Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol (Second Offense)
Police in Berkeley Massachusetts charged a man with his second offense for operating under the influence (OUI) of alcohol. A patrol officer approached a vehicle that was parked in the middle of the road with its door open while both the male driver and female passenger were sitting inside. As the officer exited his cruiser and began to approach the vehicle on foot, the occupants closed the doors and the vehicle moved forward. The officer yelled for the vehicle to “stop.” The driver then moved the vehicle off the road where he brought it to a stop. The officer then proceeded with his investigation. During his interactions with the driver, he observed bloodshot eyes and detected a strong odor of alcohol emanating from this person and vehicle. The officer asked the driver for his license and registration. Though the driver eventually produced these items, in so doing, he dropped a number of items from his wallet into his lap, accidentally activated the radio and appeared to be confused. Upon inquiry by the officer, the man admitted that he had been drinking alcohol and was headed home from a party. This prompted the officer to administer to the man a series of field sobriety tests, all of which he allegedly failed. The officer also administered to the driver a preliminary breath test (PBT), which revealed his blood alcohol content (BAC) at .182, which was more than twice the legal limit. Based on the totality of the circumstances, the officer placed the driver under arrest and charged him in Taunton District Court with OUI (2nd Offense). The man retained Massachusetts OUI and Criminal Defense Attorney, John L. Calcagni III and his team, to defend him in this matter. The man elected his right to proceed to trial by a jury of six members.
At trial, the Defense successfully filed a motion to prevent the prosecution from using the PBT as evidence. When the trial began, the Commonwealth called a single witness – the arresting officer. Under cross-examination, the officer admitted that the driver and his girlfriend appeared to be in a fight upon his arrival, which explained the bloodshot eyes he observed. The officer also admitted that the man informed him of a health condition that inhibited his ability to participate in the roadside field sobriety tests. Lastly, the officer admitted that he did not make any observation regarding the operation of the vehicle that indicated the man was sufficiently impaired that he was unable to safely drive. These points were emphasized during closing arguments. After an hour of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.