If charged with a drunk driving offense, call Springfield OUI lawyer Dan Daly at Daly Law, P.C. to assist you during this difficult time. Attorney Daly assists clients with OUI charges in all courthouses in Western Massachusetts.Operating Under the Influence M.G.L. 90 sec. 24
In Massachusetts, an OUI offense can be devastating to a person’s work and family life. Moments after the arrest, the effects are felt by the loss of one’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle: 30 days for failing a breath test (a BrAC sample of .08 or above) or a minimum of 180 days for refusing to submit a breath sample (the loss of license increases on a “refusal” for second and subsequent offenses). This is one of the very few offenses where a person is actually punished before they go to court for their initial appearance; called an arraignment. While the goal should be to avoid a conviction all together, if a guilty finding occurs, the following penalties apply:
- A potential jail sentence not to exceed 2.5 years; and/or
- A minimum $500 fine up to a maximum of $5,000; and
- A 1 year loss of license
Often times, the prosecutor will offer a Continuance without a Finding (“CWOF”) for first time offenders. This first time offender program is referred to as a “24D” disposition in the courts and cites the M.G.L. statute that spells out exactly what a person must complete to resolve their case in this manner. Essentially a person will “admit to sufficient facts” and go on probation for 1-2 years, pays fines and fees, and complete an Alcohol Education Program focusing on the dangers of driving while impaired. If all the terms are successfully met, the case is dismissed.
While this is a beneficial way to resolve an OUI case, there are collateral consequences of accepting this type of disposition that must be considered. After weighing all the evidence, it may be in a person’s best interest to risk a conviction and take their case to trial. There is no “one size fits all” answer to the very personal question of whether a case should be resolved via a 24D disposition or trial. That question can only be answered after a thorough review of all the evidence in your case and consultation with an experienced Springfield OUI lawyer. A skilled attorney who is familiar with OUI cases is necessary to properly evaluate the strength of the Government’s case against you when guiding you through this very stressful and difficult time.
Every OUI case has the same 3 elements that the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Operation of a Motor Vehicle
- On a Public Way
- While Under the Influence.
While the defense of an OUI case can focus on any or all of these three elements, the overwhelming majority of cases that go to trial focus on the “under the influence” prong of the offense. Contrary to public perception, a person does not need to be “drunk” or “intoxicated” to satisfy this element. The Government can satisfy this element of the offense by presenting evidence at trial that a person was affected by the consumption of either drug or alcohol to such a degree that their ability to operate a motor vehicle was diminished; even slightly so. The Government may also attempt to satisfy this element by introducing chemical testing showing that a person operated a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or above. When the Government proceeds on this “per se theory” of a chemical score, they do not need to show a diminished ability to operate. In other words, the crime they are attempting to prove is the operation of a motor vehicle with a particular BAC over .08. Once that is established by admissible evidence that the jury credits, then the Government has satisfied their burden of proof.
An attorney skilled in OUI cases is VITAL to securing a “not guilty” finding at trial. While many criminal law probationers “dabble in” OUI cases, there are a select few who have serious credentials in the field and keep up to date on developments in the law. In short, there are two major lines of attack in any OUI trial = (1) discrediting the field sobriety tests, and (2) discrediting the chemical test (blood, urine, and/or breath). Springfield OUI attorney Dan Daly stands ready and able to lead that attack.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has developed a battery of standardized field sobriety tests (“SFSTs”) which police agencies throughout the United States are trained to administer in an attempt to identify and arrest those motorists suspected of operating while impaired. The SFSTs consists of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (“HGN”), the 9-Step Walk and Turn (“WAT”), and the One Leg Stand (“OLS”). Any lawyer trying OUI cases must have a mastery of these 3 tests in order to discredit them at trial. The main method of discrediting these tests and pointing out to the jury that they have no validity is by either pointing out how they were improperly administered to the motorist (thereby rendering them unreliable), improperly scored or interpreted, and/or that the motorist had some other explanation for the poor performance other than drug or alcohol consumption.
In dealing with cases that have a chemical test sample (blood, urine, or breath), the same line of attack holds true. While there may be constitutional or statutory grounds to exclude the test result, a lawyer more often than not should be focusing their attack on error or malfunctioning of the machine itself and/or error by the operator while administering the test. To say another way, the best defense will focus on demonstrating how the machine collecting the sample is not functioning properly or the person operating the machine made a mistake (human error).
Prior to becoming a criminal defense attorney focused on OUI and drunk driving cases, Attorney Daly was a Boston Police Officer certified by NHTSA in the administration of SFSTs. Attorney Daly is one of the only attorneys in Massachusetts – if not the only one – to receive this certification as a police officer and actually perform these tests on the street as opposed to a controlled classroom setting. This experience is invaluable to Attorney Daly’s approach when attacking the SFSTs’ validity at trial and the manner in which they were administered to a motorist.
Contact Springfield OUI lawyer Attorney Dan Daly today for a free no-obligation case evaluation today.