May 4, 2014

Massachusetts State Trooper Indicted for Vehicular Homicide OUI / DUI


A Massachusetts State Police Trooper was indicted this past week by a Plymouth County Grand Jury in connection with an accident last year that resulted in the death of Susan Macchi and her daughter, Juliet Macchi, 23. The trooper was charged with vehicular homicide while operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation, and carrying a firearm while intoxicated.

A trooper since 2012, he is alleged to have struck the victims car on in Plymouth and to have been driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.19% on his way home after leaving a party. The presumptive 'limit' in Massachusetts is 0.08%. Although there weren't any witnesses to the accident, Plymouth police have reportedly alleged that the trooper's car crossed into the oncoming lane.

Continue reading "Massachusetts State Trooper Indicted for Vehicular Homicide OUI / DUI" »

March 6, 2014

Massachusetts Woman Arrested for OUI and Child Endangerment


A Milford, Massachusetts woman was arrested for Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges when her minivan crashed into a quarry in Milford with her three children in the vehicle.

All three children were able to escape from the vehicle, which was partially submerged in the quarry. One of the children was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. One of the two other children sustained minor injuries while the third was not hurt.

The woman was charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol; Failure to Stop; and Child Endangerment while OUI / DUI.

The Massachusetts drunk driving crime of Child Endangerment While Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs makes it unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child who is 14 years of age or younger the car.

A conviction for a first offense of Child Endangerment While OUI / DUI is punishable with 90 days to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections; fines of up to $5,000; and a suspension of the person's driver's license for 1 year. A subsequent conviction for this offense could result in a jail sentence of 6 months to 2.5 years in the house of corrections or a state prison sentence of 3-5 years; along with a license suspension of 3 years.

Because the 'elements', i.e., what the government would have to prove, for this crime includes the added factor of having a passenger in the vehicle who is 14 years of age or younger, a person may be prosecuted for both child endangerment while operating under the influence as well as OUI / DUI.

Continue reading "Massachusetts Woman Arrested for OUI and Child Endangerment" »

December 26, 2013

SJC Says Police May Not Offer Opinion of Impairment in OUI / DUI Cases


In the recent decision of Commonwealth v. Joseph J. Canty, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that in cases where a defendant is charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, a police officer may not offer an opinion at trial as to whether the driver's ability was diminished by the consumption of alcohol or that he was probably impaired by the consumption of alcohol.

In this case, the defendant was pulled over for erratic driving. The police officer testified at trial that the defendant breath smelled of alcohol and that he noticed his eyes were bloodshot. The officer also testified that the defendant admitted to having consumed four beer a few hours earlier. After failing several field sobriety tests, the defendant was arrested.

With this background, the police officer offered the opinion at trial that the defendant's ability to safely operate the vehicle was diminished and that he was probably impaired.

In evaluating the officer's testimony at trial, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that although a police officer may properly testify that the driver "appeared intoxicated", it was NOT permissible for the officer to offer an opinion as to the effect of any intoxication on the defendant's ability to operate the vehicle. The court explained that the officer's testimony in this regard touched upon the rule that no lay witness may offer an opinion as to a defendant's guilt or innocence.

The court further explained that testimony as to whether the defendant was probably under the influence is perilously close to an opinion as to whether the defendant is guilty, an issue for the jury to decide. The court held that there must be a balance in a witnesses testimony. Specifically, a police witness would be permitted to offer an opinion concerning the driver's level of intoxication but may not offer an opinion whether the driver's consumption of alcohol had diminished his ability to operating the vehicle safely.

Boston OUI / DUI Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7 for free consultation on all Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges.

Click here to schedule a free consultation or call 617-325-9500.

September 8, 2013

Boston Woman Charged with Vehicular Homicide in Fatal Hit and Run


A 21 year old Boston woman was charged with several Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges, including Vehicular Homicide by Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, in connection with a fatal hit and run that took the life of a 63 year old woman.

According to the Boston Police Department, the defendant, who is from Dorchester, allegedly hit the woman near the intersection of Washington and Northampton Streets. The defendant is alleged to have then fled the scene. The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office further alleges that the defendant was not wearing glasses at the time of the accident, which is apparently a condition of her driver's license restriction.

The defendant was further charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident.

Vehicular Homicide by OUI / DUI in Massachusetts is the negligent and reckless operation of a motor vehicle while under the of alcohol or drugs and which results in the death of another. The punishment upon conviction for vehicular homicide by operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a minimum sentence of 2.5 years and up to 15 years in state prison; and a minimum of 1 year and up to 2.5 years in the house of corrections.

