Massachusetts Drugged Driving

In Massachusetts, a person is guilty of a DUI if the person drives while under the influence of marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants or stimulant substances. Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 90 § 24(1)(a)(1) (West 2010).

Implied Consent

In Massachusetts, a person suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol has, by virtue of driving in the state, consented to provide a sample of breath, blood, or urine to police for testing in order to determine the amount of alcohol in his or her system. However, implied consent law does not require that an individual suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana or controlled substance submit to a chemical test in order to screen for the presence of drugs in his or her body. Ergo, in Massachusetts a chemical sample from an accused person should only be given on a voluntarily basis, and no penalties or sanctions apply for refusal to submit to chemical testing for drugs.


  • First offense – not more than 30 months of house arrest; fine of $500-$5,000; license suspension for 1 year. NOTE: Alternative disposition available – probation with mandated participation in abuse counseling, license suspension for 45-90 days. Id. § 24(1)(a)(1).
  • Second offense – incarceration for not less than 60 days (30 day mandatory minimum), but not more than 30 months; fine of $600-$10,000; license suspension for 2 years. NOTE: Alternative disposition available – probation, 2-week confined treatment program, License suspension for two years. Id. § 24(1)(a)(1).
  • Third offense felony – incarceration for not less than 180 days (150 day mandatory), but not more than 5 years state prison; fine of $1,000-$15,000; license suspension for 8 years. Id. § 24(1)(a)(1).
  • Fourth offense felony – incarceration for not less than 2 years (1 year Minimum Mandatory), but not more than 5 years; fine of $1,500-$25,000; license suspension for 10 years. Id. § 24(1)(a)(1).
  • Fifth offense felony – incarceration for not less than 30 months, 24 months mandatory minimum, but not more than 5 years; fine of $2,000-$50,000; loss of license for life. Id. § 24(1)(a)(1).

Sobriety Checkpoints

In Massachusetts, sobriety checkpoints are upheld under both the state and federal constitutions.

  • Commonwealth has the burden of proving that sobriety checkpoint is reasonably operated in accordance with established guidelines, but showing of probable cause for stop is not required. Commonwealth v. Shields, 521 N.E.2d 987 (Mass. 1988)
  • Massachusetts courts have upheld drunk-driving roadblocks, but rules random roadblocks to seize narcotics violate Massachusetts constitution. Com. v. Rodriguez, 722 N.E.2d 429 (2000).

Case Law

Com. v. Connolly, 474 N.E.2d 1106 (1985) — In order to obtain conviction for DUI, Commonwealth need not prove defendant actually drove unskillfully or carelessly.

Com. v. Plowman, 548 N.E.2d 1278, 1281 (1990) — Massachusetts Supreme Court defined the meaning of “operation” as ‘intentionally do[ing] any act or make[ing] use of any mechanical or electrical agency which alone or in sequence will set in motion the motive power of that vehicle.” This remains the definition of “operation” today….Under this definition, evidence that an intoxicated person was observed sleeping in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle, with keys in the ignition and the engine running, by itself, does not mandate a finding of “operation” under G.L. c. 90, § 24.”