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Drug and Alcohol Laws in the State of Massachusetts

map of Massachusetts

Article Contents

Drug and alcohol laws in the state of Massachusetts are stringent. They can come with harsh penalties on the first offense too.

DUI Laws In Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, DUI has a broad definition. The state sets a general limit for alcohol, a blood-alcohol count (BAC) of 0.08%, but it’s only a general guideline. Consuming any amount of any intoxicating substance could result in charges.

Zero Tolerance Laws For Massachusetts

Zero tolerance laws in Massachusetts make it illegal to be under 21 and operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.02% or greater. It’s possible to reach a BAC of 0.02% after having a single drink.

Is Marijuana Legal In Massachusetts?

Marijuana is legal in Massachusetts for those 21 and older. There are some limitations though.

A few are below.

  • People can only have up to one ounce in their possession and ten ounces at home.
  • Any amount over one ounce at home must be locked up.
  • Homes with two or more adults can only have up to 12 plants. A single adult maxes out at six.
  • It’s illegal to use marijuana in public or on federal land.
  • It’s illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.
  • Marijuana is not allowed in the passenger area of a vehicle. It must be locked in the glove compartment or in a sealed container in the trunk.

Drug And Alcohol-Related Crimes

Laws are dependent on the type of substance and the individual’s involvement with it.

Types of Drug Crimes in Massachusetts

  • Possession is having any amount of any controlled substance illegally. Medications without a prescription qualify too.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia can apply to anything that might be used with drugs.
  • Possession with the intent to distribute relates to substances and paraphernalia. “Intent to distribute” is usually determined by the amount in one’s possession.
  • Distribution or trafficking includes selling/ transferring an illegal substance or attempting to.
  • Manufacturing or cultivating involves creating an illicit substance or having the equipment to.
  • DUI charges may occur when a person ingests any amount of a substance that causes impairment. This includes prescription medications and street drugs.

Types of Alcohol Crimes in Massachusetts

  • Underage drinking falls under the zero-tolerance policy.
  • Transporting while underage is a crime. The laws make some exceptions though. For example, those with a parent or guardian in the vehicle are exempted from the law. Adults 18-20 can transport for work too.
  • Transporting without a permit involves having large amounts of alcohol without a permit.
  • DUI charges may apply regardless of the amount of alcohol consumed. The state has a BAC limit of 0.08% as well.

Penalties For Drug Or Alcohol Abuse In Massachusetts

Penalties vary based on the substance and individual factors.

DUI Penalties

A DUI can result in as much as 2.5 years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines starting with the first offense. Loss of license for one year is possible too. Penalties increase with the number of arrests. Third and later DUIs are felonies. A fifth is punishable by up to five years in prison and $50,000 in fines. Refusal to submit to a BAC test results in loss of license for at least 180 days.

Zero Tolerance Penalties

Although the limit is lower (0.02% vs 0.08%), the penalties are the same as those over 21. Those who are under 21 and refuse a BAC test automatically lose their license for three years though. The license is suspended for five years on a second occurrence.

Marijuana Penalties

Most minor marijuana charges have a  top fine of $100. Possessing in a vehicle tops out at a $500 fine. Giving marijuana or accessories to anyone under 21 is more extreme. Up to one year of imprisonment and $2,000 in fines may occur.  

Penalties for Other Substances

  • Class A & B includes opiates like heroin and methadone. Charges beyond possession are punishable by up to ten years in jail and $10,000 in fines on the first offense.
  • Class C ranges from psilocybin through diazepam. Charges beyond possession are punishable by up to five years in jail and $5,000 in fines on the first offense.
  • Class D ranges from barbital through marijuana. Charges beyond possession are punishable by up to two years in jail and $5,000 in fines on the first offense.
  • Class E involves limited quantities of narcotics. Charges beyond possession are punishable by up to nine months in jail and $2,500 in fines on the first offense.

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Written by Recovering Champions Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.
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