Meanwhile, the motor vehicle crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident After Causing Death punishes those who leave the scene of an accident where death resulted and without leaving their identity, address and registration information.

Leaving the scene of an accident after causing death is punishable by not less than 1 year and up to 2.5 years in the house of corrections; or not less than 2.5 years and up to 10 years in state prison.

Obviously, the purpose of this statute is to identify those operators who were involved in an accident, particularly those resulting in the death of another person. Massachusetts law imposes an active duty on every driver to stop at the scene of an accident and offer their identifying and vehicle information.

Continue reading "Boston Woman Charged with Vehicular Homicide in Fatal Hit and Run" »

September 5, 2013

Father Charged with Child Endangerment in Hingham OUI


A man from South Yarmouth was charged with Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges following a crash in Hingham, including Operating Under the Influence of Drug and Child Endangerment by OUI, Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Possession of a Class B Substance.

According to the Hingham Police Department, the driver crashed his car at a Hingham intersection, striking the electrical box at the intersection on Route 53. Along with a front seat passenger in the car, the driver had his 2 month old infant in the back with the car seat unsecured.

Hingham Police allege that the driver was suspected to have been under the influence of drugs and noticed injection marks on his arms. The driver alleged admitted that he had injected suboxone earlier that day. Officers also allegedly found prescription medication and a used hypodermic needle under the driver's seat and in the man's pockets.

The Massachusetts OUI / DUI Crime of Child Endangerment While Operating Under the Influence of Drugs was enacted several years ago with the passing of "Melanie's Law", which essentially criminalized the operation of a vehicle with a child passenger while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

A person convicted of Child Endangerment While DUI / OUI as a first offender may be committed to the house of corrections for a minimum of 90 days and up to 2.5 years; as well as face a mandatory license suspension for 1 year.

A second offender will face 3-5 years in state prison; or 6 months to 2.5 years in the house of corrections; along with a mandatory driver's license suspension of 3 years.

Continue reading "Father Charged with Child Endangerment in Hingham OUI" »

July 3, 2013

Refusal to Perform Field Sobriety Tests Can't be Used At Trial...Well, It Depends...


As far as Massachusetts Drunk Driving trials go, prosecutors are not able to introduce to a jury evidence that the driver refused to perform any field sobriety tests. But what about the scenario where the driver initially agreed to perform field sobriety tests and then decided to stop?

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently addressed these circumstances in the case of Commonwealth v. Brown.

In that case, the defendant went to trial on the charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, second offense. At trial, the prosecutor was permitted to introduce evidence that, although the driver initially agreed to perform field sobriety tests, during one of the tests he stated "I can't do this" and refused to perform any additional tests.

These circumstances are a classic illustration of 'governmental compulsion' and the reasons why, in most cases, evidence of a refusal may not be introduced as evidence against the defendant. In other words, there is compulsion when the defendant is forced to choose between two alternatives, both of which are capable of producing evidence against him and therefore putting him in a 'catch-22' situation: either take the test and potentially produce incriminating evidence against yourself; or refuse the test and have adverse testimonial evidence used against you at trial.

On this appeal, the defendant argued that because he expressly stated "I can't do this", he affirmatively exercised his right to refuse any further tests and that it was error for the trial judge to permit the prosecution to introduce this refusal against him at trial.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected this defendant's appeal because the question in this case turned on the issue of whether there was government compulsion in the first place. Once the defendant agreed to take the field sobriety tests, any expressions of difficulty or inability to perform are expressions not the products of 'compulsion' and are therefore admissible against him.

Continue reading "Refusal to Perform Field Sobriety Tests Can't be Used At Trial...Well, It Depends..." »

June 7, 2013

Stoneham Man Arrested for DUI and Child Endangerment on Mass Pike


A Stoneham was arrested for Massachusetts Drunk Driving Violations on the Massachusetts Turnpike with his two children in the vehicle.

The defendant was arraigned in Dudley District Court on Monday and charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Child Endangerment While OUI / DUI.

According to the Massachusetts State Police, troopers received a call to be on the lookout for an alleged drunk driver who had two children in the car with him. Contemporaneous with the call, the Sturbridge Police Department had also reportedly called the Massachusetts State Police to inform them that the defendant was suspected of being involved in a "domestic dispute".

When state troopers approached the vehicle, which had pulled over into a rest area, the driver was allegedly unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech and smelled of alcohol.

