Articles Posted in Drunk Driving

The defendant in a Massachusetts drunk driving case has certain constitutional rights. One of these rights in the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally speaking, this means that an officer of the law must either obtain the defendant’s consent or secure a search warrant in order to obtain certain types of evidence. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, such situations involving exigent circumstances. With regard to the issue of consent, there can be substantial disagreement as to whether a particular individual’s “consent” was voluntary under the circumstances (only “voluntary” consent excuses an officer’s failure to obtain a warrant, unless an exception applies) and, if there truly was voluntary consent, the extent of that consent.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently considered by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the defendant was a man who was involved in a car crash that rendered him unconscious. He was extracted from his car and taken to the hospital via ambulance. An officer placed him under arrest for operating while under the influence of alcohol and administered his Miranda warnings to him. The defendant admitted that he had been drinking and gave consent for a “chemical test to determine [his] blood alcohol concentration.” After a blood test was administered, confirming that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol, he was prosecuted for drunk driving.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of the blood tests. The trial court denied the motion, as well as his motion for reconsideration. The defendant then entered a conditional plea, wherein he admitted facts sufficient for a finding of guilty while appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress.

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A person who is suspected of operating under the influence (OUI) of drugs or alcohol on Cape Cod will probably be given a breathalyzer test at some point following his or her detention by police. Under Massachusetts law, there is a 15-minute waiting period prior to the administration of the test.

The purpose of the waiting period is to ensure that the defendant has not brought something into his or her mouth (such as food, drink, or a regurgitated substance resulting from a burp or hiccough) that would contaminate the breath sample or compromise the accuracy of the test. When this waiting period is not strictly respected, the defendant may have an argument that the test results should be suppressed and not used as evidence against him or her at trial. However, this argument will not prevail in every Massachusetts OUI case, since the resolution of such matters is very fact-specific.

Facts of the Case

Under the United States Constitution, the defendant in a criminal case has certain rights that, if violated, can potentially result in the reversal of a conviction. Among these rights are the Sixth Amendment rights to “a speedy and public trial” and “the assistance of counsel.”

A recent decision by the nation’s highest court explored whether the alleged violation of those rights in a particular Massachusetts criminal case was a basis to order a new trial.

Facts of the Case

Clearly, the United States Constitution guarantees the criminally accused the right to counsel. However, exactly when, and under which circumstances, that right first attaches is sometimes a point of contention.

Recently, Massachusetts’ highest court was called upon to revisit this issue as it concerned a defendant’s right to counsel regarding whether or not to submit to a breathalyzer test after being arrested for drunk driving.

In a previous case, the court had held that no such right exists, but the defendant pointed to a change in Massachusetts statutory law as a reason to change the common law as to this issue.

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According to the Executive Clemency Guidelines issued by Governor Deval L. Patrick earlier this year, “The grant of executive clemency is primarily to remove barriers often associated with a criminal record or sentence, therefore facilitating the reintegration of the petitioner into the community of the law abiding… [It] is warranted only in rare and exceptional circumstances.” Forty-three-year-old, Massachusetts-born actor Mark Wahlberg (known during his music career as “Marky Mark”) is seeking a gubernatorial pardon for crimes he committed in the late 1980s, hoping the Governor agrees with him that his circumstances are, in fact, exceptional.

Walhburg’s petition to the governor seeks relief from several crimes, including two counts of assault and battery by a dangerous weapon, possession of a controlled substance, and criminal contempt. At the time he committed the crimes, the actor was 16 years old and, he now says, under the influence of both narcotics and alcohol. Although he was a minor at the time, he was tried and convicted as an adult.

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As the summer comes to its unofficial close this Labor Day weekend, vacationers and residents in Cape Cod will likely be enjoying the last few barbecues and outdoor parties of the season.  The Massachusetts State Police are aware of the celebrations and are working to ensure that the state roads are safe and free from drivers under the influence.  At least in Plymouth County, the authorities have notified drivers that there will be a sobriety checkpoint, but they will not reveal the precise location.  Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is very dangerous and puts innocent motorists and pedestrians at risk.  Victims injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver may be entitled to compensation for their suffering and losses.  A local injury attorney can help to achieve the best possible settlement under the circumstances.

