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Driving Under The Influence

Some common crimes our clients in Lowell, Massachusetts, and across the area face include Operation of a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol (otherwise known as an OUI or DUI or DWI), Domestic Assault and Battery and Possession and/or Distribution of Narcotics. There are other crimes commonly associated with these offenses and unique defenses for them.

Operation Of A Motor Vehicle While Under The Influence of Alcohol (OUI)

The crime of OUI requires the prosecution (also known as the "Commonwealth" in Massachusetts) to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant (1) operated, (2) a motor vehicle, (3) upon a public way or a way the public has the right to access, and (4) that, while operating the motor vehicle the defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquor OR the defendant's blood alcohol content was at or greater than .08 percent.

There are crimes that often accompany an OUI. They include Leaving the Scene of an Accident after Causing Personal Injury or Property Damage, Negligent or Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle and Child Endangerment while OUI. When speaking to an attorney about an OUI arrest, you should inform them of all the charged offenses, as well as any probation matters that were open at the time of the alleged OUI offense.

Refusal To Submit To A Breath Or Blood Test

An OUI suspect may refuse a breath test, blood test and field sobriety test. Under the fourth element of OUI, the Commonwealth does not have to prove the defendant's operation of the motor vehicle was impaired due to intoxication if his or her blood alcohol content was at or greater than .08 percent. While the defense may challenge the procedure followed during a breath test or blood test, it is a low-percentage challenge, as strict compliance is not necessary. If the defendant refused the breath test, although his or her license would be suspended for the refusal; the refusal, itself, would not be admissible against the defendant at trial, and, absent a blood test, the Commonwealth would have to prove its case under the theory of impaired operation. Refusals of blood tests are tricky because they are made outside the presence of law enforcement personnel and to non-law enforcement personnel (doctors and nurses, for example) who do not implicate the constitutional rights resulting in the refusal's exclusion at trial. Refusals to take field sobriety tests do not result in a loss of driver's license and are not admissible against the defendant at trial.

The penalties associated with OUIs are serious. They may result in criminal sanctions of jail time, heavy fines and costs, loss of driver's license and substantial probation conditions, such as paying for and attending a Drug and Education Program. Subsequent offenses would also require an ignition interlock device to be installed in the defendant's motor vehicle for a period of at least two years after restoration of his or her driver's license. A person convicted for an OUI may be eligible for a hardship license during the period of his or her driver's license suspension. When a person may be eligible for a hardship license depends upon the existence of prior OUI offenses, what other violations may also be causing a loss of driver's license (e.g., breath test refusal suspensions), and the person's age, and the length of the OUI driver's license suspension.

How To Contact Our Law Firm

We can help you. The laws surrounding OUIs and related offenses are complicated. If you have been charged with an OUI do not hesitate to contact Manzi, Seccareccio & Merwin, P.C., immediately by calling 978-703-8517 or 781-304-8864.