According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 18% of drivers killed in a traffic accident show evidence of at least one drug in their system. Under Massachusetts law, it is a crime to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs (DUID).
While there is no generally accepted test for determining DUID levels, specifically, Massachusetts law states that a motor vehicle may not be operated “while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or of marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants or stimulant substances, as defined in section one of chapter ninety-four C, or the vapors of glue.”
The penalties are the same as those for operating under the influence (OUI) of alcohol in Massachusetts, with steep fines and penalties. For a first offense, a defendant could be fined from $500 to $5,000, receive a jail term of up to 30 months, and have his or her license suspended for 1 year.
For a second offense, the fine rises to $600 to $10,000, the potential jail term becomes 30 days to 30 months, and the potential license suspension rises to 2 years.
Because there is no specific blood test level for drugs mandated by the law. Whether a driver is impaired is determined at the prosecutor’s discretion on a case-by-case basis.
Legal entitlement to use a drug—ie, that a drug may not be specifically prohibited by law—is not considered an acceptable defense in Massachusetts court.
Refusal to take a test for drugs is acceptable as there is no implied consent law in Massachusetts (ie, the fact of being the driver of a vehicle does not in itself constitute consent, as it does in some states). However, the fact of refusal may be brought to a jury’s attention in the event of a court case.