The Lawrence Eagle Tribune reports that a Marblehead man, Richard Burke, faces charges of a second offense operating under the influence of alcohol, driving an uninsured motor vehicle, driving after his license was suspended and related motor vehicle charges in the Salem District Court. The charges stem from a collision that his car had with a minivan on Sunday during the early afternoon. Apparently, the two car accident left the defendant and two others in the hospital. Unfortunately for Burke, these new charges have been lodged while he was released on bail for another drunk driving case in the Woburn District Court. For that reason the judge ordered that he be held for up to sixty days without the possibility of posting bail and/or until the case is resolved. Although the defense attorney argued that there were other conditions including alcohol monitoring and a curfew that cold be imposed short of incarceration, the Salem District Court Judge did not go for it. It was represented that the defendant has a previous “continuance without a finding” on a previous operating under the influence from 2005.
According to reports, the car driven by the defendant traveled into the path of the minivan and hit it head on. Police officers and an EMT indicated that they smelled an odor of alcohol from the defendant. The defendant did not submit to a blood alcohol test at the hospital.
According to the Tribune, the defendant’s first case was “continued without a finding.” A “continuance without a finding” means that a defendant admitted to sufficient facts but the judge did not find him or her guilty. In many of these situations, the judge continues the case for one year and orders that a defendant enter and complete and “ASAP” alcohol program, pay court fees and not get rearrested. In the event these conditions are satisfied the case is dismissed. The benefit of this type of disposition is that a defendant can state that he or she has not been convicted of a crime. In situations in which a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty by a jury, that is considered a criminal conviction. However, it is important to understand that even a continuance without a finding on the charge of operating under the influence of alcohol counts as a first offense, even though it is not considered a conviction. Therefore, if a defendant is arrested for operating under the influence or drunk driving after receiving a continuance without a finding, it will be considered a second offense.
The Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a reasonable to secure a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol. The prosecutor must prove that a defendant was driving a motor vehicle on public way and was under the influence of alcohol. In order to prove “operation” it is not necessary for the government to prove that a person was driving a car down the street in the traditional sense. Simply having a key in the ignition is sufficient in many cases. A public was is a way in which the public has a right to access. For example, a mall parking lot or a restaurant parking lot is usually considered a “public way” even though they may technically be “private property.” They are considered “public” because the public has the RIGHT to access the area. However, a driveway or private property like a private access road is not considered a public way. The most litigated area is the “under the influence” element of the crime. The Commonwealth is not required to prove that the defendant was “drunk.” The prosecutor must however prove that the defendant’s ability to safely drive a motor vehicle was impaired from alcohol.
Our Attorney has been specializing in criminal law for over twenty years. She has secured not guilty verdicts for clients charged with operating under the influence of alcohol. She defends individuals accused of crimes in various Massachusetts District Courts including Peabody, Lawrence and Lowell. If you or a family member has been charged with operating under the influence of alcohol call Our Attorney and she will get to work on your case immediately.