Halloween is approaching, as we can tell from the crisp weather, the black and orange decorations and the costume advertisements that seem to pop up this time of year.
And while it’s primarily a holiday for children to go door-to-door and try to get as much candy as they can, let’s face it, it’s a holiday for adults, too. During the weekend there will be parties where friends get together with outrageous costumes to try to impress each other and there likely will be alcohol.
The key here is to enjoy yourself, but do it responsibly. It’s quite likely that police throughout Massachusetts will employ OUI roadblocks as a way to trap drunk drivers. This can lead to an arrest for drunk driving charges in Massachusetts this Halloween weekend.
If this happens, the first move should be to contact an experienced Massachusetts DUI defense lawyer. Getting an attorney involved as quickly as possible can only benefit you. The longer a defendant waits, the more an attorney has to play catch up to get apprised of the facts and be prepared for trial.
When officers pull drivers over, they must have what’s called probable cause. This is true in any situation. They must have a reason to pull over a vehicle. Some typical examples of reasons are if the driver was speeding, swerving, improperly changed lanes or ran a stop sign.
Probable cause is required so that officers can’t simply pull over a vehicle for no reason and try to search it. The probable cause for the stop can be challenged in a OUI case.
After the initial stop is made, the officer will use his or her training to make observations about the driver that could lead them to believe the driver is operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. What they typically rely on are things like slurred speech, glassy or bloodshot eyes and the inability to have a coherent conversation.
That is the key moment that determines whether the officer is simply going to decide whether or not to give a ticket for speeding and whether he or she is going to pursue a DUI investigation.
If it’s the latter, the officer will usually ask the driver to step out of the vehicle and take field sobriety tests and/or a breath test. Refusing to take a breath test automatically results in a driver’s license suspension. However, it will also deny the state a key piece of evidence to use against you at trial.
Field sobriety testing is when an officer asks the driver to take nine steps and turn around to determine their balance, stand on one leg and follow an object from side to side.
All of these can be challenged as well, depending on whether they were conducted properly, whether video from the officer’s cruiser contradicts the observations on the police report, and whether other factors, such as the person’s physical ailments or the weather could have affected their ability to perform.
This Halloween, enjoy your time with your friends and pick out a good costume. Drink responsibly so that you don’t give the police any reason to interfere with your life. If you find yourself arrested, don’t panic, call an experienced Massachusetts DUI defense lawyer, who will defend your rights.
The Law Offices of Michael DelSignore are conveniently located in Stoughton, Attleboro, New Bedford and Westborough.
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4th Offense OUI conviction from Attleboro District Court results in one year jail sentence: October 16, 2011