DUI Blog

RSS Grab Brooks and Crowley DUI Blog RSS Feeds


MASSACHUSETTS DUI CHECKPOINT SCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2010

Joseph Coupal - Saturday, February 20, 2010
The Massachusetts State Police recently announced that a “Sobriety Checkpoint” will be implemented by the State Police in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. This checkpoint is scheduled for Friday, February 26, 2010 into Saturday, February 27, 2010, and will take place during varied hours. Suffolk County is comprised of all of Boston, and the cities of Chelsea and Revere, Massachusetts. The State Police often team up with local law enforcement when operating these checkpoints, which may utilize over a dozen officers at a time as well as mobile breath testing equipment. Many of these roadblocks are part of the nationwide “Over The Limit, Under Arrest” mobilization, for which state and federal grant money is used to fund police overtime, equipment and education. The constitutionality of these checkpoints were recently upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. However, the police must strictly comply with the many requirements that the Court has outlined, and the failure to do so may result in the exclusion of all evidence obtained against a defendant. If you are arrested following a roadblock or “sobriety checkpoint,” contact an attorney who knows how to defend these cases successfully. Call Brooks & Crowley LLP at 781-251-0555.

MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE ANNOUNCE NEW ROADBLOCK FOR NOVEMBER 21, 2009

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 16, 2009
The Massachusetts State Police recently announced that a “Sobriety Checkpoint” will be implemented by the Massachusetts State Police on a Secondary State Highway in Essex County, Massachusetts. This checkpoint is scheduled for Saturday, November 21, 2009 into Sunday, November 22, 2009, and will take place during varied hours. The State Police often team up with local law enforcement when operating these checkpoints, which may utilize over a dozen officers at a time as well as mobile breath testing equipment. The constitutionality of these checkpoints were recently upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. However, the police must strictly comply with the many requirements that the Court has outlined, and the failure to do so may result in the exclusion of all evidence obtained against a defendant. If you are arrested following a roadblock or “sobriety checkpoint,” contact an attorney who knows how to defend these cases successfully. Call Brooks & Crowley LLP at 781-251-0555.

COURT DISALLOWS HIGHER BREATH TEST RESULT

Joseph Coupal - Sunday, November 01, 2009
In an opinion rendered on October 26, 2009, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that where two breath analysis tests were within less than .02 of each other, the Commonwealth could only introduce, in its prosecution of the defendant, the lower of the two breath sample results. The decision arose from a case where a drunk driving suspect consented to breath analysis testing and the results showed a breath sample having a blood alcohol level of .09 percent at 4:14 A.M. and another breath sample having a blood alcohol level of .10 percent at 4:18 A.M. Massachusetts law expressly requires two breath samples be taken in order to constitute a valid test. Also, if the two samples are more than .02 apart, then the test is invalid. As an example, in the reported case, if the breath analysis results were .09 and .11, then the higher test result would be admissible. If the results were .09 and .12, the results would be invalid since the tests were more than .02 apart. The imposition of a two-part procedure to obtain a defendant’s blood alcohol level essentially pertains to the validity of the breathalyzer test and does not speak of evidentiary value. The Court determined that allowing both tests to be introduced at trial would unnecessarily confuse a jury on a technical matter not within their common knowledge. To otherwise permit introduction of a marginally higher breath sample result only invites jurors to do what the regulatory framework prohibits, namely, to infer, or conclude, that the lower breath sample result is not accurate and that the defendant’s blood alcohol level has been underreported.

DUI AND FIELD SOBRIETY TESTING

Joseph Coupal - Friday, September 18, 2009
Police who suspect that a driver is impaired often administer field sobriety tests in order to gather additional incriminating evidence against the driver. These tests include the alphabet test, horizontal gaze nystagmus, 9-step walk and turn, and the 30-second one leg stand. Other possible tests are touching the finger to nose or counting backwards. Some of these tests have been shown to be somewhat reliable as a means to detect impairment, provided that the tests are administered correctly by the officer. A common issue in court is whether the officer correctly instructed the subject, and objectively scored the test. Since the accuracy rate of the tests (per the officers’ training materials) is less than 70% even if administered perfectly, much is gained by defendants who are able to show that the tests themselves were flawed, or that the officer administered the tests in a manner different from his or her training. Most police officers will testify that they did not decide to arrest until the field sobriety tests were completed, and admit on cross-examination that there was not probable cause until the defendant performed poorly on the tests. As a result, if the jury has doubt concerning the accuracy of the tests themselves, a defendant may be well on his way to an acquittal.

REFUSAL OF FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS LEADS TO SUPPRESSION OF EVIDENCE

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, September 17, 2009
As most people know, in the absence of overwhelming impairment, the police typically do not arrest a person for DUI until they have administered field sobriety tests. Although the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has held that, like a breath test refusal, a defendant’s refusal to perform field sobriety test is not admissible against him at trial. Many, if not most, people do submit to the tests when requested by police, perhaps because they are not aware that they may refuse. Recently, a Massachusetts client was pulled over late at night because of a defective headlamp. He was asked to step out of his vehicle when the officer smelled an odor of alcohol and observed his eyes to be red and glassy. The client complied and walked to the rear of the vehicle. When the officer asked him to perform the voluntary tests, the client politely refused, and he was arrested. At the police station, the client agreed to take a breath test, which yielded a .08% blood alcohol level. This week, the court held a hearing on our motion to suppress all evidence obtained after the arrest. Our contention was that the officer did not have probable cause to arrest, and so all evidence obtained as a result of the arrest was obtained unlawfully. After the hearing, the judge ruled that there was not probable cause to arrest the defendant while he was still in his car, since an odor of alcohol and red, glassy eyes were not sufficient by themselves to support a DUI arrest. Where no new evidence of impairment was obtained by the police when the defendant exited the vehicle, walked to the spot when the officer directed him, and refused the tests, the court agreed that there was still no probable cause to arrest. Since the defendant’s refusal to submit to tests could not penalize him in the eyes of the court, all evidence obtained after the arrest was excluded. In this case, the client’s respectful refusal to supply evidence against himself benefited him significantly in the end.

MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE ANNOUNCE NEW ROADBLOCK

Joseph Coupal - Monday, September 14, 2009
The Massachusetts State Police announced that a “Sobriety Checkpoint” will be implemented by the Massachusetts State Police on a Secondary State Highway in Worcester County, Massachusetts. This checkpoint is scheduled for Saturday night into Sunday morning, and will take place during varied hours. The State Police often team up with local law enforcement when operating these checkpoints, which may utilize over a dozen officers at a time. The constitutionality of these checkpoints were recently upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. However, the police must strictly comply with the many requirements that the Court has outlined, and the failure to do so may result in the exclusion of all evidence obtained against a defendant. If you are arrested following a roadblock or “sobriety checkpoint,” contact an attorney who knows how to defend these cases successfully. Call Brooks & Crowley LLP at 781-251-0555.

NEW STATE POLICE ROADBLOCK ANNOUNCED FOR 9/10/09 IN BOSTON AREA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Colonel Mark F. Delaney, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, has announced that a “Sobriety Checkpoint” will be implemented by the Massachusetts State Police in Suffolk County. This checkpoint is scheduled for Thursday night, September 10, 2009 into Friday, September 11, 2009 and will take place on a Secondary State Highway. Suffolk County is comprised of all of Boston, and the cities of Chelsea and Revere, Massachusetts. Many of these roadblocks are part of the nationwide “Over The Limit, Under Arrest” mobilization, for which state and federal grant money is used to fund police overtime, equipment and education. This roadblock coincides with the return of thousands of college students to the Boston area around Labor Day weekend.

SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT UPHOLDS CONSTITUTIONALITY OF ROADBLOCKS/SOBRIETY CHECKPOINTS

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 04, 2009
On July 23, 2009, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the constitutionality of police roadblocks.  In two separate cases, Commonwealth v. Murphy (SJC-10287) and Commonwealth v.  Swartz (SJC-10426), the Court decided that the Massachusetts State Police roadblock guideline (as set forth in TRF-15) was not unconstitutional on its face by virtue of its permitting some discretion to the officers who perform the initial screening.  In Swartz, the Court went on to decide that the roadblock in question was not a general search for evidence just because police were authorized to detain individuals if they observed evidence of a crime while briefly detaining members of the public during the sobriety checkpoint. While upholding the constitutionality of the roadblocks, these cases still leave open the possibility of suppressing evidence derived from them.  Where the police deviate from the either their own guidelines or those requirements previously set forth by the Court, motions to suppress evidence must be filed and courts must decide whether the police were in strict compliance with those rules. If not, the courts are free to exclude the evividence, which may be field sobriety tests, incriminatory statements such as admissions of drinking, alcohol containers, or breath or blood test evidence.

INTRODUCING THE MASSACHUSETTS DUI LAWYER WEBSITE

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 27, 2009
Today we launched our new website: Massachusetts DUI Lawyer. The website, like the blog, is intended to serve as a resource for Massachusetts DUI defendants and their legal representatives.

MELENDEZ-DIAZ AND DUI TRIALS

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts establishes that a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right of confrontation extends to the lab-technician who creates a report that is used as evidence in court. In Melendez-Diaz, the Supreme Court overturned the defendant’s drug conviction because the lab technician that had run the analysis was not available for cross-examination at trial. The Court characterized the evidence as “testimonial” in nature, which brought it within the scope of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Crawford v. Washington. In Crawford, the Court held that in order for testimonial evidence to be admitted, the defendant must have an opportunity to cross-examine the witness who is providing it. Melendez-Diaz may also be applicable to DUI cases when the Commonwealth attempts to introduce breathalyzer evidence. While the prosecution typically calls the breathalyzer operator to testify, they tend to rely on affidavits to establish that the machine has been tested and is reliable. Melendez-Diaz suggests that those affidavits might be insufficient, and that the person who did the testing and maintenance of the machine must be made available for cross-examination by the defendant.

[view google map]


Brooks & Crowley LLP serves clients throughout Massachusetts, and has offices in Dedham, Boston and Norwell


Main Office:

Brooks & Crowley LLP.
439 Washington Street,
Dedham, MA 02026
781-277-7321

Tel. 781-277-7321 | Fax 800-625-9021

Boston Office:

Brooks & Crowley LLP
112 Water Street
Boston, MA 02109

Tel. 781-277-7321 | Fax 800-625-9021

Norwell Office:

Brooks & Crowley LLP
320 Washington Street
Norwell, MA 02061

Tel. 781-277-7321 | Fax 800-625-9021

 

© Copyright 2020 Brooks and Crowley | All rights reserved. | Sitemap | Legal | Contact |

Web/Marketing created and maintained by WSI PRO Marketing.