On Thursday, September 10, 2008 the Salem News reported that an Amesbury woman was charged with drunk driving in the Salem District Court. Read full article. According to the report, the defendant, 52 year old Suzanne Sherman was seen driving her Mercedes northbound in the southbound lane of Route 1 in Danvers. A state trooper responding to the scene found the defendant in her vehicle, stopped in the roadway. The defendant subsequently drove her car into the parking lot of a nearby restaurant. Sherman told the officer that she was going from Newburyport to Amesbury. This made no sense geographically. Sherman further admitted to having some drinks and making illegal U-Turns on Route 1. At booking Sherman asked to call the Salisbury, Massachusetts Police Chief whom she claimed to be a good friend. She was charged with OUI, a second offense and possession of a class E substance. Sherman also refused the breathalyzer test.
In Massachusetts a drunk driving case is commonly referred to as an OUI (operating under the influence). Penalties for convictions of OUI vary depending on several factors. If you have prior OUI convictions your penalties can be severe. If someone is injured or if there is an accident as a result of you operating under the influence judges will often increase your sentence if you are convicted.
The current drunk driving statute in Massachusetts is commonly known as Melanie’s Law. It was passed in 2005 and its purpose was to increase the penalties for OUI offenders in Massachusetts. The law itself has some interesting components that were designed to get first time offenders to plead guilty rather than try to win the case at trial. For example, if you fail to take a breathalyzer test the law mandates a 180 day loss of license. Many Massachusetts court calendars do not permit you to get your case tried within 180 days due to volume and backlog. However, if this is your first offense and you plead guilty you will be eligible for a “hardship” license almost immediately. Nowadays, many police officers who stop suspected drunk drivers tell them about this aspect of the law in hopes that they will take the breathalyzer test. The police will tell you that if you pass the test; i.e. blow less than a .08 you will be free to go. If you fail the test you face an immediate 30 day loss of license rather than the 180 day loss of license imposed if you refuse the test. Keep in mind that even blowing less than a .08 can subject you to prosecution for OUI in some cases.
Stephen Neyman is a Massachusetts drunk driving defense lawyer who successfully defends drunk driving on a regular basis. He recently tried a fourth offense drunk driving case in Plymouth County that resulted in a mistrial after it was learned that a court officer had improperly tampered with the jury. Drunk driving cases are a staple of most criminal defense lawyers’ practices in Massachusetts. Even if you have “failed” the breathalyzer test you might have a very defensible case.
In Ms. Sherman’s case several factors weigh heavily against her chances of success at trial. Driving the wrong way down a major state highway is the first. Telling the police that she was going from Newburyport to Amesbury when she was going in the entirely wrong direction is a second. Stopping on a state highway is the third. Aggressive behavior during booking is a fourth. Admitting to drinking is the fifth. Possessing prescription drugs without a prescription is the sixth. Keep in mind however that there is much more to these stories than a simple newspaper account.
If you have been charged with an OUI in the Salem District Court call Salem Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer Stephen Neyman now.