If you live in Massachusetts (MA) or plan on visiting the state soon, you might be wondering what the drug and alcohol laws are. We’ve listed some of the facts you need to know below.

DUI Laws in MA

Driving under the influence of intoxicants is prohibited in Massachusetts and the U.S. in general. For adults over 21, this refers to driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.08%.

The state of MA allows for sobriety checkpoints. Drivers can expect random checks and if police suspect impairment, they can give drivers breath or blood tests in accordance with the implied consent law. Arrested drivers who refuse testing can receive penalties such as longer licence suspensions and further criminal charges.

Repeat DUI offenders are subject to ‘Melanie’s Law’. In Massachusetts, this law requires ignition interlock devices (IID) to be installed in the driver’s car/s for at least two years after driving privileges are restored. IIDs measure alcohol on the driver’s breath. A BAC above 0.02% will prevent the car from starting.

Zero Tolerance Laws in MA

In Massachusetts, the BAC limit for minors is 0.02%. Even small amounts of alcohol such as wine with a meal can reach this level. This is far lower than the legal limit and reflects a zero tolerance policy towards drinking under the age of 21.

Is Marijuana Legal in MA?

Yes. Marijuana is legal in the Commonwealth for users who are 21 and older. This applies to both medical and leisure use. There are, however, laws that you need to be aware of.

  • Driving/operating a vehicle under the influence (OUI) of cannabis is unlawful.
  • You can’t use marijuana in public or on federal land.
  • As with alcohol, you have to store marijuana in a closed container in your trunk or glove compartment.
  • You can only have up to one ounce on you at any given time. Any amount above that and up to ten ounces needs to be locked away in your home.
  • As an individual, you can grow up to 6 plants at your residence. If you live with other adults, the number of plants can’t go over 12. These plants need to be concealed from the public.

Also, different employers have different rules for marijuana consumption. It’s best to check what your company’s code of conduct allows.

Drug and Alcohol-Related Crimes in MA

In addition to the laws listed above, the following actions are considered criminal in the Commonwealth.

  • Being somewhere if you know illicit drugs like heroin are kept there.
  • Being in the company of someone if you know they have illicit drugs on them.
  • Possessing illicit drugs incurs penalties relative to the substance and the quantity on hand.
  • Owning and selling accessories for illicit drug use
  • Producing and distributing illicit drugs
  • Transporting large amounts of alcohol without a liquor licence
  • Transporting any amount of alcohol if underage

Penalties for Drug and Alcohol Abuse in MA

Alcohol-Related Penalties

  • Selling or delivering alcohol to minors can incur fines up to $2,000 and/or six months in prison.
  • Using a false ID to get alcohol incurs a fine of $300.
  • In terms of DUIs, penalties depend on the circumstances of the offense and whether the driver is a repeat offender or not. Licences can be suspended for one to eight years. Fines range from $500 to $15,000, and prison time ranges from two years to five years.
  • Aggravated DUIs where BACs are double the legal limit receive enhanced penalties. There is potential for longer prison terms, bigger fines, and vehicle confiscation. The same goes for driving with minors or in school zones.
  • An underage driver who does a test and is found to have a BAC of 0.02% will have to undergo a 180-day suspension. If they are under 18, the licence suspension is a year long. Penalties can be minimized if the driver completes the Youth Alcohol Program.

Cannabis-Related Penalties

  • Federal law states that distributing drugs to those under 21 receives double the normal penalty.
  • In MA, if a person is found to have more than an ounce of cannabis on them, they are subject to misdemeanor charges. This includes a $500 fine and up to six months of jail time for first time offenders and a $2,000 fine and two years in prison for repeat offenders.

In most cases, second and third-time offenses are punished to greater degrees.

Please note that while we strive to provide updated information, the legal environment is dynamic. Consult with a local lawyer before making decisions that could lead to drug or alcohol charges.

Treatment for Substance Abuse

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, we urge you to seek help. Excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol can cause your life to spiral out of control. Treatment helps you retake the reins and get back on track. Call Rehab Adviser to discuss the best options for you.


  1. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/marijuana-in-massachusetts-whats-legal
  2. https://dui.drivinglaws.org/mass.php
  3. https://dui.findlaw.com/dui-laws-resources/massachusetts-oui-laws.html
  4. https://norml.org/laws/item/massachusetts-penalties-2
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/impaired_driving/Drunk_Driving_in_MA.pdf

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