At his arraignment, it was disclosed that the driver also had a previous conviction for vehicular homicide.

The Massachusetts drunk driving crime of Child Endangerment While Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs was passed in 2005 under "Melanie's Law", and punishes those who operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child 14 years of age or younger in the vehicle.

A conviction for a first offense of Child Endangerment While OUI / DUI punishes those with not less than 90 days and up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections; while a subsequent offender may be punished by not less than 6 months and up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections.

Because they are technically "separate" crimes and require different 'elements' to sustain a conviction, under the law, a person may be charged with OUI / DUI and Child Endangerment While OUI / DUI.

Continue reading "Stoneham Man Arrested for DUI and Child Endangerment on Mass Pike" »

April 30, 2013

Hingham Man Charged with 6th OUI Offense


A Hingham man has been charged with Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges for the sixth time following his arrest on Tuesday. He was charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, 5th or Subsequent Offense.

The defendant was arrested at his Hingham home after another motorist allegedly observed a car to be operating erratically and then following that man home. The other motorist told police that the man pulled up to his house and yelled at his 3 year old son who was in the front yard. The father of the boy reportedly approached the motorist, who he claimed smelled of alcohol and appeared confused.

When the defendant left the area, a neighbor got into his car and followed the defendant to his home. Police responded to the home and allegedly found a half-empty bottle of alcohol in the car.

Massachusetts district attorneys prosecute drunk driving cases very aggressively, particularly those involving subsequent OUI / DUI offenders and the penalties involved upon conviction are very stiff.

A defendant convicted of OUI / DUI 5th or Subsequent Offense faces up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections or up to 5 years in state prison; a lifetime revocation of his driver's license without the possibility of a hardship license; and the district attorney may also seek forfeiture of the vehicle.

Continue reading "Hingham Man Charged with 6th OUI Offense" »

April 17, 2013

Stoughton Woman Arrested at Canton OUI / DUI Sobriety Checkpoint


A Stoughton woman was arrested on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges earlier this month in at a drunk driving checkpoint in Canton.

The OUI / DUI roadblock, which was conducted by the Massachusetts State Police, resulted in the arrest of 6 people and approximately 88 civil motor vehicle citations.

It is well known that the Massachusetts State Police and local police departments sometimes use drunk driving roadblocks to investigate the OUI / DUI laws. Massachusetts law permits police to stop vehicles randomly, but the selection process must not be arbitrary and the method of stopping the vehicles must be according to a devised plan.

If the police stop vehicles at a drunk driving roadblock that is not according to a previously-devised plan, the stop would be considered illegal. Even fixed checkpoints where police stop cars without a pre-devised plan or patters are not constitutional and illegal. Simply put, the police cannot use any arbitrary discretion in selecting which vehicles are stopped.

Once a car has been selected and is pulled over and only if the police officer has reasonable suspicion "based on articulable facts" that the driver may be operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, only then may he direct that driver to a secondary screening area. Massachusetts courts have generally upheld this further screening if the police officer has observed some articulable signs of possible intoxication.

Persons that have been stopped at a drunk driving sobriety checkpoint and ultimately arrested should always challenge the constitutionality of the roadblock because Massachusetts criminal law places the burden on the prosecutor to prove that the procedure was constitutional and conducted in accordance with the law. If the prosecutor is unable to establish his burden and demonstrate that the checkpoint was reasonable and constitutionally conducted, then your case may ultimately be dismissed.

Continue reading "Stoughton Woman Arrested at Canton OUI / DUI Sobriety Checkpoint" »

March 26, 2013

Lowell Man Charged with DUI / OUI After Hitting State Police Cruiser


A Lowell man was arrested this past weekend for Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges after he allegedly drove his car into a Massachusetts State Police vehicle.

The defendant, Justin Castanza, is alleged to have collided with the state police cruiser while the trooper passed through intersection on his way to respond to another incident. The vehicle drive by the defendant allegedly passed through a red light.

The defendant was ultimately arrested for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol.

OUI / DUI cases involving allegations that the motorist passed through a red light or even got into an accident are not necessarily fatal or defenseless. In the large majority of drunk driving cases, the question of whether the operating was impaired due to alcohol consumption will turn to the question of other indicia of impairment, such as field sobriety tests, breathalyzers, open containers, and other evidence of alcohol impairment (unsteady on his feet; odor of alcohol; failure to maintain proper balance, etc).

