The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Hallinan paved the way for anyone convicted of an OUI with a breath test from 2012-2019 to have their old case vacated without fear of harsher penalties if convicted after retrial.
What steps should you take if you did admit to a breath test or were convicted after trial. Keep in mind: even if you got a CWOF on an OUIU charge that counts as a conviction and can be vacated.
Here is what I would recommend you do. I have been vacating these old OUI cases for the past two years and have had at least 10 clients receive new trials. None of my clients have been subsequently convicted of OUI; all have had their prior conviction either dismissed or they were found not guilty.
Step 1: Contact a lawyer who handles OUI cases in Massachusetts.
Step 2: Review the police report of the old case with your lawyer. You and your lawyer will make a determination as to whether the Court is likely to allow a motion for new trial. You will have to show that without the breath test there was a reasonable probability that you would have taken the case to trial. In many cases, you should be able to meet this standard. If there are significant observations, an accident, an admission to alcohol consumption and or alcohol in the car, the Court may deny the motion finding that you would have taken a plea even without the breath test evidence.
The Commonwealth may be able to prove the case still but it will require these two conditions to be met:
First, the Commonwealth’s witnesses must be still available and the Commonwealth elect to go to trial again on the case. Second, the Commonwealth will still have to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. When cases are old, often witnesses do not recall all the details of the event and the evidence the Commonwealth is able to present may be lessened both in the number of witnesses and the strength of the testimony. For second and third offenders, vacating a plea can have very important license implications even if there is a conviction on the underlying case that was reopened.
For example if someone is currently facing a third offense OUI and refused a breath test, there is a five year suspension for the breath test refusal. However, if an earlier OUI charge is vacated, then the suspension will drop to three year for refusal because at the time of the suspension there would be one less prior conviction.
The Hallihan decision puts no downside in trying to seek a new trial as the Court held that the RMV must give credit for any license suspension that was partially served or served in full if there is a conviction after the case is reopened.
At DelSignore Law, we have been assisting clients remove old OUI’s from their record and helping those charged with multiple offenses get back on the road. Call or text at 781-686-5924 to learn more about how this decision may impact a current OUI charge you are facing.