The DUIL Program & “Habitual Drunkenness”

Those convicted of a 2nd of subsequent operating under the influence offense (OUI) are often assigned to an alcohol education program approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The 2nd offense OUI program is known as the Massachusetts DUIL Program. The program is operated by the Middlesex Human Service Agency and the acronym DUIL stands for Driving Under the Influence of Liquor. This program assignment is often made as a condition of probation. In order to satisfy this probation condition, the person convicted of a repeat offense DUI must satisfactorily complete a 14 day in-patient component which is held at Tewksbury State Hospital.

Massachusetts DUIL program attendance may disqualify a person from holding a Firearms Identification Card or License to Carry Firearms (LTC) in Massachusetts. Competing this program may cause a Chief of Police or Licensing Authority to deny you a firearms license, including a LTC, because G.L. c. 140 § 131 statutorily disqualifies a person who “is or has been under treatment for or confinement for drug addiction or habitual drunkenness.” Some licensing officials have decided that being treated at the DUIL program qualifies as “treatment” or “confinement” for “habitual drunkenness.”

Interpreting completion of the DUIL program as “confinement” is wrong because a person is not “confined” at the program. Attendees are not locked in or incarcerated while attending the DUIL program at Tewksbury State Hospital, which is not a correctional facility.  Attendees are free to leave the program. Of course, leaving the program will likely result in a violation of probation. However, those who participate in the alcohol education program are not “confined” there.

Secondly, all that is required to convict someone of DUI is that the person operated a motor vehicle on a public way or public right of access while they were “under the influence” of alcohol. The law does not require that the person was “drunk.” The law only requires that a person’s ability to drive safely was diminished by alcohol, not that the person was intoxicated or drunk. Therefore, someone could be assigned to complete the DUIL program without ever having been drunk.

Fortunately, for LTC applicants and Mass. Firearms license holders dealing with this issue, Massachusetts Firearms Lawyers such as Attorney Jesse Cohen have been able to overcome this obstacle when it comes to LTC applications, renewals, and suspensions. If you have been denied a firearms license due to confinement or treatment for what some are calling “habitual drunkenness,” you should contact a lawyer to discuss your situation and ways to resolve this issue.