Massachusetts police allege that a thirty seven year old man was under the influence when he lost control of the snowmobile he was driving causing it to crash into rocks, killing his passenger. Chris Corriveau is now charged with operating under the influence of alcohol (OUI) and motor vehicle homicide. The victim, a thirty six year old woman died at the scene.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 1 defines motor vehicles in Massachusetts. The law states that any vehicle made for propulsion by power is a motor vehicle. Motorized bicycles are not motor vehicles however in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 1B anyone operating a motorized bicycle is subject to the laws of the road and can be prosecuted for DUI. In Massachusetts motorcycles are motor vehicles as are golf carts, mobile homes, tractors and mobile construction cranes. While arguably a snowmobile may be considered a motor vehicle, in this case there is an issue as to whether the vehicle was operated on a public way. Public way is an element that the district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt before someone can be convicted of OUI or motor vehicle homicide.
The issue of impairment can also be attacked in any alcohol related driving case. Field sobriety tests are subjective and vulnerable to attack on cross-examination. People would be amazed at how many times police officers demonstrating these tests in court stumble or inadequately perform the very tests that they administered in the field to the defendant. Breathalyzer tests are subject to the same scrutiny as are any other machines. Think about how many times you drove past one of those stationary police radar signs that tell you how fast you are driving. Rarely do they reflect the same speed registered on your speedometer. The speeds often vary by 5 or 6 miles per hour. What does this tell you? Either the police radar is inaccurate or your speedometer is inaccurate. Why does this happen? Because these are machines and they are fallible.