We defend individuals against allegations of drunk driving or operating under the influence (OUI). OUI, which in some states is called driving under the influence or DUI, involves operating a motor vehicle on a public way while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or other drugs. Especially since Melanie’s Law was enacted in 2005, an OUI conviction can result in severe consequences, including prison time and driver’s license suspension even for a first offense, and steeper penalties (up to 5 years in prison and permanent loss of license) if someone has prior OUI offenses on their record.
The charge of OUI is deceptively simple, but the government must prove several things to secure a conviction. While there are many common situations in OUI cases, every set of facts is unique. We look at each client’s situation individually to formulate a strong defense on one or more of the “essential elements” of OUI. If a police officer does not observe a defendant actually driving a vehicle, especially if there are multiple people in the car, we may be able to contest “operation.” Even if a defendant is behind the wheel, if they are somewhere other than a highway or other public road (for instance, train tracks or a driveway), we can assess whether they were driving on a “public way.”
Probably the most commonly contested issue is whether or not a defendant was “under the influence.” Drivers suspected of drunk driving are typically asked to take a breathalyzer test. If they refuse, their license will be immediately suspended but potentially damaging evidence will not be created. If they agree, a reading of 0.08 (for drivers old enough to drink legally) establishes that the driver is under the influence, no matter how well they seemed to be driving. In such a situation, we would explore whether the breathalyzer machine could have been malfunctioning or incorrectly calibrated, if the officer could have been using it incorrectly, or if for some other reason the reading could be incorrect. State law and regulations specify how a breathalyzer test should be conducted, and failure to follow the proper procedures can result in the test results being thrown out. Without an admissible reading of 0.08, the government has to prove that a defendant consumed alcohol or took drugs, and that those substances actually impaired their driving. This issue, in particular, can often be successfully challenged in court. If the officer did not observe a defendant driving dangerously or erratically, it may also be possible to get the charges thrown out based on an improper traffic stop not based on reasonable suspicion.
We are familiar with the OUI laws and have achieved positive outcomes for our clients. We have taken numerous cases to trial and obtained verdicts of not guilty. For cases that can be resolved before trial, knowledge of the enhancements and penalties under Melanie’s Law is critical for avoiding unnecessary consequences. We always strive for the best possible results for our clients. If you have been arrested or charged with OUI, we encourage you to call us at (617) 742-6020 to speak with an attorney.