Articles Posted in DUI/OUI investigations

Expertise.com looked at 289 OUI (Operating Under the Influence) lawyers in Boston and hand selected Urbelis Law as one of the very best. The goal of expertise.com is to connect people with the best local experts. They analyzed and scored Boston DUI attorneys on 25 variables across 6 categories, including reputation, credibility and experience. Urbelis Law ranked in the top 20 out of nearly 300 Boston lawyers. Our firm takes tremendous pride in the work that we do and always provides zealous advocacy tailored to each individual client.

See the expertise.com article here: https://www.expertise.com/ma/boston/dui-attorney

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We are not even halfway through 2015, but Urbelis Law has already had a very busy, and productive year with great results for our clients! Below is a list of cases that resolved very favorably for our clients since January 1st of 2015. We look forward to continuing to achieve such results for the remainder of the year and beyond!

TRIAL VERDICTS

FEDERAL CHARGES: Client was a middle school teacher with the 3 lead charges of the indictment carrying a MANDATORY MINIMUM sentence of 15 years in federal prison, each. There is no parole in federal cases. Client was also charged with two lesser included offenses as well.

On December 7, 2013 police arrested 32-year-old Mauricio Velasquez of Springfield for motor vehicle homicide, operating under the influence, and other crimes after being involved in a head-on crash in Easthampton, MA that left 2 dead and 3 injured. The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office has identified the man and young girl killed in the head-on crash as 71-year-old Charles Hoffman of Easthampton and a 3-year-old girl that is believed to be Velasquez’s daughter.

Officials say Hoffman’s pickup was struck by an oncoming van that crossed the center line while being driven by Velasquez. A woman riding with Hoffman, a second passenger in Velasquez’s van, as well as Velasquez himself were all seriously injured. Velasquez is currently being detained on $50,000 bail and it is not yet clear if he has a lawyer.

Though it may seem that this is a strong case against Velasquez, there are many factors that must be examined. In order to fight this case, Velasquez’s best bet is to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney who will look into the validity of the evidence gathered against him. For example, the Commonwealth must not only prove that a life was lost because of the accident but also that Velasquez caused the accident. In this case, it is clear that two lives were lost because of the accident but it is not clear that Velasquez was the cause of it. There are many things that could have happened to cause Velasquez’s vehicle to hit Hoffman’s vehicle. A skilled criminal defense attorney would have to take time to gather evidence in a number of ways such as: accident reconstruction, crime scene investigation, and witness interviews in order to protect Velasquez’s rights to the fullest extent. All these factors play a huge part in whether or not Velasquez can be convicted of Motor Vehicle Homicide.

Recently, John Basler, a 25-year-old Massachusetts state trooper, was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of two women from Carver, Massachusetts. Basler is set to face a judge and be arraigned today in Plymouth District Court on OUI charges as well as charges for improper storage of a firearm.

According to investigating police, Basler’s blood-alcohol level was over twice the legal limit to drive in Massachusetts on Sept. 22, 2013 when his vehicle was involved in a head-on collision in Plymouth during the early morning hours. The other vehicle was being driven by 64-year-old Susan Macchi, with her 23-year old daughter Juliet Macchi in the passenger seat. Both women died as a result of the fatal accident.

In general, law enforcement officers are held to a higher standard than the average person. Basler was trained and educated on the serious dangers involved in drunk driving and still chose to do so. As a result of these charges, Basler was put on unpaid suspension pending the outcome of this case and it is likely he will face much more severe consequences if he is convicted of OUI-manslaughter.

A few days ago, 57 year old Michael Sheehan was arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol and trespassing after he drove past two large signs that read “Do Not Enter” and “Police Personnel Only” on the wrong lane of a driveway, straight into a police parking lot. He failed all field sobriety tests and was WALKED right into the station.

While this may seem like an open and shut case, it isn’t necessarily that simple. In order to be found guilty of operating under the influence of alcohol in Massachusetts, the prosecution must prove 3 elements beyond all reasonable doubt: 1) The person operated a motor vehicle; 2) while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; 3) on a public way.

Based on this report alone, while Mr. Sheehan may very well have been operating under the influence of alcohol, there is no evidence that anyone saw him do so while on a public way. For purposes of this offense, a public way is defined as any public road or highway, or any place to which the public has a right of access, or any place to which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees. The fact that Sheehan was also charged with trespassing is strong evidence that this area was not a public way, as it permits access to “police personnel only.” In order to establish that Mr. Sheehan did, in fact, operate his motor vehicle on a public way at some point while under the influence of alcohol, the prosecution may offer evidence in the form of witnesses or surveillance video of Sheehan entering the parking lot from a public way. If Mr. Sheehan was simply found in the parking lot, and there is no timetable to establish when he arrived there, it would be very difficult to prove guilt. Reasonable doubt could be established by the fact that perhaps Mr. Sheehan had simply been lost and ended up in the parking lot. If he was idle in his car for, say, an hour, then it would be difficult to prove he was intoxicated at the time he was operating on a public way- because there is no way to determine when that might have been without any corroborating witnesses. In the absence of a clear time frame as to when he arrived at the station, I would likely advise Mr. Sheehan to fight the charge of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol.

