Articles Tagged with OUI

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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.

WHAT IS A MOTION IN LIMINE?
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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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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One of the most common ways for Massachusetts State Police to charge drivers with Operating Under the Influence (OUI) is through the use of roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints. The purpose of a sobriety checkpoint as defined by the Massachusetts legislature is to “further educate the motoring public and strengthen the public’s awareness to the need of detecting and removing those motorists who operate under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs from our roadways.” Sobriety checkpoints and roadblocks are organized in a joint effort by the State and local police, through which cars traveling on a predetermined road will be stopped and subject to police questioning. This allows officers to take an initial overview of the condition of the car and the condition of the driver, assessing whether the driver could be under the influence of alcohol. If the officer reasonably suspects that the driver may be under the influence of alcohol, he or she will be directed to take a preliminary breath or chemical test or instructed to perform a series of roadside sobriety tests. If you register a 0.08% blood alcohol content during a roadside sobriety test or breath test in Massachusetts, you may be charged with operating under the influence and face serious consequences. In instances such as these, the evidence of ones impairment while operating a vehicle are exclusively found in the results of the breath, chemical, or roadside sobriety test issued by the police officer. The results of these tests are often incorrect or inaccurate due to human and machine errors. An aggressive and accomplished Massachusetts OUI defense attorney will know how to proceed with your case and achieve the most favorable outcome in the event you are charged with OUI at a roadblock.

Fourth Amendment Conflict
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure, thus it is illegal to stop or search someone without a search warrant or at least probable cause. While the U.S. Supreme Court has made the OUI exemption to the Constitution, twelve states have found that sobriety checkpoints violate their own state constitutions or have outlawed them. In these states, individuals have more protections against unreasonable searches, and have banned the use of police sobriety roadblocks. However, this is not the case in Massachusetts. In the 1980’s, Massachusetts’s residents challenged the constitutionality of the use of such roadblocks to catch those driving under the influence. In Commonwealth v. McGeoghegan, 389 Mass. 137 (1983) and Commonwealth v. Trumble, 396 Mass. 81, 92 (1985), the Massachusetts Supreme Court found that the State police’s method of using roadblocks to detect drunk drivers was reasonable under both the State and Federal constitution. The adjudication of these cases did however prompt the Massachusetts Supreme Court to outline the necessary requirements to establish a legal roadblock. For a roadblock to be permissible under Massachusetts state law, it appears that the selection of motor vehicles to be stopped must not be arbitrary, safety must be assured, motorists’ inconvenience must be minimized and assurance must be given that the procedure is being conducted pursuant to a plan devised by law enforcement supervisory personnel. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts also requires the state police to notify the media within four days that a sobriety checkpoint is going to be held on a specific date in a specific county.

The biggest issue with the use of roadblocks in Massachusetts is that police officers do not have to witness any erratic behavior or dangerous driving to pull you over; in other words, there exists no probable cause for the stop. This lack of probable cause leads to the dismissal of many OUI cases in Massachusetts, as the police officer will be required to admit that the individual’s driving or conduct was never at issue. An experienced Massachusetts OUI criminal defense attorney will know the best defenses and strategies to win your case. In the event that you are charged with an OUI at a roadblock, speak to a smart and qualified attorney immediately.
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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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When you are charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the official charge in Massachusetts is Operating Under the Influence (OUI). Today, the terms ‘OUI’ ‘DUI’ and ‘DWI’ are used interchangeably. Operating under the influence has become one of the most commonly encountered offenses in Massachusetts. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 17,500 people were killed in automobile collisions involving alcohol in 2002. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this represents 41 percent of the 42,815 people killed in all traffic accidents and crashes that year. Statistical evidence such as this lead to the passing of ‘Melanie’s Law’ in 2005, the purpose of which was to enhance the penalties attached to OUI offenders.

Being charged with an OUI is a serious offense in the state of Massachusetts, and someone charged would be well advised to seek legal counsel. A person may be found guilty of Operating Under the Influence (OUI) if they are 1) at least 21 and 2) register at .08% or higher when tested for your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you’re younger than 21, you will face administrative penalties if you test at .02 or higher, plus standard charges at .08 or higher. If you are convicted, the penalties can be harsh and include imprisonment, significant fines, and suspension of driver’s license, probation, community service sentence, and mandatory enrollment in DUI traffic school.

PENALTIES ATTACHED

Being charged with OUI for the first time can be an extremely stressful and frightening experience. However, retaining an experienced Massachusetts defense attorney for your case can relax the situation and minimize the apprehension. In the event one is found guilty of an OUI first-offense, an individual faces a maximum 2 ½ years in jail, a $5,000 fine, and a 5-year license suspension at your RMV hearing. Drivers arrested for a first OUI offense can get their sentences reduced by agreeing to complete a state-approved alcohol education program. This is not an option after the first offense.

As you probably expected, the penalties for a second offense OUI are more severe. In any case, a qualified OUI defense attorney can significantly reduce the harsh penalties you will be facing. If convicted of a second offense it is possible you will be punished by a fine of at least $600 to the maximum $10,000, and imprisonment for a minimum of 60 days ranging to 2 ½ years; Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 90, § 24. In addition, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will suspend your driver’s license for 2 years when you are convicted on a second offense OUI.
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