November 2012 Archives

November 15, 2012

Wellesley ER Doctor Charged with OUI / DUI Drugs & Alcohol

A Newton-Wellesley Hospital emergency room doctor was arrested earlier this month on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges after she allegedly crash into traffic in State Street in Wellesley.

Dr. Kristin Howard, 56, was charged with Operating Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol, Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, Leaving the Scene of Property Damage and Unlawful Possession of Class C and E Substances.

According to police, the doctor allegedly drove through the Wellesley whole foods parking lot, through grass and bushes, and into the street, striking another car and pushing it into a car on the other side of the street.

OUI / DUI in Massachusetts is punishable by imprisonment for up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections, along with a loss of license for 1 year. Massachusetts drunk driving laws also provide for an 'alternative disposition' for first-time DUI / OUI offenders if the defendant elects to change his/her plea to a Continuance Without a Finding and be subject to probation and regular reporting; ordered to enter and complete a drug alcohol education program; fines/fees in the area of $1,000 or more; and loss of a driver's license for a period between 45 and 90 days.

With most OUI / DUI cases, the immediate charges and allegations may appear very overwhelming and almost insurmountable. In reality, however, a great many drunk driving cases have very legitimate and strong defenses, so even first-time offenders should strongly consider consulting with an attorney who can evaluate each aspect of his/her case and make an informed decision whether to enter into a change of plea or proceed to trial.

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November 9, 2012

Wayland High School Football Coach Charged with Drunk Driving

An assistant football coach at Wayland High School was arrested last weekend on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges following his teams victory that evening.

The Wayland coach was charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol at his arraignment in Framingham District Court earlier this week.

According to police, the defendant almost veered into a police cruiser after he allegedly crossed the double yellow lines. The officer pulled over the vehicle and reportedly smelled an odor of alcohol from the vehicle and the operator slurring his words. In his report, the officer also alleged that the defendant admitted to having a few beers prior to being pulled over.

The defendant also reportedly agreed to perform Field Sobriety Tests. Although he allegedly failed two, but passed the Nine Step Walk and Turn Test, which is arguably the most "difficult" of these ridiculous 'tests'. Nonetheless, the fact that the officer admitted that he 'passed' one out of three field sobriety tests does significant harm to the prosecutions case.

Notably, it is within your legal right to refuse to submit to any field sobriety tests.

The reality is that drinking and driving is not a crime. The consumption of alcohol and driving only becomes a criminal act when the alcohol impairs the driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely. Although evidence of and even an admission of having consumed alcohol is not ideal, that fact is not fatal to a DUI / OUI defense.

In the totality of these circumstances, it appears that the only evidence of erratic operation is the single veering into the opposite lane, for which there could be numerous innocent explanations. For example, the driver could have been distracted with his cell phone; was trying to light a cigarette; was changing the music station; or was simply just tired.

Unfortunately for OUI /DUI defendants, the public immediately convicts anyone and everyone simply arrested for drunk driving, without consideration of all the innocent facts and circumstances and with complete disregard that all criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

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November 6, 2012

Worcester Man Charged with Drunk Driving and Child Endangerment

A Worcester man was recently arrested on several Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges following his involvement in a three-car crash.

The man, who was driving his minivan with his two daughters (6 and 8 years old) on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Sturbridge, allegedly turned onto an exit ramp and was hit but a tractor-trailer. The impact cause the man's car to then crash into another vehicle.

Although there were no injuries, the driver was charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Child Endangerment While OUI / DUI.

According to police, the Worcester man submitted to an alcohol breath test which indicated he was at approximately 0.16%. The legal "limit" in Massachusetts is 0.08%.

The Massachusetts Drunk Driving Crime of Child Endangerment While OUI / DUI criminalizes the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a child 14 years of age or younger in the car. The potential penalty for a first offense violation is 90 days to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections, with a driver's license suspension of 1 year.

In cases such as this, the public perception is that where a drunk driving defendant blew a breath test reading over 0.08% that there is absolutely no defense to his case. This is far from the truth.

In reality, a breath test reading over the legal presumptive limit is not a death sentence, as the prosecutor still has to prove that the operator's ability to operate the vehicle safely was impaired by his consumption of alcohol. Even where an accident occurred, although such could be considered by a jury as to the level of impairment, can also be explained.

Accidents do happen, even when people are not drunk or haven't consumed any alcohol. But people tend to immediately focus on the most egregious facts and sometimes disregard other equally important factors.

For instance, the operator was traveling on the Mass. Pike, and presumably, if going with typical traffic, at speeds of at least 50-60 mph. Assuming evidence would show that he traveled several miles, all the while keeping within his marked lanes, this could demonstrate that he was actually not impaired by the alcohol.

For these and many other reasons, it is extremely critical that those charged with Massachusetts Drunk Driving Law Violations consult with a criminal defense lawyer who has experience in defending OUI / DUI charges.

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