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Boston OUI/DUI Defense Blog

Do you understand the Standardized Field Sobriety Test?

As a driver, you know you should never drink alcohol and then get behind the wheel of your vehicle. Even though you understand the dangers of this decision, it's not out of the question that you could be pulled over by law enforcement officers who think you might have been driving drunk.

If an officer pulls you over for suspicion of driving under the influence, it's important to understand what will come next.

Can I get my criminal records sealed for a DUI charge?

Considering how often things such as background checks and criminal records can impact your eligibility for employment, housing, credit and other major life factors, it is understandable that you are concerned about a DUI charge on your record, whether it was dismissed or convicted. Massachusetts offers the opportunity to petition to have your criminal records sealed, but is that available for a charge for driving under the influence?

The option to petition is available, yes. Whether or not the courts grant your petition is handled on a case-by-case basis. For DUI convictions, you may have earned a misdemeanor or felony charge depending on if it was your first offense or a repeated offense. Per Mass.gov, you may petition to have your criminal record sealed 5 years after conviction for a misdemeanor, or five years after any prison time served, assuming no additional offenses. For felony charges, you may petition after 10 years. This includes misdemeanor DUI charges and felony DUI charges.

What happens when minors fail breath tests?

When someone is pulled over by a law enforcement official and asked to take a breath test, the experience can be nerve-wracking. Many people worry about the consequences that may come with failing a breath test, and whether or not they are over the legal limit. Moreover, there are times when people may be especially concerned about the consequences of failing a breath test, such as a driver who is under the age of 21 years old. When it comes to underage DUI charges, carefully handling the situation is pivotal.

According to the State of Massachusetts, drivers who are under 21 years of age and are determined to have a blood alcohol content level of 0.02 or higher are considered to have been driving under the influence. For younger drivers, this can be an especially difficult position to be in since the legal limit is so much lower in comparison to drivers who are 21 or older. In Massachusetts, young drivers under 21 will have their license or learner's permit taken by an arresting officer. Moreover, drivers will be given a written notification that their license has been suspended and their driving privileges will be revoked for 30 days. Young drivers who wish to appeal the suspension may do so in district court.

Criminal defense strategies can take different forms

Criminal defendants count on their attorneys to help them find ways to fight the charges they are facing. This isn't always an easy feat, but there are some common strategies that attorneys use when they develop a defense for their clients.

It is important to realize that while similar cases may have things in common, no two criminal cases are exactly alike. Each case should be reviewed carefully by an experienced lawyer. Here are some tactics that criminal defense attorneys might use when they are fighting for their clients:

Ignition interlock device: Key to freedom or major restriction?

Some individuals who are convicted of drunk driving in Massachusetts might be required to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. This device is meant to prevent a driver from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, again, which could help to save lives.

There are several things that drivers need to know if they are ordered by the court to install these devices. This program is very structured, so any missteps can lead to serious legal issues. Here are a few things to remember if you or someone you know is in the ignition interlock program.

Can you refuse to identify yourself during a DUI stop?

One moment of inattention behind the wheel can lead a Massachusetts police officer to believe you are driving under the influence and weaving unsafely. When the officer pulls you over to determine your sobriety, you may be within your rights to be frustrated and angry, but what happens if you act on that frustration and anger by refusing to comply with the officer's requests? You may be legally allowed to refuse a breathalyzer with penalties, but what if you refuse to identify yourself at all?

This may seem like a way to protest or avoid culpability, but Massachusetts legislature defines this as refusal to submit to a police officer - and it comes with penalties. Different from resisting arrest, refusing to submit to a police officer involves refusing to provide your name, contact information and registration or that of the owner of the vehicle should you be pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving or for any other traffic violation. It also includes refusal to stop, either in a vehicle or on foot, when a police officer who is clearly identified as a police officer signals you to do so.

What happens if you skip your DUI court hearing?

It finally happened. You were driving under the influence, and you got caught. Maybe you were weaving; maybe you even crashed. But your license has been suspended, you've got a mark on your record, and you've been ordered to appear in Massachusetts court for your DUI hearing. You may be thinking you can just skip the hearing; you already took the mark to your record, and now that you've been let out of the drunk tank you do not see much point in attending a hearing to confirm what you already know. So why not just skip it?

Because you may face much more severe penalties for failure to appear. If you are arrested for a DUI and let out on bail or on your own recognizance, per Mass.gov you could face massive fines and jail time for failure to or refusal to appear in court to face your DUI sentencing. Those who do not attend court when ordered can see from one to five years in prison added to sentencing depending on if the DUI is classed as a misdemeanor or a felony. Fines can range from $10,000 to $50,000.

Can your license be suspended for an out-of-state DUI?

Whether you are out of state visiting relatives, on vacation or on business, it can be tempting to get a little tipsy and risk the drive when you are not dealing with your home state's laws or state police. If you are pulled over for driving under the influence, you think it may not matter if your license is suspended or revoked in that state because your license was issued in Massachusetts. But what happens when you get back to Massachusetts and find you still cannot drive?

That is correct - Massachusetts law regarding out-of-state suspension and revocation requires that your license remain indefinitely suspended until you resolve the issue in the state where you received the citation. Any infractions are reported to the National Driver Register, meaning that your tickets in Texas end up on your record in the Massachusetts RMV. The state of Massachusetts gives you 30 days to resolve the issue, during which time your license is suspended and cannot be reinstated until you attain reinstatement in the state where you received the citation.

Can your eyes prove you are drunk?

Sometimes when you are stopped by law enforcement officers in Massachusetts, you may be asked to perform field sobriety tests. While you may be familiar with tests that require standing on one leg and walking and turning, you may not have heard about the horizontal gaze nystagmus.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is one way that law enforcement officers can determine if you might be inebriated. FindLaw says this is because this test considers involuntary eye movements. When you look to one side, sometimes your eyes automatically jerk. If you have been drinking, this jerking may sometimes be more pronounced. You usually do not realize that your eye is moving more because this phenomenon typically does not affect your vision. This eye jerking can occur because alcohol sometimes affects the way your nervous system manages eye movements.

Two kinds of pretrial resolutions to your criminal matter

People who have never been involved with the criminal justice system are often amazed when they discover how complicated it is. When they find themselves in trouble for the first time, they may be pleasantly surprised at the options available to them. Sometimes, a defendant can get their case resolved before it goes to trial.

There are two primary ways in which these pretrial resolutions can occur. One is a pretrial diversion, and the other is a deferred adjudication. While these might seem similar at first glance, they are very different. You will need to evaluate the suitability of each one in your case if both are offered.

There is no time to waste. Let us begin building a strong defense for you now.

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