Massachusetts DUI Charge Against Obama’s Uncle Moves Forward

Having connections into the White House won’t necessarily spare someone from spending time in the Big House.

President Barack Obama’s uncle was brought before Framingham District Court earlier this week, where he appeared for a pre-trial conference hearing, after being arrested on August 24 on a charge of Massachusetts DUI/OUI, as well as other charges. At the time of his arrest, authorities learned that Onyango Obama, 67, who is the half-brother of President Obama’s late father, was also in violation of an almost 20 year-old immigration order to return to his native Kenya (apparently, he has been living in Framingham for quite some time.) As a result of that violation, Obama was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities, but was released on September 9 by ICE officials without public comment. At the time, an ICE spokesman would only say that federal privacy laws prohibit agency officials from commenting on individual cases. True. I’ll leave that alone.

At Obama’s court hearing earlier this week, his lawyer and prosecutors for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office agree to continue the case until November 17 2011. This is not uncommon for many criminal charges, including OUI/DUI. At his earlier arraignment, Obama had pleaded not guilty to the formal Massachusetts charge of operating under the influence of alcohol. At the time of his arrest, it was reported that Obama told police, “I think I will call the White House” in order to arrange bail. Not a bad decision.

The case will now enter what is known as a Discovery phase, where prosecutors will be required to exchange certain information, including any exculpatory evidence (evidence that tends to exonerate the defendant,) with Obama’s defense attorney. As a Dedham, Massachusetts DUI/OUI defense lawyer, I can tell you that certain evidence will be key to determining the legal trajectory of this case. This includes whether or not Obama took a Breathalyzer test, what any blood alcohol content values were, how much time passed between Obama’s arrest and the administering of any Breathalyzer or blood alcohol content test, and whether or not the Breathalyzer machine was accurately maintained or calibrated. A number of pre-trial motions may be in order here, including Motions to Suppress, but as I’m not familiar with the details of the arrest and police report, it’s difficult to say precisely. Regardless, these charges show that knowing someone in high places won’t necessarily save someone from the long arm of the law. Aside from these immediate criminal charges that stem from Obama’s August 24 arrest on OUI charges, it’s clear that he’s going to have a number of immigration problems, and may be required to leave the country. I’ll leave that question to immigration law experts.