Articles Tagged with OUI/DWI

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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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The use of Breathalyzer test instruments has become an increasingly regular routine in the United States, as they allow police officers to make roadside determinations of intoxication. The results from roadside administered breath testing machines provides evidence of the accused’s blood alcohol content, which is enough to constitute an arrest for Operating Under the Influence (OUI) in Massachusetts under General Laws c. 90 s. 24. However, the use of breath testing machines, more commonly known as breathalyzers, in OUI cases is often contested due to the inefficiency and inaccuracy of the machine’s readings. The problem with the testing machines arises when the breath testing instruments give an incorrect read, face problems of inaccuracy, or a police officer makes a mistake administering the test or during the aftermath of the arrest. Because breath testing involves the analysis of microscopic amounts of alcohol it is critical that everything involving the breath test be done with precision and pursuant to established procedures–small variances in procedures can result in huge variances in results. In the event that the breath testing machine has given a false or inaccurate read, an experienced Boston, Massachusetts OUI attorney will be able to file what is known as a Pierre Motion, or a Motion in Limine to have the results of the breath test suppressed.

WHAT IS A PIERRE MOTION?
Established in 2008 in Commonwealth v. Pierre, the Court held that the Commonwealth must prove the admissibility of a breath test result before admitting said result into evidence at trial. 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. Massachusetts requires a breath test to be administered in accordance with M.G.L. c. 90, §24K and 501 CMR 2.00. Both this law and regulation set forth the proper method for administering a breath test, and require the certification of breath testing machines and completed training courses for officers who wish to operate the devices.

According to 501 CMR 2.14, proper administration of a breath test requires four parts: (1) The arrestee’s consent to a breath test shall be documented by the arresting officer or the Breath Test Officer (BTO), 
(2) The breath test shall be administered by a certified BTO on a certified breath test device, 
(3) The breath test shall consist of a multipart sequence consisting of: (a) one adequate breath sample analysis; 
(b) one calibration standard analysis; and 
(c) a second adequate breath sample analysis, and (4) If the sequence does not result in breath samples that are within 0.02% blood alcohol content, the officer must re-administer a new testing sequence. A Pierre Motion is a preliminary motion that will determine whether the testing was appropriately administered. In the event that the administration of the test was not in compliance with M.G.L. c. 90, §24K and 501 CMR 2.00, the test result is not considered reliable evidence and therefore the test result will be barred from entered as evidence. The Pierre Motion is a Motion in Limine, which 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.
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The Boston Globe reported that a Norfolk woman is facing a second drunken driving charge after allegedly causing a multiple car collision in Attleboro according to several 911 callers. State Police charged her with operating under the influence of liquor, second offense, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, unlicensed operation, and marked lanes violations. After interviewing other drivers and administering field sobriety tests, State Police determined that the woman was driving while intoxicated. Police arrested her and took her into custody, transporting her to the State Police barracks in Foxborough. Three people not seriously injured were taken to local hospitals for treatment. The woman was arraigned on Monday in the Attleboro District Court and was ordered held on $3,000 bail with pretrial probation conditions to remain alcohol-free and to refrain from driving an automobile. Her license to operate an automobile was confiscated by the State Police and revoked indefinitely because police deemed her an immediate threat.

If convicted of a second offense OUI, a judge could sentence a defendant to prison for not less than 60 days or up to 2 ½ years in a house of correction. There is a mandatory 30 days that must be served in a house of correction, which may be served at a designated treatment facility for alcohol issues. If a defendant has less than 2 prior convictions he or she is eligible for 2 years of probation in addition to a 14 day in-patient residential alcohol treatment facility. The Registry of Motor Vehicles in Massachusetts will also suspend your license for 2 years. A defendant can apply for a hardship license after a year with the requirement of an alcohol interlocking device in the car during the period of hardship.
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In a recent ruling representing a change in the interpretation of Melanie’s Law, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has ruled that the Massachusetts Legislature did not intend that an “admission to sufficient facts” also known as a “CWOF” or “continuance without a finding of guilt” in a drunk driving case to be treated as a conviction by the Registry of Motor Vehicles when acting pursuant to G.L. c.90, § 24(1)(f)(1) to suspend an operator’s driver’s license for more that 180 days due to the driver’s refusal to take a breathalyzer test.

In so holding, the SJC decided that a person charged with operating under the influence of alcohol who receives a continuance without a finding -a routine disposition for first-time drunk driving offenders-shall not have their case counted as a first offense conviction on their record. The lawyer for the Registry of Motor Vehicles contended that a CWOF should be treated as a conviction subjecting a repeat (DWI/OUI) offenders to the additional license suspension penalties.

The case name is Souza v. Registry of Motor Vehicles and was decided on May 17, 2012 as reported in the Boston Herald. In this case, a defendant arrested and charged with OUI admitted to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty but he did not plead guilty and his case was continued without a finding and later dismissed after he successfully completed his probationary terms. The defendant was arrested again thirteen years later and he had refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. Later, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles suspended his driver’s license for three years pursuant to G.L. c.90, § 24(1)(f)(1) which directs that the RMV suspend the license for three years for a breath test refusal if the driver has been previously convicted of an OUI crime. If there is no previous conviction, the RMV suspension is for 180 days.
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