Massachusetts law about drunk or drugged driving

Laws, regulations, cases and web sources on operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

In general

Mass. General Laws c. 90:

  • § 24 Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • § 24D Probation, alcohol education, alcohol treatment
  • § 24E Dismissal of charges upon compliance with terms of probation
  • § 24I Possession of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles
  • § 24J Inquiry of defendant convicted of driving under influence of intoxicating liquors as to establishment serving alcohol
  • § 24K Chemical breath analysis; validity; testing procedures; report forms
  • § 24L Serious bodily injury by motor vehicle while under influence of intoxicating substance
  • § 24N Suspension of operator's license upon issuance of complaint; hearing
  • § 24P Minors; further violations; education and treatment programs
  • § 24Q Alcohol or drug assessment as condition for certain sentences imposed under chapter
  • § 24R Revocation for life of license or right to operate
  • § 24V Child endangerment while operating a motor vehicle or vessel under the influence; penalties; suspension of license
  • § 24W Forfeiture of motor vehicle owned by certain drunk driving offenders; procedure; operating under the Influence Deterrent Trust Fund
  • § 24X Cancellation of registration for motor vehicles owned by certain drunk driving offenders

Ignition interlock devices

  • § 24-1/2 Ignition interlock devices
  • § 24S Operation of motor vehicle on public way in violation of ignition interlock device license restriction; penalties
  • § 24T Tampering with ignition interlock device; penalties
  • § 24U Starting motor vehicle equipped with ignition interlock device for another person under a restricted license

Massachusetts regulations

501 CMR 2 Safe roads (breath testing)

540 CMR 25 Ignition interlock devices

Massachusetts court rules and jury instructions

Court rules

District Court Standing Order 1-08 Petitions for judicial review of license suspension for chemical test refusal

Jury instructions

Criminal Model Jury Instruction 5.300: Operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor or with a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater, Mass. District Court.

Criminal Model Jury Instruction 5.310: Operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor, Mass. District Court.

Model jury instruction regarding roadside assessments for use in prosecutions for operating under the influence of marijuana
Published in: Commonwealth v. Gerhardt, 477 Mass. 775 (2017) Appendix

Federal laws and regulations

Public Law 117-58 - Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
Includes a section titled “Advanced Impaired Driving Technology,” which allows the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to initiate the rulemaking process for setting a new automobile safety standard. This standard mandates that all new cars be equipped with "advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology" by 2026.

36 CFR 4.23 Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs in federal parks

Selected cases

Testing and devices

Approved breath testing instruments, Mass. State Police, Office of Alcohol Testing, 2018.

DWI detection and standardized field sobriety test (SFST) instructor guide, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
"The 2018 update of the Administrator's Guide provides an introduction and overview of the DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) Training Program. It is intended to facilitate planning and implementation of the DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) Testing Course."

DWI detection and standardized field sobriety test (SFST) participant manual, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
This is the 2018 update to the Participant's Manual for the DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) Training Program. The training curriculum collectively prepares police officers and other qualified persons to conduct the SFST's for use in DWI investigations.

Ignition interlock device program, Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Explains some of the details of who needs a device, how to obtain one, and how they work.

Alcotest 9510 machines

Comm. v. Ananias Memorandum of Decision on Commonwealth's Motion to Admit Breath Test Results, July 29, 2019.
Breath tests from the Draegor Alcotest 9510 are once again admissible for "all Alcotest 9510 machines calibrated and certified on or after April 18, 2019."  A January 2019 settlement agreement had presumptively excluded such tests until certain changes were made to ensure their reliability. See Breathalyzers temporarily not admissible in court, judge rules, Boston Herald, January 10, 2019.

State misconduct puts 27,000 drunken driving convictions at risk, Mass. high court rules, WBUR, April 27, 2023.
Cases from June 1, 2011, through April 18, 2019, that involved the use of the Alcotest 9510 device, are "entitled to a conclusive presumption of egregious government misconduct."

Use of breathalyzers suspended, pending evidentiary hearing in Com v. Ananias, et al., November 17, 2021.
Judge Brennan ordered all use of breath tests to be suspended, pending an evidentiary hearing on whether the Draeger Alcotest 9510 breath tests were reliable.

Web sources

Alcohol and drug suspensions for over 21 years of age, Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Provides the Registry of Motor Vehicles' policies related to alcohol or drug suspensions/revocations for customers over the age of 21. Includes tables outlining the penalties under the law.

Breath Test Litigation update: A new framework for assessing OUI convictions impacted by the office of alcohol testing’s misconduct, Boston Bar Association, November 7, 2023.
Provides an update on the cases surrounding the breathalyzer devices including Commonwealth v. Hallinan and Commonwealth v. Ananias.

DUI and DWI in Massachusetts,
This commercial site brings together a great summary of the provisions of Massachusetts law related to drunk driving.

Federal DUI Laws, Findlaw.
"Information about federal DUI laws, including a definition of what constitutes “federal land,” and the elements of a federal DUI."

Reinstate your driver’s license, Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles.
"The RMV can allow the reinstatement of a suspension/revocation action. The requirements to do so vary by suspension type."

Subscription & print sources

Online subscription sources

Contact your Trial Court Law Library for information from this valuable online book:

Massachusetts Prosecutors’ Guide, 41st edition, 2021. 
“The Guide presents a timely and comprehensive analysis of Massachusetts criminal law and its practice in the courts of the Commonwealth. It is fully updated each fall and during the year as new developments in the law warrant.”

Print sources

Drunk driving defense (Mass. Practice v.50), West, annual softcover.

LexisNexis practice guide: Massachusetts OUI law, Lexis, annual.

Massachusetts motor vehicle stops: judicial reference guide, Flaschner Judicial Institute, 2023 ed., chapter 27 OUI Detection.

Motor vehicle law and practice, 5th ed. (Mass Practice v.12), Thomson Reuters, 2021 with supplement.
Chapter 17 sections 17:64 to 17:83 - Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Representing the OUI client, Mass. Bar Institute, 2011.

Trying OUI cases in Massachusetts, MCLE, 2nd ed., loose-leaf.

Understanding breath testing, MCLE, 2018.

Contact   for Massachusetts law about drunk or drugged driving

Last updated: July 9, 2024

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