Massachusetts DUI Laws

Massachusetts DUI Laws

Massachusetts DUI Laws

Elements of Massachusetts DUI Laws

According to Massachusetts Laws, to prove you guilty of OUI/DUI/DWI the Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a Reasonable Doubt. That you (1) operated a motor vehicle, (2) upon a public way, (3) while impaired by the ingestion of alcohol or illicit drugs. If they cannot establish one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you are entitled to a verdict of Not Guilty. Here is just a brief explanation of how these issues are fleshed out at trial.

 

Operation

To prove that you operated a motor vehicle, the Commonwealth needs to show that you took some affirmative action that either on its own, or in sequence, would set the car in motion. If you weren’t behind the wheel, or if the keys weren’t in the ignition, or if the engine wasn’t on, this can be a difficult element for the government to prove. Your statement that you were “just driving home from a party” does not, as a matter of law, prove that you operated that car. Attorney James G. DeGiacomo as a former Massachusetts prosecutor knows when Operation is an issue in your DUI case. Based on the facts of your case he may show the jury that the Commonwealth cannot prove that you were driving beyond a Reasonable Doubt and that you are not guilty.

Public Way

A public way, for purposes of Massachusetts DUI law, includes all state and interstate highways as well as municipal streets and roads. It also includes public parking areas as well as those places to which the general public has a right of access whether as guests or customers. More often than not, if you’re driving a car there, chances are it is a public way.

Impairment

To convict you of a DUI in Massachusetts the prosecution must prove that at the time that you were operating that motor vehicle, on that public way, your ability to do so safely was impaired by the ingestion of alcohol. There are two ways for the government to prove your impairment. The first is through evidence of your operation and performance on field sobriety tests. In virtually every Massachusetts DUI case, the officer will indicate that your eyes were “bloodshot and glassy” or that there was an “odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath” and that when you spoke, your speech was slow and slurred. None of these things mean that your ability to operate a motor vehicle was hampered in anyway.

Field Sobriety Tests

You have an affirmative right to refuse to perform field sobriety tests. The police cannot compel you to jump through hoops just because they ask you to. If you perform the Alphabet Test, the Counting Backwards Test, the Nine-Step-Walk-And-Turn Test, or the One-Legged Stand Test, officers will draw conclusions as to how your performance indicates to them that you cannot drive safely. Your performance on Field Sobriety tests is subjective and their ability to prove that you can’t drive safely is weak. As your Massachusetts DUI Lawyer, Attorney James G. DeGiacomo will show the jury that your performance on those tests is not enough to prove that you were too impaired to drive safely beyond a reasonable doubt.

Breathalyzer Tests

Another way by which the Commonwealth can try to prove that you were “impaired” at the time that you were operating is by admission of evidence indicating that at the time your blood alcohol content was 0.08% or greater. This is most often presented in the form of a Breathalyzer Test Result.

You have an affirmative right to refuse the Breathalyzer. Assert that right. If you submit to a Breathalyzer test, you are providing the police with evidence that they can and will use against you in your criminal case.

There are many ways by which Attorney James G. DeGiacomo can call into question the validity of your Breathalyzer test sample. For example, as your body processes alcohol your BAC may rise or fall over time. The Portable Breath Test that many people submit to at the roadside is not admissible in your criminal case; the only breath sample that the Commonwealth may use against you at trial is the one that you provide at the police station some time after your arrest and long after you were driving. If you give a breath sample an hour after you were driving, maybe your BAC is higher than it was when you were behind the wheel. The statute requires proof that you were impaired at the time that you were driving that motor vehicle, not an hour later at the police station. That is reasonable doubt that will help prove your innocence.

As a former prosecutor, Attorney James G. DeGiacomo knows the nuances of the Massachusetts DUI law. Even the most seemingly insignificant detail can create Reasonable Doubt that can help prove your innocence. Attorney James G. DeGiacomo knows what those details are and can exploit them to your benefit. Maybe the road you were on wasn’t a public way. Maybe there’s no proof you were actually operating the vehicle. Maybe the road on which you were driving doesn’t qualify as a public way. Maybe your performance on the field tests does not sufficiently indicate impairment. Maybe the Breathalyzer that produced your test result is faulty. All of these questions can be addressed during your Free Case Evaluation.