May 2012 Archives

May 22, 2012

Massachusetts Woman Charged With DUI / OUI in Multi-Car Attleboro Crash

A Norfolk woman was arrested over the weekend on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Law Violations following a multi-car crash in Attleboro. The woman was arraigned on charges of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle.

According to the district attorney's office, the Norfolk woman was involved in a 5 car crash that occurred on I-95 in Attleboro. According to police, she submitted to a Breathalyzer Test and reported blew a 0.18%.

The woman reportedly has a history of prior drunk driving charges, including an incident in 2006 when she was charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Personal Injury and Death. In 2009, she was also charged with OUI / DUI and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle after she was allegedly to have hit a snowbank and was found to be passed out in her vehicle.

Massachusetts' strict OUI / DUI Laws are prosecuted very aggressively, particularly where the person has prior alcohol-related charges.

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May 20, 2012

Massachusetts Woman Arrested for OUI / DUI Child Endangerment

Massachusetts has strict Drunk Driving Laws and Penalties, and if you are caught driving while allegedly impaired by drugs or alcohol, the charges and penalties get even stiffer.

This past week, for instance, a Barnstable woman was arrested last week on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges after she allegedly drove while impaired with her 4 year old in the car. She was arraigned in Barnstable District Court on charges of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Child Endangerment while Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol.

Child Endangerment While Operating Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol in Massachusetts was enacted as a result of "Melanie's Law" in 2005. This crime punishes those who operate a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol while a child aged 14 years or younger is in the car.

For first time offender, the law punishes those convicted with a mandatory 90 day sentence to the Massachusetts House of Corrections, up to a maximum of 2.5 years; along with a suspension of the person's driver's license for 1 year. Second time offenders, however, face an even stiffer sentence of at least 6 months to jail, or 3-5 years if sent to state prison; along with a 3 year loss of license.

Notably, a person can be prosecuted of BOTH OUI / DUI and separately, the crime of Child Endangerment While OUI / DUI.

Given the harsh penalties and aggressive prosecutions, persons charged with Massachusetts DUI / OUI & Related Crimes should immediately Consult with a Boston DUI / OUI Lawyer.

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May 18, 2012

Massachusetts Supreme Court Ruling Rejects Registar's Definition of "Conviction"

In the recent case of Paul J. Souza v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected the Registrar of Motor Vehicle's definition of "conviction" and ruled that a conviction means only dispositions of criminal charges where a determination of guilt was made.

The plaintiff in this case was previously arrested in 1997 for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and eventually 'admitted to sufficient facts' for a finding of guilty. His case was "Continued Without a Finding" and later dismissed after a period of probation.

Then, in 2010, the plaintiff was again arrested for OUI / DUI. At the time of his arrest, the plaintiff refused to submit to a Breathalyzer Test. Upon his refusal, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles suspended his driver's license for a period of 3 years by statute. The statute as currently enacted mandates that the arrestee's license is to be suspended for 3 years for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer if he has previously been "convicted" of an OUI / DUI offense (if the person has not been previously convicted, the driver's license suspension of refusal is 180 days).

The plaintiff appealed the 3 year driver's license suspension, arguing that he should only have had his license suspended for 180 days because he had never previously been "convicted" or found guilty. Rather, in his prior case, he only had 'admitted to sufficient facts" for a finding of guilty, which is not the equivalent of a conviction.

In its ruling, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court focused on the language and statutory intent of the legislature, holding that "If the Legislature, in enacting Melanie's Law, had wanted to include an admission to sufficient facts in the definition of 'convicted', it could have done so explicitly." Alternatively, the legislature could have included admissions to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty for the increased penalty in refusal of breathalyzer tests.

So what does this ruling mean for persons who have already had their licenses suspended for increased periods where their prior OUI's were not a result of "guilty" pleas or convictions? Inevitably, as a result of this case, hundreds of other Massachusetts drivers could have their driver's licenses restored whose licenses were suspended under similar circumstances.

For those that do find themselves in similar positions, I would strongly advise them to quickly seek reinstatement of their driver's licenses, as I expect the district attorney's office to consult with the legislature to amend the statute in the next year, if not several months to include a Continuance Without a Finding as a "conviction".

It should also be noted that this plaintiff in this case went to trial and was ACQUITTED.

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May 11, 2012

Boston Man Arrested for DUI / OUI After Crashing into Police Cruiser

A Boston man was arrested and charged with Massachusetts Drunk Driving Crimes after he allegedly rammed his car into a Massachusetts State Trooper's vehicle.

The man, who is reportedly from Dorchester, was arraigned this morning in Boston Municipal Court for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the operator of the vehicle slammed into the state trooper's cruiser, which was stopped at a red light at Tremont and Boylston Streets in downtown Boston. Following the crash, the man allegedly kept driving and didn't stop until his passenger told him to stop.

The Massachusetts State Police alleged that the driver admitted to having had "a few drinks" at a Boston bar and was arrested after allegedly failing Field Sobriety Tests.

DUI / OUI is prosecuted very aggressively in Massachusetts, and a first offense can carry up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections. Despite Massachusetts law providing for an "alternative disposition" for first time offenders, anyone charged with drunk driving should consult with an attorney and strongly weight the pros and cons of contesting the allegations versus making any admissions.

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May 3, 2012

Massachusetts Police Shoot at Driver at OUI / DUI Checkpoint

Massachusetts State Police opened fire at a driver who allegedly struck one officer and then police on a high speed chase after failing to stop at an OUI / DUI roadblock on Sunday in Lawrence and arrested him on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges.

The driver allegedly refused to stop at the checkpoint shortly after 2:00 a.m. on Sunday and drove right through it, allegedly striking a Massachusetts State Trooper, while other officers opened fire at the vehicle. After being apprehended following a chase by other troopers, the man was arrested and charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, and Assault & Battery on a Police Officer.

Following his arraignment in Lawrence District Court earlier this week, the man was held without bail.

In Massachusetts, it is legal for police to conduct OUI / DUI checkpoint or roadblocks as long as the cars they select to stop is not arbitrary and the procedure is conducted according to a plan devised by law enforcement.

A plan by police must be established, otherwise it is illegal for police to target which vehicles to stop. Even 'fixed' checkpoints where police stop cars according to no set plan or pattern is illegal. Simply, if the officers conducting the OUI / DUI checkpoint have any discretion in which cars they stop, the sobriety checkpoint could be declared constitutionally illegal.

For that reason, DUI / OUI sobriety checkpoints must be governed by set of standard and neutral guidelines, which must clearly forbid the arbitrary selection of vehicles to be stopped.

When a car is stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, the officer may lawfully request that driver to submit to a secondary screening only if he has reasonable suspicion, based on articulable facts, that the driver may be operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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