Massachusetts RMV Board of Appeals interpretation of like OUI offense upheld in recent case

How does the RMV in Massachusetts determine if an out-of-state DUI conviction should count as a prior offense in Massachusetts?  When a motorist is charged with an OUI offense in Massachusetts, the offense level is determined by the number of prior offenses that the person has in their lifetime. This includes out-of-state offenses.

Prior offenses from another State count as a prior offense in Massachusetts if the DUI law in that state is substantially similar to Massachusetts OUI laws, which are contained in Chapter 90 Section 24.

Does a DUI Conviction in New York Count as a prior offense in Massachusetts?

In the case of Commonwealth v. Callahan, the Massachusetts Appeals Court address whether New York’s DUI law is substantially similar to Massachusetts. In the Callahan case, the defendant was contesting whether her 1989 Conviction for Driving While Impaired in New York counts as a prior conviction in Massachusetts. The defendant Callahan was convicted of motor vehicle homicide in Massachusetts. The issues was the length of her license loss; if she had a prior OUI conviction, it is a lifetime loss while if she had no previous convictions she would have had a 15 year license loss.  The Appeals Court agreed with the RMV Board of Appeals and found that the New York DUI statute was substantially similar to the Massachusetts statute and upheld the lifetime license loss.  To read the Court decision in Callahan you can find it on the Justia website.

Many states have different levels of DUI offenses. The Massachusetts OUI lawyer representing Callahan argued that because the New York offense was designated as a traffic infraction, it could not count as a prior offense. The Appeals Court found the New York offense substantially similar.

In handling these cases on a daily basis, this issue comes up frequently, where the difference between whether an offense is a 3rd or 4th offense may depend on the treatment of the prior offense by that State. The district attorney will sometimes agree to reduce an offense level based on the difficulty of proving an out-of-state conviction; however, the RMV will count all offenses even if the district attorney agrees to a reduction in court.

To contest the offense level of an OUI suspension, a motorist would appeal to the Massachusetts Board of Appeals.  The process can be very technical, but Attorney DelSignore and Julie Gaudreau frequently appear before the Board of Appeals on license suspension issues.  These issues range from OUI license suspensions, immediate threat suspensions and request for hardship licenses.  Feel free to contact our offense to learn your options in restoring your license.

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