August 2012 Archives

August 29, 2012

East Boston Man Indicted for Drunk Driving and Vehicular Homicide

An East Boston man was indicted by the Essex County District Attorney's Office on several Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges in connection with a crash that occurred on the Lynnway in Lynn that resulted in the other driver succumbing to injuries.

The East Boston man was charged with Motor Vehicle Homicide by OUI / DUI, Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Aggravated Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle.

The defendant in this case is alleged to have been driving while under the influence of alcohol on the Lynnway in Lynn last October when he struck another car that had just pulled out of the parking lot of the Porthole Restaurant (located on the Lynnway). The crash reportedly caused the victim's van to explode and was fully engulfed in fire by the time the fire department arrived. An accident reconstruction team is alleging that the defendant's vehicle was traveling at approximately 80 miles per hour.

According to the Lynn Police, the East Boston had left a party in Everett and was on his way to the beach at the time of the accident. Also in the car were 3 underage passengers, one of whom reportedly told the police that they had all been drinking in the car. An empty bottle of vodka was allegedly seized from within the car.

The East Boston man was taken to Salem Hospital to be treated for injuries. Medical tests and blood work that was performed allegedly revealed his blood alcohol content at 0.14% (the legal limit is 0.08%).

One of the quirks in cases like this involving blood alcohol content is where the person was involved in an accident and taken to the hospital for treatment. Generally, a person has a right to refuse to a Breathalyzer Test that might reveal his blood alcohol content, and the person's refusal of such test is inadmissible against him at trial.

Where the person was taken to the hospital, however, evidence of a blood alcohol test may be admissible so long as the purpose for their being taken was for medical diagnosis and treatment. Conversely, in a situation where the person refused to go to the hospital for treatment but was forced to by the police for apparent 'investigatory' purposes, evidence of his blood alcohol levels might be excluded.

Additionally, Massachusetts court have ruled that admission of such blood test results that were done as a result of routine evaluation and treatment may be admissible at trial without a right to cross-examine the laboratory technician who conducted the test. The reason for this rule is because, in Massachusetts, medical reports created for treatment purposes are not considered 'testimonial'. If the evidence is not 'testimonial', then there is no right of confrontation.

There may, however, be other reasons for challenging the admission of these and other tests, including their authenticity and certification by the hospital record keeper. That is why is it extremely critical, particularly in serious cases such as Massachusetts OUI / DUI Charges where the person may be subject to length sentences, to have an experience attorney capable of providing you with the best defense possible.

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August 19, 2012

Anonymous Tip Lands Wareham Man in Jail for 5th OUI / DUI

A Wareham man was arrested by Wareham Police Officers this past week on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges. He was charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, 5th Subsequent Offense; and OUI / DUI After License Suspended for Previous OUI / DUI.

According to the Wareham Police Department, an anonymous caller reported that the man was driving and that he was under the influence of alcohol. Officers reportedly located the driver and pulled him over. The driver reportedly failed a series of Field Sobriety Tests and was arrested. The driver reportedly had his last drunk driving conviction in 2004, and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles had his license suspended for being a habitual traffic offender.

The Massachusetts Drunk Driving Crime of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol After License Suspended for DUI / OUI is exactly that - where the person is alleged to have committed another OUI / DUI while his license was already suspended for a previous drunk driving offense.

A conviction for the Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs After License Suspended for DUI / OUI is a minimum-mandatory commitment to the House of Corrections for not less than 1 year and up to 2.5 years, as well as a loss of the person's driver's license for 1 year. By statute, however, this sentence must run 'consecutively', or 'from and after' any penalty for the underlying OUI / DUI conviction.

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August 5, 2012

Massachusetts Woman Arrested for Drunk Driving After Hitting Police Cruiser

A Fall River woman was arrested this past weekend on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges after she allegedly struck a state police car. She was charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, and Leaving the Scene of an Accident.

According to the Massachusetts State Police, the Fall River woman struck the Massachusetts State Police cruise on Route 195 West while troopers were doing a detail as highway work was being performed. After the crash, the woman allegedly kept on driving and was stopped down the road by another Massachusetts trooper.

Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle is punishable by imprisonment to the House of Corrections for not less than 2 week and up to 2 years. In order to be convicted of this crime, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) operation, (2) on a public way; and (3) in a negligent manner so that the lives or safety of the public might have been endangered.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident is also punishable with imprisonment for not less than 2 weeks and up to 2 years in the House of Corrections. The purpose of this criminal charge is to enable anyone whose property or person has been injured by another motorist to obtain immediate and accurate information about the other person involved in the accident. The extent of the damage or injury, therefore, is not relevant except only to the extent that it is circumstantial evidence as to whether or not the defendant knew that there had been a collision.

