A Newburyport District Court judge found sufficient facts to convict Methuen High School Assistant Principal Donald Gibson of a second offense OUI last week. The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reported that on April 25, 2008 Gibson was stopped by the Amesbury Police for a marked lanes violation after having left the Winner’s Circle in Salisbury, Massachusetts. Gibson admitted to drinking 5 beers and was placed under arrest. He was charged with OUI second offense which carries a penalty of 30 day mandatory in the Essex County House of Correction. Read Article, Lawrence Eagle Tribune August 29, 2008. However since Gibson’s prior conviction was more than 10 years old the judge had discretion to treat this as a first offense. See Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws G.L. c. 90 sec. 24D. The judge suspended Gibson’s license for 90 days, twice the minimum mandatory, placed him on probation for 2 years and required him to attend the alcohol awareness program. Gibson will be entitled to apply for a hardship license immediately. The case was continued without a finding, which essentially provides that if Gibson successfully completes his probation the case will be dismissed. There will always be a court record to alert judges and prosecutors that Gibson was given this break in 2008. With the exception of the 90 day license suspension this defendant was given the equivalent of a first offender’s disposition under G.L. 90 sec. 24D. Gibson’s first OUI offense was in 1981 out of the Lowell District Court. The result of Gibson’s case was typical of how second offense drunk driving cases (with the prior offense being over 10 years old) are resolved in Massachusetts.
People generally believe that if they had 5 beers as did Gibson they have no choice but to plead guilty. This however is not always the most prudent way to resolve the case. Our office utilizes toxicologists to evaluate the quantity of alcohol our clients drank over the period of time the beverages were consumed. This, coupled with the person’s weight and food consumption yields a fairly accurate estimate as to what the person’s blood alcohol was at the time of operation. You can drink and then drive. You cannot drive under the influence of alcohol. The presumptive level of impairment in Massachusetts is .08 blood alcohol. Five beers over five hours will not result in a .08 for most people.
These days people charged with OUI in Massachusetts usually want to resolve their case quickly particularly if this is a first offense. This is due to recent changes in the Massachusetts Drunk Driving laws. The most recent statute is also known as Melanie’s law. It rewards first time offenders who plead guilty by restoring their operating privileges almost immediately with certain restrictions. People opt for pleading guilty so that they can resume driving and continue on in life with minimal inconveniences. While seductive this is not always the most prudent way to resolve your case. Our office takes the time to analyze your case and advise you of all alternatives so that you will consider more than just getting your license back as soon as possible. Call us now with any questions about your drunk driving case in Massachusetts.
Related Web Resources:
Newburyport Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers, Stephen Neyman
Newburyport Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys, Kathleen M. McCarthy