Articles Posted in OUI Offenses

My post today requires an important caveat at the start. It concerns Massachusetts drunk driving charges – and I want to be very judicious and careful in writing this material. I don’t want my readers to take away the wrong message from it. So I will reiterate what I have said many times before, in writing and in comments to the media: Drunk driving, driving while intoxicated, driving while impaired, or any of several other terms of art commonly utilized to describe driving drunk or drugged, is NOT “okay.” It is NOT acceptable. And in my view as a Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer,aside from important legal issues, it is not morally acceptable to knowingly drive while drunk or chemically impaired. To do so while knowingly impaired, can be the moral equivalent of saying, “Yes, I could kill someone with this one-ton construction of steel and glass, but I don’t care – I’ve got someplace to go.”

Thus, I want to be very judicious here, and not send the wrong message about drinking and driving being in any way “okay.”  However, it is also a very important fact that many, many people are stopped and arrested by Massachusetts police departments every month and year, and charged with drunk driving when they were not legally drunk at the time they were arrested.  Every defendant accused of a crime deserves a vigorous and zealous defense, and that includes such drunk defendants, as well.

At this time last year, I wrote of how a dedicated group of Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys had exposed a cover-up involving defects surrounding the most common breathalyzer machine used by the majority of Massachusetts Police Departments. The cover-up wasn’t initiated or participated in by any of the state’s 11 District Attorneys’ offices across Massachusetts. Ultimately, it turned out that the Massachusetts Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) was responsible for attempting to cover-up widespread failures of the Drager 9510 Breathalyzer, which has been the most commonly used breathalyzer in Massachusetts for several years. The story broke in 2015, when the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety office first acknowledged that “some” breathalyzers were flawed.

As I’ve said many times, people often ask me how I can defend certain types of clients accused of crimes such as, for example, drunk driving or sex offenses.  And I give them the same answer, every time:  “Because my client might be innocent.”

Just yesterday, (August 23 2017,) the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, the statewide association representing the 14 county-based District Attorneys Offices across Massachusetts, announced that until further notice, their prosecutors would no longer use alcohol breathalyzer tests (“breath tests”) in current or future Massachusetts OUI/DUI cases.  Why?  That’s where, as a Boston and Wrentham Massachusetts OUI defense attorney, my constant answer above, becomes “Exhibit ‘A’”. Continue reading

Amid all the Super Bowl hype, try to remember something:  Aside from New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, Super Bowl Sunday is one the drunkest days of the year.  Worse still, the number of inebriated people who get behind the wheel after drinking at a Super Bowl party or similar event, is extremely high.  Doing so is just plain foolish, but a lot of people do it , thinking that they’re not “really drunk”, or that the odds of them being stopped by police is low.

As a Wrentham Massachusetts OUI attorney I can assure you, that is not so:  The number of police patrols on the road this day have been increased dramatically – both in Massachusetts and across the country.  There are DUI checkpoints set up at strategic locations, and police will be watching.

Here are a few interesting facts about DUI and Super Bowl Sunday: Continue reading

The Boston Globe recently asked itself an interesting question:  Is there an identifiable collection, or concentration, of bars or restaurants in Massachusetts that have a statistically verifiable reputation of being the last place that convicted drunk drivers were served alcohol prior to being arrested for drunk driving  Or, rephrased, “Can we assemble a list of bars that are more likely to “last serve” a person who is soon thereafter arrested for drunk driving? ” 

As I said, this is, both in terms of statistics and public safety, an interesting question.  The Globe published the results of their investigation earlier today, which lists 50 such bars, restaurants, or any business licensed to serve alcohol in Massachusetts, and the story can be found here.  The story creates the new acronym of “PLD,” for “place of last drink”, which the Globe claims represents an instance where the listed establishment allegedly served the last drink to a patron who was intoxicated,  arrested on Massachusetts OUI/DUI charges soon after leaving he bar, and afterward convicted of DUI or operating under the influence. The Globe claims the ratings are based on data it collected and studied from the period of Jan. 2012 through Sept. 2016. Continue reading

In my previous post on this subject, I discussed how the Massachusetts Legislature is debating on whether to change the current OUI/DUI law in Massachusetts – known As “Melanie’s Law” for the young girl who was killed by a repeat drunk driver.  The change now being vigorously argued over would require Ignition Interlock Devices (IID’s) to be mandatory for anyone convicted or pleading guilty to a first offense OUI. Currently, Massachusetts law requires IID’s to be installed for persons convicted of Operating Under the Influence for a second offense and higher.

