Test-Related License Loss

• If you are above the age of 21 and refused the Breath Test: 5 Years
• If you are under the age of 21 and refused the Breath Test: 5 Years
• If you are above the age of 21 and failed the Breath Test (+ 0.08): 30 Days
• If you are under the age of 21, took the Breath Test and produced a reading of 0.02 or greater: 30 days plus an additional 180 days, for a total of 210 days 

Hardship License Requirements:

You will be eligible for 12-hour Hardship License 2 years into your 8-year suspension. If you are granted a hardship license, you will be subject to the Ignition Interlock Requirement for the duration of your Hardship License and for 2 additional years after your regular license has been restored. After 4 years of your 8-year suspension, you will be eligible for a new license on a limited basis with conditions deemed appropriate by the RMV and subject to the Ignition Interlock requirement.

Option 1: Fight The Case

Challenge the charge that has been brought against you. This option involves going to one of the district courts that serve Cape Cod and putting it on the government to meet their burden of proof, filing motions against the admissibility of evidence, and in most instances, exercising your constitutional right to a trial—all in an effort to obtain you a Not Guilty verdict. The government may want to use breathalyzer test results against you in addition to other diagnostic, circumstantial, or witness evidence. It’s worth fighting your case, especially for a serious third OUI charge, because critical evidence for the prosecution may ultimately end up inadmissible in court.

If you fight the case and win, upon order of the court your driver’s license will be reinstatedsubject to a $500 reinstatement fee at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

If you fight the case and lose, the penalties will likely be as listed above. If you lose after a trial, you will receive a conviction.

Option 2: Plea/Admit

It will be tough to take a plea on a Third or subsequent offense. This is rarely the best option available to you, as DUI plea bargain statistics show that it will not lead to a lighter sentence the way it often can for a first or second offense. The outcome will generally be similar, if not identical, to the one you’d get if you lost the case outright.

Submit A Free Case Evaluation or call (508) 217-4450 at any time of day or night to discuss your situation with our firm for free.

Your First Day in Court: The Arraignment

If you were arrested for a Third Offense DUI, the first time you will appear in court is for your “arraignment.” This is a procedural event with only a few simple steps. Here’s what to expect when you get to the courthouse.


When you arrive at the courthouse you need to check into the probation department where a probation officer will get some biographical information from you in order to check on your criminal history. They ask you these questions to assess your eligibility for a court-appointed lawyer.


Once you’ve completed this process, you will be directed to the First Session/Main Session courtroom, where you will wait for your case to be called. When your case is called, the court will go forward with an ARRAIGNMENT, which is a formal way for the court to charge you with a crime.  The Clerk will read off the complaint and enter pleas of Not Guilty on your behalf.


You will be released on your personal recognizance. This means you’ll be permitted to leave the courthouse without paying bail on the promise that you will return for your next court date. The judge will give you this “pre-trial conference” date, which will often be months later.


The court will also inquire about your intentions to hire a lawyer.  The court will expect you to have a lawyer by the next court date. Depending on the facts of your case and your criminal record, it is possible that you may have to post an amount of bail.

Frequently Asked Questions: Third Offense OUI

If convicted on a Third Offense, yes. A conviction on a Third Offense OUI mandates a jail sentence of at least 180 days, 150 days of which must be served incarcerated. Given this reality, there is little incentive to plea/admit to a Third Offense OUI. Your best bet to avoid jail time is to go to trial and beat the charges in court or to have the case dismissed.

Your jail sentence will likely be what is known as a “split sentence.” This means that only part of your jail sentence will be served incarcerated, while the balance of the sentence will be suspended for a period of probation. If you violate your probation and the court finds that you are in violation, you will go back to jail to serve the remainder of your sentence.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles does not issue Hardship (or commonly referred to as “Cinderella”) Licenses for Breath Test Refusal or Failure Suspensions. If you refused the Breath Test on a charged Third Offense OUI, your license is suspended for a period of 5 years. If you win your case, upon order of the court, your license will be reinstated. If you lose your case, an additional 8-year suspension will be imposed by the court and you will not be eligible for Hardship License consideration until your 5-year Refusal Suspension has run. When and if you are issued a Hardship License, you will be subject to the Ignition Interlock Requirement for the duration of your Hardship License plus 2 years on a regular license. 

Note that if you refused the Breath Test and have suffered a 5-year Refusal Suspension, the 8-year suspension will run CONSECUTIVE to the Refusal Suspension. In other words, you will not be eligible for Hardship License consideration until after the 5-year Refusal Suspension + 2 years of the court-imposed suspension (total 7 years) have been served.

Simply put, an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a handheld Breathalyzer machine in your car. The machine is electronically connected to the vehicle’s ignition and requires that you demonstrate a BAC of less than .02 in order for the vehicle to start. While you are driving, you will also be required to blow into the machine at random intervals. Anyone who has two or more OUIs is required by law to have an IID installed in any vehicle they own, lease or operate. The IID will be required for the duration of any Hardship License, plus two additional years on a regular license.

No, the jury will not know that you have a prior OUI. In Massachusetts, subsequent offense OUIs are treated in a bifurcated fashion. You will have a trial on the issue of whether or not you are guilty of operating under the influence of alcohol on the date of your most recent arrest. Only if the Commonwealth proves you guilty of OUI will you move on to a second trial where the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are the same person whom, on a prior occasion, was convicted or sentenced to an alcohol education program for a similar or like offense on two prior occasions.

Once you are arraigned there will be an entry on both your driving record and criminal record indicating that you have been charged with a crime. This entry will remain on these records regardless of the outcome of your case. You can, however, at a later date petition the court to have the criminal record of this charge sealed.

A Third Offense OUI is a felony. You’re still able to find employment with a Third OUI on your record, but it may create some challenges or ineligibility in certain fields. Whether your prospective employer will discover it will depend on the level of clearance they have to access your record in CORI checks. Whether you will be required to disclose it depends upon where you fall in the application process and how the question is posed. Consult with a lawyer for further insights.

Top-Rated Third OUI Defense Lawyers in Massachusetts


Attorney James Milligan is a top-rated Massachusetts Third OUI DWI DUI defense lawyer and over 150+ five-star reviews. He is one of just a few lawyers in Massachusetts who is board certified in drunk driving defense as recognized by the American Bar Association. Concentrating his practice entirely on Massachusetts drunk driving defense, OUI defense, DUI defense, and DWI defense, Attorney Milligan is often the best resource for other lawyers representing a client charged with drunk driving.


Joseph J. Higgins has been named a “Superb” DUI Defense Attorney by Avvo with a 10.0 client rating. Attorney Higgin’s previous experience as DUI prosecutor has given him an inside perspective on how best to represent people charged with a Third OUI in Massachusetts. He devotes his entire practice of law to specialized DUI/OUI Defense and has been recognized by The National College for DUI Defense for his dedication and commitment to this area of the law. Attorney Higgins has also been identified by Super Lawyers Magazine as a Massachusetts “Rising Star” in DUI/DWI Defense. This distinction is limited to only 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state.

Don't take another chance.

It’s in your best interest to find the right DUI lawyer. Your choice can mean the difference between paying a good attorney now or paying the rest of your life with a criminal record.

Call (617) 217-4450 today for a free case evaluation.

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