Juan Fernandez of Lynn, Massachusetts was arraigned in the Attleboro District Court after being charged with drunk driving (DUI), leaving the scene of an accident, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and operating to endanger. All of this stems from a collision last Saturday morning involving Fernandez and a Massachusetts Police Officer. Apparently, at 4:50 in the morning Fernandez was driving the wrong way on Interstate 95 near Route 123. His car struck a police cruiser who was attempting to stop him from operating in the wrong direction. It was reported that Fernandez was so drunk that when questioned by police he did not know where he was.
Massachusetts district attorneys look at drunk driving in two contexts. One is based on the police officer’s observations of the defendant at the time he or she is stopped. The officer considers the manner of operation of the vehicle, the suspect’s physical appearance, the odor of alcohol, physical behavior and the performance of field sobriety tests. These subjective criteria help the police form opinions as to sobriety or impairment. The second context in which prosecutors look at drunk driving cases involves an “illegal per se” operation of a motor vehicle. Massachusetts and all other states have adopted a rule that anyone operating with a blood alcohol of .08 percent or higher is guilty of drunk driving. There is an overlap between an officer’s observations and the illegal per se view of this crime.
Many drunk driving cases are defensible. Police officers’ subjective opinions are often countered by reasonable explanations for certain behavior. For instance, officers typically use the expression “unsteady on his feet” to support their opinion that someone was intoxicated. Many times however the defendant will have a physical defect or problem that causes a certain gait. Another common phrase used by the police at trial is “slurred speech”. This can be explained by certain impediments or accents particular to the suspect. Unless the officer knows the person he has no way of knowing if the speech pattern is the effect of alcohol or the individual’s particular speech pattern.
Stephen Neyman has been defending drunk driving cases for over 20 years. We understand how the breathalyzer machines in Massachusetts work and where the flaws in that equipment lie. When necessary we engage the best experts to help prove our clients’ innocence. If you need to discuss your DUI or OUI case with an experienced Massachusetts drunk driving defense lawyer call our office now at 617-263-6800 or contact us online.