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.