Massachusetts OUI Defenses
As a Massachusetts OUI Lawyer, my goal in writing this page is to point out some of the defenses that may be present in your case to help you look at the police report through the eyes of an OUI Attorney. Below are examples of the various elements of a case I can challenge to make a defense for your case.
EXAMPLES OF ELEMENTS IN YOUR CASE THAT CAN BE CHALLENGED
Observations of the Police Officer
An OUI/DUI charge generally begins with a police officer stopping your car for an alleged traffic violation.
Your first line of defense is to challenge the basis of the stop.The arresting officer will generally observe a traffic infraction and state that as the basis for your car being stopped.
TrafficViolations Used to Justify the Stop
Many police reports state that a motorist crossed the double yellow line or hit the fog line, but there is no requirement in the law that motorists drive perfectly straight down the road.
In fact, it is common for people driving to touch the yellow line or the fog line and correct their steering.There are a number of reasons, including road conditions, weather conditions and momentary lapses of attention as a result of cell phones, the radio or other distractions while driving.
Common traffic violations that officers use to justify the stops are:
- Crossing the center line
- Crossing the fog line
- Turning too wide
- Almost striking an object
- Driving below the speed limit.
Being distracted while driving, for any number of reasons, does not equate to being under the influence of alcohol. Finding a theory that minimizes the driving infraction is critical for a strong DUI defense. Police officers often overstate, embellish and exaggerate the driving violations.
Legitimacy of the Basis for the Stop
OUI/DUI cases can be defended if the officer did not have a legitimate basis to stop your car.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as Article 14 of the Massachusetts State Constitution requires an officer to have reasonable suspicion that a criminal offense or traffic violation is occurring before an officer is permitted to pull your car over to the side of the road.
Massachusetts DUI law allows a lawyer to file a motion to challenge the legal basis for the stop prior to trial.
Even if this motion is denied, the opportunity to cross examine the officer prior to trial provides a valuable opportunity to minimize the significance of the traffic infraction that the officer claimed to observe.
Speeding as the Basis for the Stop
According to the DUI Detection Manual published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding does not indicate that a driver is under the influence.
Accordingly, if speeding was one or the only basis of the stop, it is not a sign of being under the influence of alcohol.
Officer’s Observations During the Pullover
When the police officer puts their blue lights on to stop your car, they are paying careful attention to how you pull over.
Many reports make no mention of difficulty pulling over. In those cases, the police report provides strong evidence of ‘safe’ driving.
Police officers are trained to interpet difficulty pulling over safely as a sign of an impaired driver.
Reliability of Field SobrietyTest Results
The National Highway andTraffic Safety Administration studies have demonstrated that routine field sobriety tests have minimal reliability.
There are issues we can raise to highlight the lack of reliability of failed field sobriety test results :
- Your physical condition- weight, age or medical conditions can make performance difficult under any circumstance
- Weather conditions
- Showing that the tests wereadministered or scored unfairly
- Unfair conditions at the roadside
Breathalyzer test results are not automatically included in evidence.
There have been many cases where a client has won their case with a breath test over .08.
In order to contest the breathalyzer test evidence, one or more of the following can be done:
- Retain an Expert to challenge the accuracy of the test results
- Show the result could actually be under the legal limit given the margin of error of the machine
- Present medical evidence to how a medical condition you suffer from negatively impacted your ability to perform the test, and therefore the results.
See this page for more information on Contesting Breathalyzer evidence.
You can call (781) 686-5924 or (508) 455-4755 to discuss your case and here how these defense apply. You can also download my free book Understanding Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws to learn more about defenses to your case.