Though prosecutors will focus their case on traffic infractions and whether there was an accident to establish a causal connection with impairment, there could be very well be other defenses. For instance, a driver who runs a red light and/or is involved in an accident could have been distracted by a number of things: the cell phone or texting; fatigue; or perhaps a medical condition.

Not every single DUI / OUI case is worthy of trial, but the vast majority of them arguably are. Particularly given the extreme and collateral consequences one may face with a drunk driving conviction, it is important that a person charged with a Massachusetts OUI / DUI consults with an experienced attorney who is able to evaluate the totality of circumstances in an effort to undermine the strength of the prosecutions case and establish any viable defenses you may have.

Continue reading "Lowell Man Charged with DUI / OUI After Hitting State Police Cruiser" »

March 16, 2013

Middleboro Man Charged with Vehicular Homicide


A Middleboro man was arrested and charged with Motor Vehicle Homicide While Operating Under the Influence for allegedly operating under the influence of alcohol and causing the death of another motorist.

According to police, the defendant, Zachery Lemmo, 20, was traveling on Route 44 and was involved in a car accident with another driver, James Braga, 61. Prosecutors allege that Lemmo's car struck the other vehicle after running a red light at 70 mph and struck the other driver, resulting in his death.

Police allege that the defendant's blood alcohol level was 0.111% and that he was also allegedly under the influence of marijuana at the time.

Motor Vehicle Homicide in Massachusetts involves the negligent or negligent operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol that results in the death of another.

Vehicular homicide is punishable by either imprisonment to the House of Corrections for 1 to 2.5 years; or to state prison for 2.5 to 15 years. Additionally, a person convicted of this offense may also face revocation of his driver's license for 15 years (or for life for a subsequent offense).

Although cases such as these may appear difficult to defend, particularly where the loss of life resulted, the prosecution must still establish not only that the defendant operated while under the influence of alcohol; but that he also operated in a reckless or negligent manner so that the lives or safety of the public might have been endangered, and that this operation caused the death of another person.

Due to the seriousness of these charges and the grave consequences that could follow, any person charged with OUI / DUI or vehicular homicide should immediately consult with a criminal defense attorney.

Continue reading "Middleboro Man Charged with Vehicular Homicide" »

March 11, 2013

Massachusetts DUI Stop Leads to Drug Charges


A Massachusetts man pulled over in Hingham for suspected OUI / DUI Charges is arrested and additionally charged with Drug Crimes.

The defendant, Stephen Conte, was pulled over by Hingham Police for allegedly operating under the influence of alcohol this past weekend when police saw his car swerve and hit a snow bank. After the vehicle backed up and continued driving, the officer turned his cruiser around but reportedly lost sight of the car.

According to Hingham police, the defendant's car was located and speeding, and was eventually pulled over.

Police allege that the operator appeared confused and ignored officers' questions as to whether he had been drinking. He was subsequently arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol.

Prosecutors further alleged that located within the vehicle were an open container of alcohol as well as marijuana on the floor of the car. Police reportedly also seized a backpack with containing marijuana, oxycodone pills, digital scales and other drug paraphernalia, as well as $3,500 cash.

The defendant was ultimately charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol; Failure to Stop for Police; and Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs.

Although cases such as these may appear to be 'lost causes', the specific details of what the officers did or did not see and their actions in pulling over and searching the defendant may lead to circumstances warranting some defensible issues.

For instance, the circumstances giving rise to the allegations of OUI / DUI may be weak the defendant may have a very defensible case against this charge. Well what about the drugs in the car?

Following an arrest, police must follow certain procedures and the defendant is still entitled to certain constitutional protections concerning his property, in this case, the vehicle. If the circumstances involving the officers' search and seizure of the evidence violated any constitutional rights, the defendant may challenge their seizure. If successful, the evidence would be excluded or 'suppressed' from being introduced at trial against him.

Continue reading "Massachusetts DUI Stop Leads to Drug Charges" »

March 7, 2013

Massachusetts State Police Trooper Charged with Drunk Driving


A Massachusetts State Police Trooper was charged this past week with Drunk Driving Charges.

The defendant state police trooper was arraigned in Falmouth District Court on charges of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol.

According to prosecutors, the Bourne Police Department received two 911 calls concerning an erratic driver and for an intoxicated man who was allegedly trying to run a female off the road. The state police trooper, allegedly traveling at 80 miles per hour, almost struck two cars.

