There are three (3) elements that the Commonwealth must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, to obtain a Guilty verdict for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol. They are as follows:
1) Operation of the Motor Vehicle;
2) On a Public Way; and
3) While Under the Influence of Alcohol or With a Blood Alcohol level of .08% or greater.
Should I pull over to Sleep it off?
If your vehicle is parked, be sure to remove the key from the ignition. Often times people are wise enough to know that they shouldn't drive and the pull over to rest or sleep until they are able to operate the vehicle safely. If the police arrive and determine the operator to be under the influence and the key is in the igniton, even if the car is off and legally parked, the operation element of the statute can be proven.
Should I take the Breath Test?
In MA, if you refuse to take the Breath Test (BT), your license will be suspended for anywhere from 6 months to life. However, if you do take the BT you are providing a very important piece of evidence to the prosecution to prove their case against you. If you are found Not Guilty at trial, your lawyer can request that the judge order your license reinstated. If you are borderline and not sure you can pass the BT, but feel good about the other tests then the failing BT may be the only piece of evidence that gets the Guilty verdict and it would be unwise to take it. If on the other hand, you are so intoxicated that you are staggering and falling and have slurred speech, the BT is only one of several pieces of evidence to prove your Guilt and why take the additional suspension of license. In the event where you know you can pass the test, then of course you should. However, keep in mind that one of the first things that alcohol impairs is your ability to judge your own sobriety.
Do I need a lawyer if I know I am Guilty?
In almost every situation, if you are charged with a crime, you should hire the best attorney that you can afford. Operating Under the Influence (OUI) charges are certainly no exception to this rule. There are so many technical issues that an OUI Defense Attorney looks for to either have your charges dismissed or to obtain a Not Guilty verdict that they could not possibly all be listed here. You want your license back. You want your record clean. You want to be able to drive again as soon as possible. Lawyers who handle OUI charges day in and day out will look for things that even a good general practice lawyer will miss. The best advice that you can get is to hire the best attorney that you can afford and to follow his/her advice. If the police somehow violated your Constitutional rights, do not allow this injustice to go further by pleading Guilty before a good Defense Attorney reviews your case.
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