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Boston OUI/DUI Defense Blog

Your balance issues could cost you your freedom

Before administering a field sobriety test on the side of a Massachusetts roadway, law enforcement officers have to go through training to learn how to correctly administer them. Two of these are the walk-and-turn test and the one-leg stand test. These measure balance, which can be precarious for someone who has a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

According to AAA, an officer may suspect that drivers are under the influence of alcohol if they have to put their arms out to catch their balance while taking heel-to-toe steps, or while standing on one foot and holding the other about six inches off the ground. If a driver also steps off the line in the first test, or puts the foot down in the other, the officer may determine that those two errors are enough reasonable proof that a person is impaired and can be required to take a breath or blood test.

Abnormal brain function could lead to DUI arrest

A Massachusetts law enforcement officer who has reason to believe a driver is impaired may make a traffic stop to evaluate the situation further. If he or she feels there is enough evidence at that point, there may be a field sobriety test, which can assist officers in identifying people who are driving under the influence. According to AAA, over 90 percent of roadside sobriety tests are successful when administered by a properly trained officer. This leaves significant room for error.

When officers require drivers to follow a moving object from side to side with their eyes, alcohol impairment will cause the eyeball to jerk. This movement is known as horizontal gaze nystagmus. While a drunk driver would not be able to maintain a steady gaze and would exhibit this telltale sign of a high blood alcohol content, many people have medical conditions that lead to the same response.

Roadside breath test considerations

A Massachusetts law enforcement officer has several ways to determine whether he or she has probable cause to arrest someone for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. One of these is the breath test, and according to Business Insider, refusing to take this test may not be the best option, even if the driver has had a few drinks. In fact, taking the test may provide a better opportunity for a defense strategy in court.

The Massachusetts Prosecutors’ OUI Manual explains that an officer should perform other roadside sobriety tests before administering the breath test. First, there should be an indication that the driver may be impaired based on the way he or she is driving. Once the vehicle is pulled over, there should be indicators that the person could be under the influence. At that point, the officer may require the driver to undergo the standard roadside sobriety tests.

DUI defense strategies: beyond basic training

Because the U.S. legal system is designed to protect your rights, a Massachusetts law enforcement officer who arrests you for DUI must follow a specific protocol to prevent these from being violated. The slightest deviation from mandatory procedure could lead to an unfair outcome that affects your life permanently. To ensure that he provides clients with skilled, knowledgeable DUI defense strategies, attorney John B. Seed has completed advanced education about techniques for investigating arresting officers in this type of case.

A wide range of authorities may be involved in your case, including those in law enforcement, as well as prosecutors and judges. Mr. Seed’s recent training, which was conducted by the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, included information provided by members of these professions and others who have spent years participating in various aspects of DUI cases. The knowledge they have contributed is not commonly provided in standard education for DUI attorneys. Any attorney who does not receive this instruction is not likely to have the advanced tools necessary to develop a strategy that is relevant to the specifics of your case.

Will my license be suspended for a DUI?

If you who are caught operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Massachusetts, you may face many different fines and punishments. This can include monetary penalties, possible prison time and a permanent criminal record. In addition to these consequences, a common penalty is a license suspension. The length of time that the license can be taken away varies depending on the number of DUI convictions you have.


Auto-brewery syndrome causes alcohol production within the body

Drivers across Massachusetts and the United States who insist they did not consume any alcohol after being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving are often met with skepticism, particularly if they promptly fail breath tests soon thereafter. However, U.S. News & World Report notes that increasingly widespread awareness and knowledge about a rare condition known as auto-brewery syndrome suggests that at least some of those motorists may be telling the truth.

While there is still much to be learned about the condition, one leading Ohio physician who specializes in studying and treating it reports he diagnosed 25 patients with the syndrome within the last four or so years. Essentially, the syndrome causes those affected to produce an overabundance of yeast within their bodies, which can then ferment when mixed with high-carbohydrate foods. The fermentation then leads the sufferer to become drunk, even if he or she consumed no alcohol whatsoever, and this is raising new issues for those responsible for defending and prosecuting suspected drunk drivers.

What is the legal limit in Massachusetts?

If you are charged with drunk driving, you may face a myriad of challenges. For example, you could be unable to drive, which can spell disaster for your career or prevent you from getting to school or taking care of other responsibilities. As a result, it is essential to understand the legal limit and carefully review the details of your circumstances if you find yourself in this position. In Boston, and other Massachusetts cities, drunk driving charges have cost people their careers, upended the lives of entire families and caused many other hardships.

According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, those who are taken into custody over allegations of driving while under the influence are required to take a breath test. For drivers who are over the age of 21, the legal limit is 0.08. However, the legal limit is significantly lower for drivers who are under the age of 21. If you have not yet turned 21, you may have your driver's license suspended if your blood alcohol content level is 0.02 or greater.

Boating under the influence? That's a crime too.

Not everyone has unfettered ocean access quite like Bay Staters do. With its roots in fishing, whaling and crabbing our state has a rich history on the water. But, with access and tradition come responsibility and care. All states have laws that criminalize drinking and driving. Likewise, all states and the federal government have laws that prohibit Boating Under the Influence (BUI).

As coastal residents, we have the duty to understand BUI laws to keep ourselves and others safe on the water. You can be apprehended for BUI by state or federal authorities while on the water. Just like driving under the influence, a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 can result in charges of BUI. First time BUI offenders in the state of Massachusetts can face criminal penalties up to a $1,000 fine and 30 months in prison.

Consequences for refusing a breathalyzer test

When people get pulled over or are otherwise contained by law enforcement for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, they will usually be asked to take a breathalyzer test. While they have the right to refuse to take this test, they may face consequences of doing this. According to the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, an officer may impound the vehicle and immediately suspend the driver’s license if a person refuses to submit to the test.

The Town of Boylston outlines the penalties in Massachusetts for refusing a test based on previous drunk driving convictions. If a person has never had an issue before, then he or she will face a 180-day license suspension for refusing to take the test. One or two previous convictions will result in three or five years suspension, respectively. For those who have been a serious repeat offender with three or more convictions, not submitting to a breathalyzer results in a lifetime suspension of their driver’s licenses. The penalties are even stiffer for someone who holds a commercial driver’s license. The first refusal results in a one-year suspension, and a lifetime suspension is what comes with any addition refusals.

Drunken driving rate at a new national low

We hear it time and time again - drink and drive and you will get caught. As it turns out, people might be listening to that message. Rates of drunken driving reached a new national low as of 2014, according to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Just 11.1 percent of drivers admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol in 2014, the most recent year for which there is data. This number is down from 15.3 percent when the survey began in 2002. The study relies on self-reported data so the number could be higher than that. Surveyors admit that people may have differing perceptions of what "intoxication" feels like to them and others may be wary to self-report.

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