Articles Tagged with “OUI defenses”

Melanie’s Law was enacted to impose harsher penalties and sanctions against people that are charged with Operating Under the Influence in Massachusetts. The law has created new offenses that were not present prior to 2005 when it was signed into law. For instance, if someone who already has their license suspended for a previous operating under the influence (OUI), is arrested for operating under the influence again, they may now be charged with two offenses at the same time: OUI and OUI with a suspended license. This charge requires a mandatory jail sentence of at least one year and can be up to two and a half years, as well as a fine between $2,500-$10,000. In addition, a new crime was created for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol while there was child under the age of 14 in the vehicle. The driver can be charged with not only OUI, but also child endangerment while OUI. The punishment for a first offense is 90 days to 2.5 years imprisonment, a fine between $1,000-$5,000, as well as a yearlong suspension of the driver’s license. The crime of Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle was also created and implemented by Melanie’s Law. If a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating a vehicle commits manslaughter, the driver will be charged with Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle. The minimum sentence is 5 years imprisonment and can be up to 20 years, as well as a fine up to $25,000.

Under Melanie’s Law, if a person has been convicted of OUI two (2) times, and is eligible for a hardship license, or in order to have their license reinstated, the driver will be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in any vehicle that that person owns, leases or operates. The driver is required to pay for the expenses to install the device as well. The device requires that the driver have a blood alcohol reading of less than .02 in order for the vehicle to start. If the driver registers higher than .02, the vehicle will not start. The driver must report to company that installed the device every 30 days at which point the vendor uploads the data from the device and transmits it to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. If the device is necessary under the hardship license requirement, then the device must be used for the entire life of the hardship license, as well as an additional two (2) years after the license has been reinstated. If the driver is simply eligible for license reinstatement, then the device will be required for a mandatory two years. If the driver does not comply with the requirements, their license will be revoked for a minimum of 10 years, with the possibility of the revocation being for life.

Melanie’s Law does not specifically relate to just OUI offenders either. It is also applicable to persons that allow or hire an unlicensed individual or an individual with a suspended license to operate a motor vehicle. If an employer hires an individual with a suspended license to operate a motor vehicle, there is a $500 fine for the first offense, and up to one year in jail for a second offense. If person that owns or is in possession of a vehicle allows an individual that is unlicensed to operate the vehicle, the first offense is a sentence of one-year imprisonment and a fine up to $500. The same penalty is applicable if someone allows a person with an Ignition Interlock restriction to operate a vehicle without the device.
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In Massachusetts, the crimes of OUI, DUI, and DWI are very serious criminal offenses, for which a conviction can severely impact your future. The official charge is Massachusetts is known as Operating Under the Influence (OUI), and any individual found to be operating a vehicle after having ingested any alcoholic beverage or chemical substance that impairs their ability to drive safely may be charged. In order to establish the requisite probable cause necessary to make an arrest, police officers use field sobriety tests, breath tests, blood tests and other tests to determine whether a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The use of Field Sobriety Tests has become an increasingly regular routine in the United States, as they allow police officers to make roadside determinations of intoxication. In the event that you refused field sobriety tests, a talented Boston, Massachusetts OUI attorney will be able to file what is known as a Motion in Limine to prohibit the introduction of a defendant’s refusal of field sobriety tests. With the help of your attorney, your refusal of field sobriety tests will be blocked from trial, poking a huge hole in the prosecution’s strongest piece of evidence. Under the current case law in this area, the refusal to submit to field sobriety testing is not admissible as evidence against the defendant. Commonwealth v. McGrail, Commonwealth v. Ranieri.

A motion in limine is a legal written request filed by an attorney at a pre-trial hearing requesting that the judge rule that certain testimony regarding evidence or information may be excluded from the trial. A Motion in Limine means that the admissibility determination will be held away from the eyes and ears of the jury in a private meeting before the judge. This distinction prevents the jury from being prejudiced against the defendant due to evidence of the test result. In OUI cases, the prosecution must prove that (1) the car was operated, (2) on a public way or area members of the public have a right of access to, and (3) the operator of the vehicle was under the influence of some intoxicant. Thus, without the evidence of a refusal to take a field sobriety test, the remaining evidence will generally fall short in proving that the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Similar to this motion is what is known as a Pierre Motion, which works to suppress the results of a breath test in OUI cases. In Commonwealth v. Pierre, the Court held that a breath test result is considered to be inadmissible at trial unless and until the Commonwealth proves the result’s admissibility by establishing compliance with breath test regulations. In the event that the administration of the test was not in compliance with State standards, the breath test result is not considered reliable evidence and therefore the test result will be barred from entered as evidence. Especially in OUI cases, having a smart and strategic OUI defense lawyer on your side can be hugely beneficial to the outcome of your case.

The most common field sobriety tests utilized by police officers are the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, alcohol breath test, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration permits field sobriety tests to be administered because they have found the results of these tests to be reliable indicators for distinguishing blood alcohol content beyond the legal limit for driving, assuming that the tests were administered in a standardized manner by a properly trained police officer. Thus, a motion in limine can be an extremely beneficial tool to suppress evidence that the defendant refused to take field sobriety tests. Tests such as these are usually the crucial piece of evidence in an OUI case, as without it, extraneous factors such as blood-shot eyes, swerving while driving, or even slurred words can be explained in many other ways.
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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.

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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