Receiving charges for operating under the influence (OUI) can have a greater impact on your life than you may assume. If your OUI charges stem from a first-time offense, you might treat them as no big deal. Yet, doing so is a mistake, since they could lead to a conviction and may remain on your record regardless. In Massachusetts, this can affect you in two different ways.

Driving record

Massachusetts’ OUI laws are among the country’s strictest. Any conviction you receive will stay on your driving record permanently. Yet, you can request to have it removed after 10 years. During this time, though, you will face repercussions for your offense. Your insurance premiums will likely increase. And you may have your license suspended for up to one year following your first offense.

Criminal record

While an OUI arrest will appear on your criminal record, its impact depends on whether it leads to charges or conviction. If it does not, prospective employers – and others performing background checks on you – cannot see it on your record. If you have pending OUI charges or receive a conviction, this information is readily available. Yet, you can motion to expunge an OUI conviction from your criminal record after three years if it was a misdemeanor offense. If your OUI was a felony offense, you must wait seven years to qualify for expunction.

If you are a first-time OUI offender, you may have the option of going through the 24D program. This program will require you to complete probation, as well as an alcohol education course and any other requirements mandated by a judge. If you complete it successfully, your OUI charges will receive dismissal and stay off your criminal record.

OUI charges and convictions can come with serious consequences. Yet, you have ways to minimize their effects on your reputation and livelihood. Consulting with an attorney can help you consider your options for moving forward.