In 2011, there were 114 drunken driving fatalities in Massachusetts.  To put it another way, 33.8% of all driving fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver.  These are deaths that could have easily been prevented. In all likelihood, many of the victims were innocent and killed by the drunk driver. In addition to the fatalities, many more people suffer mild to serious injuries in drunk driving accidents.  In fact, according to an article in the Cape Cod Times, a 27-year-old woman from Plymouth is facing charges of drunk driving after she crashed her car into a telephone pole and landed on top of a tree four feet off of the ground. The collision took place on Route 130, which remained closed during the rescue.  As a result of the crash, the driver was seriously injured and trapped in her car.

It is reported that firefighters worked to remove part of a utility pole that was found on top of the car and had to stabilize the vehicle by using special jacks.  The driver was treated for her injuries while she was still inside the car.  Rescuers spent about 30 minutes removing the injured woman from the vehicle before she was transported to a hospital in South Weymouth with non life-threatening injuries.  Mashpee police charged the driver with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.  She was also charged with the negligent operation of a motor vehicle, speeding and a marked lanes violation. Continue Reading ›

A recent crash on the Sagamore Bridge, the road into and out of Cape Cod, involved two SUVs and one driver believed to be under the influence of alcohol and drugs.  According to reports, the impaired driver crashed head-on into another SUV, sending five people to area hospitals. Car accidents can cause severe injuries to innocent victims. People injured in a car crash as a result of another’s negligence may be entitled to compensation for their suffering and losses.  In order to protect your rights and maximize your recovery, it is important to contact a local injury attorney who is experienced in handling car accident cases.

The Cape Cod Today reported that a 25 year-old Provincetown woman was driving a 2013 GMC SUV when she collided with a 2012 Buick SUV driven by a 48 year-old woman from Williamstown, late on a recent Sunday night. In addition to the driver, there was another adult in the car and two children.  All of the people involved in the accident were sent to area hospitals for treatment.  Fortunately, no one is reported to have suffered life-threatening injuries.  Coincidentally, the accident took place close to where two men died in a car crash at the base of the Sagamore Bridge, just last month.

State Troopers arrived from Bourne shortly after the crash took place. Their investigation revealed that the woman who caused the crash was operating her vehicle under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  During the investigation, the southbound lanes of the bridge were closed for nearly two hours.  Local authorities have charged the impaired driver with operating under the influence (“OUI”) of drugs, OUI of liquor, two counts of possession of a Class E substance, possession of a Class B substance, marked lanes violation, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and a seat belt violation.  She will be summoned to the Falmouth District Court to respond to the numerous charges.

The most important question in any car accident case is: “What caused the crash?”  Under Massachusetts’s law, drivers have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care when operating a motor vehicle. This includes obeying traffic safety laws, avoiding any activity that can be distracting while driving (such as texting or talking on a cell phone), and certainly not driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. A person injured in a car accident caused by another person’s failure to fulfill that duty, or negligence, has a legal right to seek compensation for the resulting damages. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, an injured party may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and expenses, property damage, psychological counseling, lost salary and wages, or a reduced earning capacity, pain and suffering, as well as emotional distress.

In the accident described above, the cause of the crash seems to be the negligent actions of the impaired driver.  If the victims suffered any injury or losses, they would most likely be entitled to compensation.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, it is important to contact a local injury attorney with extensive experienced handling all aspects of a car accident case. Continue Reading ›


Car accidents in Cape Cod occur as a result of many different potential factors: distracted driving, speeding, failing to obey other traffic safety laws, and one of the most deadly — driving under the influence of alcohol.  Victims of any of these kinds of accidents are usually entitled to compensation for injuries sustained. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, it is essential that you contact a local personal injury attorney to help secure the fairest recovery for your suffering.

The government is currently trying to reduce the number of accidents due to drivers who have been drinking alcohol. The National Transportation Safety Board (the “NTSB”) recently announced a recommendation that states cut the permissible blood-alcohol concentration by a third, from .08 percent to .05 percent.  The change is suggested due to the number of deaths and injuries caused by drivers who have not reached the current legal standard of .08 percent, but who nonetheless are driving impaired with a compromised ability to make decisions, see or operate a vehicle.

According to the news article, approximately 30 percent of all vehicle fatalities are linked to drunken driving.  To put it another way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that each day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Sadly, these numbers translate to one death every 48 minutes. On a more local level, in 2011, the State of Massachusetts recorded 114 alcohol-related fatalities. Continue Reading ›

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