Earlier today, a jury in the Peabody District Court acquitted one of our clients of a second offense drunk driving charge. The case was tried by Attorney Stephen Neyman, an experienced Massachusetts Drunk Driving Lawyer. The facts of the case as reported by the arresting police officer are as follows:
On Sunday, March 16, 2008 shortly after 1:00 a.m. a Peabody Police Officer was
on patrol on Andover Street when he observed a pick-up truck being
driven by our client drifting over the right lane marker five times.
The officer observed this pattern from 300 Andover Street (Route 114)
to the intersection of Andover Street and Sylvan Street. After the
vehicle turned left on Sylvan Street the officer activated his overhead
lights. The officer approached the driver and observed his eyes to be
glassy and bloodshot. He also detected an odor of alcohol coming from
inside the vehicle. The officer asked our client where he was going to
which he replied “Denny’s”. The officer then asked our client how much
he had to drink to which he replied “a couple of beers”. When asked
the produce his license and registration our client experienced some
difficulties. Accordingly, the officer asked him to get out of his
car. The client complied and the officer noticed that he was
“stiff-legged” and “unsteady on his feet”. As a result, a series of field sobriety tests were offered.
Three tests were administered.
First was the alphabet test. The officer stated that our client
stopped at the letter “T” and then continued with the remainder of the
alphabet, this time starting with the letter “T”. The officer opined
that the defendant failed that test. Second, was the “walk and turn”
test. The client was asked to walk nine steps, heal to to with his
arms by his said. The officer said that the defendant walked off of
the line three times and that he kept his arms behind his back.
Conclusion: another failed field sobriety test. The third test was
the “one legged stand” test. After two tries our client admitted that
he could not perform this test. Once again the officer believed that
this test too was not performed satisfactorily.
The defendant was then arrested and
booked. The arresting officer looked in the pick-up truck and observed
a half full beer, “cold to the touch”. The officer let the passenger,
our client’s girlfriend, drive the pick-up truck away. During booking
the defendant told the booking officer that he had six beers and one
shot of tequila over a five hour period. The breathalyzer test was
At trial the prosecution called the
arresting officer and the booking officer. Their testimony was as
discussed above. Our office called a toxicologist as an expert
witness. The expert testified that the number of drinks that our
client consumed over that five hour period would not impair his ability
to operate a motor vehicle safely given his weight, the time period
over which he consumed the beverages, his tolerance and the amount of
food he ingested. The expert also made clear to the jury that field
sobriety tests are not as easily performed as you might think. He
analogized this to riding a bicycle or skating for the first time. It
is not that easy to do however with time and practice it is easy to
perfect these tasks. This explains why the police can easily
demonstrate these tests in front of a jury and why even well
coordinated individuals might not perform these well without practice.
As to the half full beer in the pick up truck, our office argued four
points. First, liquor stores must close by law at 11:00 p.m. on
Saturday nights. Since our client had been placed in a bar for five
hours it is unlikely that he made that purchase after leaving that
establishment. Two, even if he had half of that beer when he left the
bar there would not have been enough time for his body to absorb the
alcohol from that point until he was stopped a few minutes later.
Third, the bar admitted to never selling cans of beer. Lastly, we had
evidence that that can of beer had been in the pick-up truck for over
twenty four hours and was not consumed that day by our client. Our
client also testified that he was fine as did his girlfriend who was
with him that night. As to the amount of alcohol consumed, our client
admitted to consuming only four of the six beers at most. He testified
that he danced often that night and that he would set down his beer
when doing so. When he would return from the dance floor he would not
resume drinking the beer if he could not identify which of the
partially full bottles on the bar was his beer.
The jury returned a verdict of acquittal in less than twenty minutes.
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