Articles Tagged with “Massachusetts OUI”

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The Boston Globe reports that at 12:51 a.m. on Saturday July 21, 2012 an off-duty Massachusetts state trooper was relieved of his active duty after being arrested for operating under the influence (OUI). The trooper, 46-year-old Daniel Sheehan, was arrested in Enfield, Connecticut after a patrolman came upon him sleeping or passed out behind the wheel of a Cadillac Escalade parked alongside the road. The arresting officer said there was no damage to the vehicle, no signs of a crash, and Sheehan was uninjured. However, upon the results of field sobriety tests, the officers determined Sheehan was definitely impaired and arrested him. Daniel Sheehan is a veteran police officer, having graduated from the State Police Academy in 2002. Sheehan was currently assigned to the Russell Barracks, located along the Westfield Road in Russell, MA. Arraignment of the State trooper is set for Monday July 30th and a hearing to decide his duty status will be held this week.

In Massachusetts, the terms operating under the influence (OUI), driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI) are synonymous. The official charge is Massachusetts is known as Operating Under the Influence (OUI). The laws pertaining to OUI in Massachusetts are very strict and impose harsh penalties on those found in violation of them. The prosecution often seeks maximum sentencing when dealing with OUI offenders in an attempt to draw awareness to the dangerousness posed to the public by drunk drivers. When the offender happens to be a dedicated member of the State Police force, matters become even more intense. When a person who is sworn to uphold and enforce the law puts the community at large in danger by getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcohol, the case gains a heightened level of attention and comes under a higher level of scrutiny. The public and the press will follow the matter closely to determine if the accused is treated differently than anyone else accused of such a crime.

The impact of this arrest represents the nationwide crackdown on alcohol-impaired drivers. Massachusetts OUI lawyers know such enforcement efforts increase the risk of marginal and unfair arrests. A person who faces a first-time offense with no prior criminal history can be subjected to major sanctions, including jail time, a one year driver’s license suspension, fines and fees, possible alcohol education program and the possibility of probation in lieu of, or in addition to, jail time. Those are severe penalties for a first time mistake. That’s why it is important to contact an experienced Massachusetts OUI attorney to inform you of the consequences you face and to explore all the possible avenues of defense.
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Over 80% of OUI cases heard by a Massachusetts Judge and 50% of OUI cases in a jury trial are dismissed. This high rate of acquittals led the Boston Globe to launch a spotlight investigation on the matter in December of 2011. The findings of the final report show that the high rate of acquittals is due to the reluctance of prosecutors to dismiss flawed OUI cases, the improper administration of breath and blood tests, the inaccuracies from the results of those tests, and the prosecutions’ high burden of proof in regards to satisfying the elements of an OUI case. Most frequently, the arresting officer improperly administers the breath test on the suspect, thus leading to the inadmissibility of the evidence and the failure of the prosecution to proffer evidence of the suspect’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Breath testing instruments are small hand held pieces of technology, which like most technology, are often prone to errors. In fact, research indicates that breath tests can vary at least 15% from actual blood alcohol concentration. At least 23% (that’s about one out of every four) of all individuals tested will have a BAC reading higher than their actual BAC. Therefore, the findings of the test leave a lot to be interpreted and analyzed by your attorney and the judge presiding over your case.

DEFENSES TO BREATH TEST RESULTS
Breath testing instruments most commonly experience problems with calibration, interfering substances, and mouth alcohol. Most breathalyzers require recalibration at least once a year to maintain accuracy. Thus, if the tester has not received the proper recalibration maintenance, it may lead to inaccuracies and false readings of the machine. Additionally, there are non-alcoholic substances that can contribute to a false reading such as the weight, health, metabolism, diet, and mental health of the subject. Medical illnesses such as diabetes, emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma can also have a dramatic impact on the results of the test. Breath testing instruments are also quite sensitive to temperature; the machine is calibrated to test the breath at 34 degrees centigrade, but studies show that at the time of OUI arrest, people generally come closer to 35.5 degrees centigrade. The result of this can mean a 10-20% higher reading.
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