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August 3, 2012

Massachusetts Legislature Closes Melanie's Law "Loophole"

A few months ago I wrote about a decision the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued which rejected the Registry of Motor Vehicle's definition of "conviction" with respect to Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws, as it applied to OUI / DUI convictions and Breathalyzer Test Refusals. Following that decision by the court, the Massachusetts Legislature has now closed that 'loophole'.

By way of background, in May 2012, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that, under the law at the time, a "conviction" meant only dispositions of criminal charged where an actual determination of guilt was imposed.

The issue arose following the suspension of a person's driver's license for 3 years by the Registry of Motor Vehicles because he had previously been convicted of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol. The driver appealed the 3 year suspension, claiming that his license should only have been suspended for 180 days because in his previous case was Continued Without a Finding - he argued that this was not the equivalent of a 'conviction' or guilty finding. He pointed out that, in obtaining a Continuance Without a Finding, he only admitted to 'sufficient facts for a finding of guilty', which is not the same as pleading guilty. The Massachusetts Supreme Court agreed, and stated 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."

Following the court's ruling, the Massachusetts legislature closed this 'loophole' and amended the statute, which now does consider Continuances Without a Finding and Breathalyzer Test refusals as 'convictions' for purposes of the Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws.

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August 2, 2012

Massachusetts State Police Increase Drunk Driving Patrols

sobriety checkpoint.jpgThe Massachusetts State Police have reportedly increased their Massachusetts Drunk Driving patrols this past weekend, specifically in the area of southeastern Massachusetts Route 24 and Interstate 195.

11 additional Massachusetts State Police patrols will reportedly be used on those roads through the end of September, targeting the weekend hours between Friday and Sunday. To date, at least 10 people have been charged with OUI / DUI, with over 200 others being cited for other motor vehicle violations.

Just this past weekend, a Brockton man was arrested on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges when he was allegedly involved in a crash on Route 24 in Freetown. He was charged with DUI / OUI and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle.

District Attorneys' offices across the state aggressively prosecute even first time OUI / DUI offenders, particularly since the implementation of Melanie's Law several years ago. The law currently punishes a first-time drunk driving offender with a maximum penalty of 2.5 years in the House of Corrections, fines totaling up to $5,000, and a loss of the person's driver's license for 1 year.

Massachusetts 1st Offense OUI / DUI Laws also provide for what is called an "Alternative Disposition", meaning the person, before trial, may change his plea and admit to 'sufficient facts' and obtain a Continuance Without a Finding. In this alternative disposition, the person would be placed on probation; ordered to enter and a complete a Drug-Alcohol Education Program; pay fines/fees in the area of $1,000, and lose his/her driver's license for a period of no more than 90 days. Upon successful completion of this probation, the case, which was "Continued Without a Finding", would be dismissed.

Any potential loss of license involved in a DUI / OUI conviction or in an alternative disposition such as a Continuance Without a Finding is above and beyond whatever loss of license the person may face if there is a Breathalyzer Test Failure or Refusal. For instance, a first time breathalyzer refusal would subject the person to a mandatory loss of license for 180 days; and a person who had 3 or more DUI offenses and refused to submit to a breathalyzer could lose his license for life.

The length of time for license suspensions involving breathalyzer refusals could also vary for drivers under 18, as well as for driver's between the ages of 18 and 21.

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August 1, 2012

Boston Police Officer Arraigned on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges

boston police.jpgA Boston Police Officer has been charged with Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges after he allegedly crashed into a young woman's car. The Boston Police Officer was arraigned in late July in the West Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court on charges including Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the Boston Police Officer was allegedly driving in Hyde Park at 68 miles per hour when he went through a stop sign and crashed into another vehicle, occupied by a young woman and her friend. Both were reportedly injured in the crash.

The Boston Police Department received a lot of heat for this case because it was reported that, when other Boston Police Officers responded to the scene of the crash, the matter wasn't investigated as it would have been had the driver not been a policeman. For example, there were allegations against the police department that the officer was not asked to perform any field sobriety tests; nor was he asked to submit to a Breathalyzer Test on scene.

Because the Boston Police Officer suffered some injuries, he was later transported to the hospital, where his blood alcohol content was found to be 0.27%, in excess of three times the legal limit of 0.08%.

Despite this, the media reports in the days following made note of these facts, and many in the community were questioning why the Boston Police were not seeking to charge this officer with any OUI / DUI crimes. Many, including the media, complained that the Boston Police were protecting their own.

Notably, the incident occurred on May 24, and the Boston Police Officer was not brought before the court on these charges until July 20, 2012.

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