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Legal prescription drug use can lead to impaired driving charges

When most people think of impaired driving charges, they probably think about alcohol or illegal drugs. The truth is that even the use of legally prescribed medications, taken as directed by a physician, can result in criminal charges in Massachusetts.

The fact that a medicine came from a doctor doesn't mean it can't impair your driving. Quite a few medications, from cough syrups to antidepressants, could impact an individual's ability to safely drive a vehicle.

Cocaine offenses are serious felonies in Massachusetts

Drug crimes are taken very seriously in Massachusetts, and this includes cocaine-related offenses. While the Commonwealth classifies them as felonies, that doesn't mean you can't fight the charges or that you don't have any options regarding the course of your defense.

There are several different kinds of cocaine charges in Massachusetts. Each one has specific penalties associated with it. Besides the type of charge you are facing, other factors can affect what may happen if you are convicted.

Drugged driving is on the increase

Most drivers in Massachusetts are aware of the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol. However, driving after taking prescription medications can also have detrimental effects and lead to serious accidents. This was highlighted this summer after the arrest of Tiger Woods, who was found asleep at the wheel and failed the sobriety tests. It was found that painkiller use, and not alcohol, was the reason for his behavior.

According to Fox, violations related to drug use and driving increased more than 40 percent over the last six years, which far surpassed the increase of drunk driving cases. While marijuana was the culprit in many of the arrests, opiates and other prescription drugs were also factors. 

You need to know how alcohol can impact your body and mind

Many people don't realize how alcohol can affect them. If you plan on heading out to some parties this weekend, take the time to review some of the basics regarding alcohol and your body and mind. This might help you to figure out whether you can safely drive. Getting caught driving drunk would definitely ruin your fun night.

It is critical to understand your personal tolerance for alcohol. Setting smart limits for yourself can keep you out of trouble. 

Different types of field sobriety tests

If a law enforcement official pulls you over and suspects that you are driving while drunk, they may decide to conduct a field sobriety test. In Massachusetts, you are able to refuse to submit to a test, although this may present consequences as well (for example, refusing a breath test could lead to the suspension of your driving privileges). There are different types of field sobriety tests that are conducted, such as standing on one leg, walking heel-to-toe, and a test which involves your horizontal gaze. Failing a field sobriety test can result in harsh penalties, even if you were not under the influence of alcohol.

There are a variety of reasons why you might fail a field sobriety test even if you have not been drinking. For example, you may have poor balance, which could affect your gait, leading to false evidence. It is important to be fully aware of your rights if you are asked to submit to a field sobriety test. For those accused of driving under the influence or refusing to take a breath test, there are various consequences that can make life incredibly hard. Losing your driver's license could interfere with your career, affect your ability to attend college, or have an impact on others in your life (such as children who depend on you for transportation).

Penalties for refusing a breathlyzer test

Drivers in Massachusetts who are stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence will be asked to take a breathalyzer test. While it is possible in the state to refuse it, there are consequences related to saying no.

According to FindLaw, driving is regarded not as a right, but as a privilege. This means that by getting behind the wheel, drivers are giving their assent to take a breathalyzer test. Refusal to do so results in immediate consequences. Depending on the state this can be jail time, license suspension and/or fines. The refusal may also be used against the defendant in a trial situation.

The impact of drunk driving on child custody

We have explored many of the different ways in which those charged with driving under the influence are affected. From the loss of their driving privileges to prison time and costly fines, these charges can certainly make life challenging in different ways. However, drunk driving charges can create additional hardships for people in ways that are often overlooked. For example, drunk driving can spell trouble for those who are in the middle of a custody dispute, or anticipate that they will be going through a dispute over child custody in the near future. In Boston, and other Massachusetts cities, parents in this position need to be prepared.

There are different reasons why drunk driving charges could affect a custody dispute. For example, if the other parent of your child is pursuing sole custody, they may be able to use these charges against you in an attempt to convince the court that such a decision would be in the best interests of the child. Furthermore, courts can look down on a parent who they believe may have a problem with alcohol or driving under the influence. If your spouse is able to obtain sole custody, you may lose your ability to play the role you want to in your child's life, being unable to help with critical decisions.

DUI conviction and global entry refusal

Frequent travelers from Massachusetts who want to apply for Global Entry may be disappointed if they have a DUI on their record. The government is denying applications of people who have had past convictions, even minor ones. 

According to the New York Times, any criminal conviction is considered to be a disqualification, even if it is a juvenile issue that was expunged or sealed. People accepted into the program must be compliant with all regulations and laws, and driving under the influence is one example of what is considered unacceptable.

Heroin addiction comes with serious consequences

The heroin problem has reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the country. For the women and men who are addicted to the drug, getting clean can feels impossible. Addicts also face another hard truth: They will likely become involved in the criminal justice system.

Massachusetts has taken a hard stance against heroin. The law is strict regarding all offenses related to the drug. Here are a few important things you should know about heroin charges.

Reasonable doubt and Massachusetts blood alcohol tests

Although taking a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content may seem like a bad idea for someone in Massachusetts who has had a few drinks, refusing could lead to more trouble. Regardless of BAC levels, though, drivers have rights. According to the instructions the Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides to jurors, one of those is the need for proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was operating the vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher.

Often, the prosecutor provides the results of a blood test as proof. However, there are circumstances that would cast doubt on the validity of this evidence. For example, the test has to be given within a reasonable time frame of the alleged vehicle operation. Although a judge or jury has some discretion, a test administered more than three hours after the fact may not be considered valid. 

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