Flashing red lights in your rear-view mirror after you have had a drink or two is bad news. Not knowing how to defend your rights is even worse.
A conviction for OUI, operating under the influence, carries costly penalties. You also face personal embarrassment.
Just one conviction can ruin your life
A first OUI conviction in Massachusetts is a serious matter. You face:
- Up to two-and-a-half years in prison
- A fine of $500 to $5,000
- Community service
- A mandatory driver education program (you pay for it)
- A $100 surcharge
- Other assessments ranging up to $250
- Suspension of your license for one year
Penalties worsen when:
- You cause an accident resulting in injury
- A child 14 or younger is in your vehicle
- You are 17 to 21 with a blood alcohol content of 0.20% or higher
You have options for defending yourself
You may think an officer’s testimony or OUI test results determine your fate. Yet you can challenge your OUI arrest by questioning the circumstances. Police must have a valid reason, such as witnessing a driving infraction, for pulling you over. If they do not, the courts cannot allow the evidence to be used against you.
The field sobriety test results may be invalid. Police can err by administering the tests in poor lighting or on uneven payment. They may not explain the instructions well. Improper footwear, such as high heels or sandals, can affect a walk-and-turn test. Medication can impact a horizontal gaze test.
You may also question the accuracy of a breath analyzer test, including the training of the person who administered your test. Police may not maintain or calibrate breath testing devices. The presence of breath mints, toothpaste or perfume can fool the machines.
Take charge of your situation
Police, prosecutors and the legal system are not infallible. They make mistakes. You have rights. Raise doubts about the case against you by going on the offensive. You need to know what questions to ask. The answers can swing the case in your favor.