Recently in DUI / OUI / Drunk Driving Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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December 23, 2012

Needham Woman Strikes Massachusetts Trooper, Charged with Drunk Driving


A Needham woman was arrested for Massachusetts Drunk Driving Crimes last Thursday night after she struck a Massachusetts State Trooper vehicle.

The Needham woman was arraigned in Dedham District Court and charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle.

According to police, the woman was traveling in the northbound lane on Route 109 in a construction zone when she struck the trooper's vehicle. The Massachusetts State Police trooper was transported to the hospital with neck and back injuries.

The woman reportedly also refused to submit to a Breathalyzer Test, which triggered an automatic suspension of her driver's license for 180 days.

The Massachusetts OUI / DUI Crime of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol is a misdemeanor though prosecuted very aggressively in all counties. Although a first-offense OUI / DUI carries the potential for imprisonment for up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections, Massachusetts law offers an 'Alternative Disposition' for first time drunk driving offenders.

For persons who take advantage of the alternative disposition, persons who admit "sufficient facts for a finding of guilty" are placed on probation for a period of time, typically one year; are ordered to enter a Drug-Alcohol Education Program; will be subjected to a loss of their driver's license for a period of 45-90 days; and will be ordered to pay upwards of $1,000 or more of fines/fees.

In circumstances such as these where the person refused to submit to a Breathalyzer Test, any other license suspension will be incurred following the 180 day license suspension for refusing the breathalyzer test.

Although Massachusetts OUI / DUI laws makes it very attractive for first time offenders to take advantage of this Alternative Disposition, any person charged with OUI / DUI should first thoroughly evaluate the strengths/weaknesses of taking their case to trial.

The reality is that a very large percentage of drunk driving cases are very beatable. For that reason, anyone charged with a drunk driving offense should consult with an experienced OUI / DUI Lawyer.

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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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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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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 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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April 3, 2012

Massachusetts Man Crashes Into Cruiser Following Fatal Accident


As Massachusetts State Police were finishing up with a fatal accident scene on I-93 that claimed the life a young woman, another car crashed into a scene and struck a state police cruiser and a tow truck. The driver, Albert Vasquez, has been charged with Massachusetts Drunk Driving Crimes.

Vasquez was arraigned in Woburn District Court earlier this week and charged with OUI / DUI and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle. Following his arraignment, he was held on $10,000 bail.

According to Massachusetts State Police, after two lanes of I-93 were shut down, Vasquez' vehicle allegedly veered into the cordoned off area where emergency crews were and struck a two truck and then a state police car. He was arrested at the scene for suspicion of operating under the influence of alcohol.

OUI / DUI is punishable in Massachusetts with imprisonment for up to 2.5 years, fines of up to $5,000 and a suspension of the person's driver's license for 1 year. Massachusetts DUI laws do offer an 'alternative disposition' however, which the defendant could have his case Continued Without a Finding and be placed on probation. With this alternative, the defendant would also be ordered to enter and complete a Drug-Alcohol Education Program and lose his/her license for a period of 45-90 days.

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March 13, 2012

Bedford Man Arrested for Drunk Driving After I-93 Crash


Massachusetts State Police arrested a Bedford man this past weekend on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges following a crash on I-93 north that injure four.

According to state police, James Milligan was allegedly driving the wrong way on I-93 north when he allegedly caused a four car crash. He will be summonsed for arraignment to Woburn District Court on charges of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, Leaving the Scene of Property Damage, and Leaving the Scene of an Accident after Causing Serious Bodily Injury.

The crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident After Causing Serious Bodily Injury is a felony that is punishable with imprisonment for not less than 6 months and up to 2 years in the House of Corrections. It punishes those persons who were involved in an accident where personal injury resulted and then left the scene without leaving making their identity, address and registration information known.

OUI / DUI in Massachusetts is punishable by imprisonment for up to 2.5 years in the House of Corrections, but Massachusetts offers an 'alternative disposition' for first-time OUI /DUI offenders if the person 'admits to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty'.

With this disposition, the defendant is typically placed on probation; ordered to enter and complete a Drug-Alcohol Education Program; and will lose his/her driver's license for a period between 45 and 90 days. In additional, a defendant will also face hefty fines and fees with any disposition that is not entirely resolved in his/her favor.

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March 6, 2012

Taunton Truck Driver Facing DUI / OUI Charges After Allegedly Lying About Fall River Crash


The Taunton truck driver who allegedly crashed his truck under a bridge in Fall River last month in an apparent road rage incident is now being charged with Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges after investigators believe he lied.

The truck driver, who is 42, is facing criminal OUI / DUI charges including Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle.

Following the crash on Route 79 under the bridge in Fall River, Massachusetts State Police responded and found the man apparently unconscious and hanging over a jersey barrier. His truck was nearby and engulfed in flames.

After being taken to the hospital, the man allegedly gave several interviews to reporters and claimed that he had been a victim of road rage, alleging that people in a black car had fired a gun at him.

The Massachusetts State Police, however, have since released a statement that there is no evidence to support the man's road rage claim. In a follow-up interview, the man allegedly recanted his road-rage story and admitted he had made it up. State Police have now filed OUI / DUI Charges against him.

Unfortunately, circumstances such as these present themselves all too often. Many people are under the mistaken belief that they can talk their way out of criminal charges, whether from lying to the police and trying to be 'honest' and upfront with them. At the end of the day, if there are criminal charges to be filed, the police will file them.

The best advice any lawyer can give to anyone in these or similar circumstances is to exercise your 5th amendment right to remain silent. There is a reason why this is a constitutional right, because in fact, "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."

Accordingly, the better practice is always to first consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Even in circumstances where there might still be a chance to talk your way of being charged with a crime, it would be best to try to accomplish this with the guidance and assistance of an attorney.

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