From now until January 1, more than 50 local law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts, along with the State Police, will beef up their enforcement of Massachusetts drunk driving laws. The enhanced patrol will be paid for by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as part of a program called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

Please be careful this holiday season. If you are going to drink, please do so responsibly. In Massachusetts, the penalties for operating under the influence, even a first offense, are very, very costly. A conviction WILL affect you for the rest of your life.

If you have been arrested for operating under the influence, or any other criminal offense in Massachusetts, contact my office immediately:

As a Massachusetts dui/oui defense attorney, the most common question I hear is:

Should I take the breath test?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. If you take and fail the breath test (a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher), your license will be suspended for 30 days. At the police station, you are informed that refusing to take the breath test will result in an automatic license suspension of 6 months if this is your first offense (or 3 years if under 21 years old), 3 years if this is your second offense, 5 years if this is your third offense, and a lifetime loss of license if this is your fourth offense. The longer license suspension may encourage you to submit to the breathalyzer, which is the intent behind the law. However, what the police do not tell you, is that without a failed breath test to use against you in court, the prosecution might have a very tough time proving that you were actually impaired by alcohol.

According to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Merit Rating Board, the conviction rate for Operating Under the Influence from 2006- 2009 was 49%. To the average person who learns this statistic, and apparently to Northboro Police Chief Mark Leahy, this might suggest that the Commonwealth has been unsuccessful in prosecuting drunk driving cases. However, this number indicates that the vast majority of people who are arrested for drunk driving eventually face significant penalties, even for a first offense. The 49% conviction rate does not include thousands of defendants whose attorneys were able to work out a deal with the prosecution to avoid the uncertainty of a trial. For most first-offenders, experienced defense attorneys are able to negotiate a Continuance Without a Finding, where the defendant admits that if the case went to trial there would be enough evidence for him/her to be found guilty, and in exchange for such an an admission, the case will be dismissed without a “Guilty” finding after the period of one year, so long as the defendant successfully completes the terms of probation. While the defendant’s record is spared a criminal conviction, he/she is far from being let off the hook. The terms of probation generally include $600 in statutory court fines and fees, $65/month probation supervision fee ($780 for the year), a 16 class alcohol education program at the cost of $567.22, a 45-90 day license loss with $500 reinstatement fee, and travel restrictions which prohibit the defendant from leaving the state for the entire year of probation (although a skilled defense attorney may be able to limit this restriction). Additionally, the dismissal is a misnomer. While successful completion of probation might technically result in a “dismissal”, it still counts as the defendant’s first-offense in both the criminal justice system AND with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. In other words, if the person is ever arrested again for an OUI, they will be charged with a second offense, facing much more severe criminal penalties and license loss consequences. Finally, a Continuance Without a Finding for a first-offense operating under the influence charge will also add five points to the driver’s insurance rate, likely increasing the annual premium by thousands of dollars. A defendant who is found “Guilty” of a first-offense generally faces these exact same consequences and penalties. Practically speaking, the only difference between a “Guilty” verdict and dismissal after a successful plea negotiation is the wording, and the defendant’s ability to truthfully say on any job/school/financing or other application that he/she has never been “convicted” of a crime, although a Continuance Without a Finding will still show up on any full background check. So while people such as Mark Leahy may feel “frustrated” that most people arrested for operating under the influence avoid conviction, the truth is that most do face significant penalties and life-altering consequences that serve as a deterrent to drunk driving.
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If I told you that OUI/DUI/DWI arrests dropped nearly 17% from 2008 to 2010, you would probably think that tighter law enforcement, sobriety checkpoints, and increased public awareness has yielded positive results. Well, the total number of drunk-driving arrests has decreased by 17% over that two-year period, but the most significant reason for the drop is an unfortunate one. Since 2006, the number for State Troopers patrolling our Massachusetts highways has decreased by 20%. Prior to these budget cuts, studies showed that less than 0.2% of impaired drivers are apprehended on any given night. So while the number DUI/DWI/OUI arrests in Massachusetts suggests a positive turnaround, the slashed police budget has left our highways, where most OUI investigations are initiated, with even more impaired drivers who will not be apprehended.
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As a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney specializing in drunk driving defense, I am well-aware of the need for strong enforcement of our OUI laws. Melanie’s Law was a monumental step in tightening the laws for repeat offenders, and I generally agree with most of what was passed within that legislation.

I recently read a Boston Globe article, and then watched a similar segment on “World News Tonight”, on new technology that will be able to detect alcohol on the operator’s breath, or even on his or her skin. The concept of this technology would be remarkable. It would, in effect, operate the same way as the interlock ignition device that repeat drunk driving offenders are now required to install in their vehicles, but it would avoid the blatant “breath test” that may cause inconvenience and embarrassment.

While the concept is well-intentioned, its implementation would be a nightmare.
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