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Boston OUI/DUI Defense Blog

What are typical field sobriety tests?

If you are pulled over because a Massachusetts law enforcement officer suspects you of drunk driving, the officer may require you to undergo a number of field sobriety tests to determine if your level of intoxication is apparent enough to warrant a breathalyzer or potential arrest for driving under the influence. But what are field sobriety tests, and what do typical ones entail?

The latest edition of the Massachusetts standard field test sobriety manual lists three common field tests used. The first is the HGN, or horizontal gaze nystagmus. The term "nystagmus" refers to a jitter that occurs in the eyes when looking to one side, and can be an indicator of the effects of alcohol on the central nervous system. According to the manual, distinct nystagmus and lack of smooth pursuit can both cause test failure on presumed grounds of intoxication. You may be more familiar with this as the pen test, in which an officer moves a pen slowly from side to side and asks you to follow it with your eyes while they monitor your eye movement.

Driving under the influence of (any) drugs can get you arrested

Everyone knows that drinking and driving can result in a DUI/OWI if you are “over the limit.” But you may be less sure about driving under the influence of drugs. How do they measure “drugged driving”? How do they know if it was a legal or illegal substance?

Any drugs in your system – even prescription medications – can result in criminal charges. It’s not so much about illegal drugs as whether the driver’s judgment and ability to operate a vehicle are impaired. The penalties are the same as for a drunk driving conviction.

You can't fool the DUI breath test: Don't fall for the myths

A person pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving might be asked to take a breath test to determine what their blood alcohol concentration percentage is. The results can determine whether they will face criminal charges or license suspension for drunk driving.

Many myths seem to continually circulate about “how to beat a Breathalyzer.” While these sound plausible in theory, they aren't effective. Trying to beat the breath test with any of these pseudo-scientific methods will almost certainly lead to failure. Read on to separate fact from fiction.

How a drunk driving conviction can affect your career

A drunk driving conviction can affect many areas of your life. Your career is one of these areas. Of course, the best way to keep a drunk driving conviction from harming your career is to simply avoid getting the charge in the first place. But if you do find yourself facing a drunk driving charge, you need to plan your defense carefully.

There are several ways that you might notice a drunk driving conviction adversely impacting your job. Here are a few of them.

Can you legally refuse a breath test in Massachusetts?

You may be tempted to try to sneak under the radar when driving under the influence on Massachusetts streets and highways. But when the inevitable happens and you are pulled over by the police for behavior indicative of drunken driving, you may feel, under implied consent standards, as though you have no choice but to submit to the breathalyzer test administered by the attending officer. This, in fact, is not true and you may have options other than taking a standard breath test.

Under Massachusetts law, you have the legal right to refuse the breathalyzer test. As stated by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety, an officer must inform you of your rights and the consequences of refusing the breath test. After being provided this information, you have the right to decline the breathalyzer. If you refuse, the officer cannot administer the breath test and must desist all attempts to conduct the test immediately.

What to expect at a DUI checkpoint

If you live in or around the Boston area, you know that DUI checkpoints have a way of popping up every now and again.

As nerve-wracking as it can be to drive through one of these, especially if you have been drinking, knowledge of what will happen can go a long way in keeping you safe and allowing you to pass through unscathed.

Understanding criteria for a hardship license in Massachusetts

If your license has been suspended by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles for driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances, you may find yourself struggling to keep your job or maintain any sort of gainful employment if your employment requires being able to transport yourself to and from work, job sites or other key locations. At John B. Seed, Attorney we take pride in supporting you in resolving your DUI to ensure that you are able to maintain your quality of life and work via an application for a hardship license.

A hardship license allows you to drive for court-ordered periods on established days of the week, and for limited purposes related to your job. In order to attain a hardship license, you must submit an application and meet the requirements listed on the Mass.gov website, then attend a hearing with the appropriate documentation in hand. The requirements vary based on whether this is your first DUI offense, if you are a multiple offender, or if you have been suspended for drug abuse. There are also license criteria for those who have been suspended for "habitual traffic offenses."

Are DWIs felonies or misdemeanors in Massachusetts?

The first thing you think of on getting a DWI charge in Massachusetts is how it will look on your record, and whether or not it will impact your future when it comes to ability to drive, employability, and legal rights. The last thing you want is a felony that could impact your record for the rest of your life over a single bad decision. So if you are convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI), what type of charge can you expect to face?

The answer depends on whether or not this DWI is your first offense. MADD.org reports that in Massachusetts, your third DWI conviction will upgrade from a misdemeanor conviction to a felony conviction. That means you must have two prior misdemeanor convictions for DWI before your sentencing changes, carrying with it a harsher penalty and more damaging effects on your criminal record. Massachusetts is one of twenty-two states that upgrades from misdemeanor to felony on the third offense, though many of the other states have qualifiers such as length of time since previous offense. Massachusetts has no such qualifiers.

DUI questions: Learn about the Standardized Field Sobriety Test

Being pulled over for suspicion of DUI is sure to make your stomach churn. Even if you know you only had one drink, a traffic stop is still enough to make anyone nervous.

It's important to understand the elements of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test, since the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) endorses it. It consists of three distinct tests. When these tests are used together, it is believed that they can indicate alcohol impairment 91 percent of the time.

Opioids and OUI

Drivers in Massachusetts who are taking pain medications need to know their use negatively affects the ability to drive. Just as drivers can be arrested for driving under the effects of alcohol, they can also be liable for driving when taking opioids, whether it is a prescription or not.

According to FindLaw the negative effects of opioids, such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Heroin, include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Disconnectedness
  • Diminished reflexes
  • Mental clouding
  • Nausea and vomiting 

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

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