Ultimately, the defendant state trooper was pulled over at a car dealership on Route 28 and then taken to the Massachusetts State Police barracks in Bourne. Taking over this investigation from the Bourne Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police trooper asked him to submit to field sobriety tests and take a breathalyzer test. The defendant state trooper refused the chemical breath test.

According to state police spokesman, the defendant trooper was also currently on 'restricted duty' following a previous allegation of violation of police department regulations.

Continue reading "Massachusetts State Police Trooper Charged with Drunk Driving" »

March 2, 2013

Weymouth Plow Driver Charged with Drunk Driving


A Weymouth plow driver was charged with Massachusetts Drunk Driving for alleged driving his pickup truck into cars during the last snow storm.

According to another driver, the plow driver was allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road when he struck his car and then kept on going. According to the Weymouth police department, the plow driver hit a total of 7 cars that night.

Police allege that the plow driver didn't realize that he had struck the vehicles when he was located at South Shore Hospital where he went to visit a patient there.

The plow driver is charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Leaving the Scene of an Accident.

In defending OUI / DUI crimes, it is necessary for the police to establish that the operator's ability to operate the vehicle safely was impaired due to his intoxication to alcohol. Where the person allegedly fled the scene and where there is no evidence of a breathalyzer test or field sobriety tests, the prosecution' burden becomes that much more difficult.

Most drivers are not even aware that if they are ever pulled over for suspected drunk driving and are asked to perform field sobriety tests that they have an absolute right to refuse. Despite the fact that field sobriety tests, in and of themselves, are not all that reliable anyways, prosecutors place great emphasis when the police allege that the person failed the tests. Additionally, an operator's refusal to submit to field sobriety tests is not admissible against him if he ultimately decides to proceed to trial.

The same holds true for Massachusetts Breathalyzer Test Refusals. Although a driver will face a lengthier suspension of his license for refusing to submit to a chemical breath tests, the operator's refusal cannot be held against him and cannot be introduced as evidence of consciousness of guilty against him at trial.

Whether a driver was 'somewhat impaired' or 'totally wasted' when charged with DUI / OUI, there is almost always some defensible issues that can be explored in his defense.

Continue reading "Weymouth Plow Driver Charged with Drunk Driving" »

January 29, 2013

Boston Man Nets 9th Massachusetts Drunk Driving Arrest


A man from South Boston was arrested earlier this month for the 9th time in connection with a Massachusetts Drunk Driving charge.

The defendant, 51, was arraigned in the Boston Municipal Court and charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, 5th or Subsequent Offense and Leaving the Scene of an Accident After Causing Property Damage. Following his arraignment, the defendant was held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the defendant was driving a rented truck when he got into an accident with another car in the Boston's South End. Prosecutors allege that the defendant fled the scene but the other vehicle followed him to a gas station.

Boston Police Officers responded and when the defendant exited his car, police observed the man had an orthopedic walking boot on the passenger's seat. Inside the boot, Boston police allegedly seized a a bottle of chocolate whipped creme flavored vodka.

The defendant was arrested following his refusal to submit to field sobriety tests and a chemical breath test.

At his arraignment, prosecutors represented that the defendant had been previously convicted eight other times. Following his last conviction in 2007, the defendant was sentenced to a sentence of 2.5 years in the House of Corrections.

An OUI / DUI 5th or Subsequent Offense carries the potential for imprisonment of not less than 2.5 years and up to 5 years in state prison. In addition to a prison sentence, a person convicted of drunk driving five or more times also faces a lifetime revocation of his driver's license.

Additionally, as in this case, when a person is charged with drunk driving with so many prior DUI / OUI conviction, it is common that prosecutors will seek to have him/her held without bail pursuant the 'dangerousness' statute. If the government moves for a dangerousness hearing, it is the government's burden to prove that there are no reasonable conditions of release that would ensure the safety of the defendant and/or the public.

Also, when it comes to a prosecution involving multiple prior offenses, the prosecutor also has to prove that the the person on trial is the same person that was previously convicted of those prior OUI / DUI charges. This might sound simple, but it becomes exponentially complicated and sometimes difficult to prove. Common issues in challenging prior convictions could be circumstances involving where the prior convictions are several years or decades old; where the person has a common name; or the prior files do not contain any booking photos of the person.

As such, it is not that uncommon for a person to have been tried for OUI / DUI, convicted, but the government was unable to prove the prior convictions. A defendant in this scenario would only have been convicted of and subject to the penalties of a first-offender DUI / OUI.


Continue reading "Boston Man Nets 9th Massachusetts Drunk Driving Arrest " »