As a Massachusetts DUI attorney, even though on a professional level I fight zealously in representing my clients as their legal counsel, on personal level I abhor the idea of driving while intoxicated.  Who doesn’t?  I don’t want myself or the people I love injured or killed by a drunk driver.  But I’m a criminal defense attorney, and I know the dangers of trying to solve a public policy problem by wiping out important legal rights that our Constitution guarantees us all. Continue reading

A battle over how to reduce drunk driving even further has been brewing for some time now at the Massachusetts State House.  Leading this effort is the Massachusetts chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD.)  MADD is a laudable organization, with an admirable goal:  The elimination of drunk and drugged driving.  I say this even though I am a Wrentham Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer, and even though I think drunk and drugged driving will never, unfortunately, be completely “eliminated.” Continue reading

The recent revelation that many of the breathalyzer machines used by many Massachusetts police departments, has resurrected a debate between law enforcement and prosecutors on the one side, and criminal defense attorneys on the other, over whether and how accurate these machines really are.

The controversy began in mid-March, when a fairly high number of breathalyzer results were found to be unreliable due to failures that were not fully explained at that time. The issue reached a fever pitch last week, when District Attorneys in eight Massachusetts counties – Suffolk, Middlesex, Essex, Cape & Islands, Worcester, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Northwestern counties – disclosed that their prosecutors were temporarily suspending the introduction of breathalyzer results into evidence in drunken-driving cases that were pending in their offices. Last week, The Boston Globe ran a lead editorial, calling for the temporary ban to be adopted statewide by all Massachusetts District Attorney’s Offices.

The Globe is wise to make such a call. The premise that breathalyzer machines can detect alcohol in a person’s breath, has never really been disputed. The problem has always been with the accuracy of the machines: If the machines are not regularly serviced, maintained, and calibrated accurately by specially trained police department users, the blood alcohol readings these machines produce can be highly doubtful. As a Dedham, Massachusetts OUI lawyer, I can’t tell you how many Massachusetts OUI charges I’ve had dismissed due to faulty breathalyzer readings. An example? I ‘ve had more than one OUI client, who was arrested on Massachusetts drunk driving charges, who had ingested nothing more than breath mints or mouthwash – which breathalyzer machines can mistakenly detect as alcohol. More commonly, the machines are not calibrated accurately, and thus the results they produce are flawed.

OK, now that St. Patrick’s Day is over, I’m sure we all know a few people who had a “few too many” celebrating the Irish holiday. As long as those people weren’t operating a motor vehicle and could only hurt themselves with a bad hangover, that’s one thing. But to those who imbibed too much and then got behind the wheel, they need to get their sanity back on.

If you took a poll and asked people what day of the year involved the highest number of drunken driving accidents, I’ll bet most people would say New Year’s Eve. Close, but not exactly. It seems that distinction goes to the venerable St. Patrick’s Day, at least according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.) According their statistics, St. Paddy’s Day is one of the deadliest highway deaths days of the year, with a reported 276 drunk-driving fatalities occurring March 17 between 2009-2013. NHTSA claims that three-quarters of those deaths involved operators who were driving at or over twice the legal limit (.08, in Massachusetts.) Remember: That fatality figure of 276 represents deaths only, not major injuries such as brain injuries, burn injuries, paralysis and amputations. Ad those facts in, and the picture is pretty gruesome.

St. Patrick’s Day has become so known for drunk driving accidents that car-ride services have stepped in to address the problem: Uber offered $5 for every ride taken between March 17 and March 22 to some chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD,) and the rise service Lyft offered free ride credits to any customer who was riding with a driver named Patrick, Pat, Patty or Patricia on St. Patrick’s Day. A great combination of civic responsibility and smart marketing.

In case you haven’t heard, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB,) recently issued a recommendation that all 50 states, including Massachusetts, adopt a uniform, lowered blood alcohol content (BAC) standard to determine when someone is legally impaired (drunk/intoxicated) while driving.

Currently, the Massachusetts BAC standard that is used to determine whether or not a driver is legally drunk, is .08. This is also the standard used in most other states. This is called a “per se” standard, or per se law, because it means that anyone registering this amount of alcohol in their blood is legally presumed to be intoxicated. In other words, police and District Attorneys’ offices don’t have to legally argue, or prove, that key issue. If you take either a breathalyzer test or blood test and register a BAC of .08 or higher, Massachusetts law considers you drunk. Period.

The NTSB wants states to lower the legal intoxication limit from .08 to .05. Drunk driving laws in the U.S. are a matter of state law, not federal, so the NTSB has no power to force any state to enact its recommendations. Reducing the current.08 standard to .05 is almost cutting the current standard in half, so it’s aggressive, but its advocates say it is needed.

This post is written to remind everyone that we are all vulnerable to someday getting into trouble with the law – even some of us that you would be least likely to suspect.

As a Dedham, Mass., DUI lawyer, let me share with you an interesting development. Right now there is a story making headlines in the Boston newspapers about the Commissioner of the Boston Police Department, Ed Davis, which illustrates my point in the above paragraph. Last week, Commissioner Davis’ 22-year-old son Phillip was arrested in Plymouth, New Hampshire, on charges of drunk driving.

At a recent event at Emmanuel College, Davis made a statement, in which he said that his son is doing well, and he thanked everyone for their concern. Among other things, he said the following: “Like many families that struggle with substance abuse, we are reaching out to experts to get Phillip the help he needs. Jane and I love our son very much and are relieved that he has decided to seek treatment.”