Archive for the ‘Mass Driving Law’ category

Possession of a Fake ID – Loss Of License in Massachusetts

January 23, 2013

Every year students will find a way to get their hands on a fake ID that they can use to buy alcohol or gain access to the local nightclub or bar.  Every year the police ramp themselves up in college towns across America to find these students and charge them with Being a Minor Purchasing Alcohol and will confiscate these IDs when they make the arrest.   Others will find themselves in bars when the police enter to check IDs.  Then the problems begin. 

The wise student has in his or her possession a fake ID which actually belongs to someone else and has another picture and someone elses information on it.  They will explain to the police that they do have an id (show the correct ID to the police believe me) and they also have “found” or are in possession of someone else’s ID because they intend on returning it or some version thereof.  In my previous life as a Boston Police Officer I can assure you I have heard every variation and I can equally assure you that the local police have also.

However there are now places where those that are under 21 will go and get their own picture on an out of state license with their own information but a, somehow, mistaken birthdate that makes them 21 years of age.  These licenses, or fake IDs, will serve their purpose until such time as the police take a look at it and then you will face charges but with less of a defense in court that you were “holding it for someone else who lost it”.  

The punishment in Massachusetts is a $300 fine which most students mistakenly pay and walk out of court without mom and dad knowing anything.  The problem is that you now have a criminal record and the court will then notify the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles which will promptly send notice to your home that your Massachusetts Driver’s License is being suspended for 18o days!  Now that’s a problem to most students and others under 21 (and their parents).

Here’s the advice:

1.  Don’t have a fake ID.

2.  Assuming no one listened to #1 above then, if and when, you are arrested or summonsed to court be SMART and have an attorney with you THE FIRST TRIP TO THE COURTHOUSE to try to stop the process at the initial hearing with a fine, community service and an alcohol program (mandated by courts sorry) and head the problem off before they send notice to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.   Be aware that some police departments have policies that mandate that the officer transmit the information to the Registry when they arrest you. 

3.  If you have already been notified that your license is to be suspended then contact an attorney to appeal the ruling as you ARE ELIGIBLE TO GET A “CINDERELLA LICENSE” that will allow you to drive for twelve hours a day. 

Contact us at 617-328-6900 and we can assist you to try and prevent a criminal record and the ensuing loss of license.  We can also assist you at the Registry Hearing where the Board will decide whether you meet the requirements for a twelve hour license.  You are NOT entitled to a twelve hour license and that is where an experienced attorney can help make sure you get one granted to you.   For more information check out our website at www.rsweeneylaw.com .  Also feel free to email me at rsweeney@rsweeneylaw.com

Having the fake ID was your first mistake, using it was your second, not getting an experienced attorney involved as soon as possible will be your third.  Let us, or the attorney of your choice, help you.

What Happens If You Get Arrested in Massachusetts

January 17, 2013

I was just arrested now what?

First, invoke your right to remain silent.  Shut up.  Do not give any confessions.  Do not give any statements.  Do not sign anything that even remotely smells like a statement or admission.  You have a constitutional right not to make a statement to the police.

Second, demand to speak to your lawyer, immediately.  You have a constitutional right to speak to your lawyer before questioning by the police, but only if you request one.  Once you have demanded to speak to your attorney do not speak to the police until your lawyer speaks to you.  The police DO NOT have to get a lawyer for you but they do have to stop questioning you.

Third, do not talk to your cell mates regarding your case.  They may inform on you to get leniency in their cases.  You may have to talk to them but you do not have to discuss the specifics of your case.

Fourth, if you are arrested for Driving While Intoxicated you should refuse to give a breath sample if you have had anything at all to drink.  You should refuse to participate in any field sobriety test.  If you have been drinking you should refuse to admit anything at all.  If you have “an odor of alcohol on your breath” you will most likely be arrested anyway as almost every police officer will not gamble his future on letting you go with the possibility that you may end up in an accident or cause an accident.  Any admission is likely to result in your arrest anyway.  Giving a breath test that shows a blood alcohol over .08 is going to be admissible as evidence and may be the basis for a conviction alone. Failing a field sobriety test is admissible and may result in conviction.  You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to give evidence about yourself so USE THAT RIGHT!

Fifth, even if you cannot afford to hire an attorney you can have one appointed for you.  When you do this you will be getting the next lawyer in line that day.  Most of these attorneys are excellent but you need an expert in drunk driving so you should plead “not guilty,” tell the judge you will hire your own attorney, and ask for copies of all of your reports from the court so that you may give them to the attorney of your choice.  If you cannot afford an attorney, the court has documents for you to fill out to see if you are eligible for a court appointed attorney.  Ask for these when you report to probation the very first day in court.

If you have been arrested and would like more information or assistance, feel free to contact us at (617) 328 -6900 or visit our website at www.rsweeneylaw.com.

MASSACHUSETTS HARDSHIP LICENSE

January 14, 2013

FIRST OFFENSE OUI HARDSHIP LICENSE APPLICATIONS TO THE REGISTRY OF MOTOR VEHICLES

The following is information regarding the availability of hardship licenses for people whose OUI cases have been disposed of in court pursuant to MGLc.90,s.24D.  Please be advised that this information is being provided solely for the purpose of allowing a defendant to better prepare for their hardship hearing before appearing at a Registry, and that the Registry may require other documents or information before rendering a decision.  At a minimum, please be aware of the following:

 Hardship licenses are available on any case where a defendant has been properly granted a disposition under MGL c.90, s24D.  The Registrar will not entertain requests in cases where the records of the agency reflect that such a disposition was not available to the defendant.

  1. In order to allow for the courts and the Registry to exchange information regarding these dispositions,
  2. hardship applicants must wait 3 business days after their court date before appearing at the Registry, and MUST first have appeared for in-take at their assigned first offender program.

Example:  On a court disposition on Monday, you may not appear at the Registry until Thursday.

Hardship applications may only be made at Registry locations that conduct hearings.  Presently, those branches are: Boston (630 Washington Street), Brockton, North Attleboro, Lowell, Worcester, Springfield and Lawrence. Theses locations are subject to change without notice.

You may not operate a motor vehicle until such time a hardship license may be granted.  Any evidence that you have been drinking since you have been suspended in this matter will be grounds for denial of your application.

You must provide the following documentation at the hearing:

:  Proof of hardship (i.e. employment, education, medical, etc.)

:  Proof of enrollment in a Massachusetts First Offender Program approved by the Department of Public Health.  No out of state programs authorized by MGL c.90, s24D.  You must first appear at the first offenders program that you have been assigned to for your initial interview, and have that documented on letterhead from the program.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Hardship licenses are not available under this law if you are suspended or revoked for any reason apart from this case, if charges other than OUI in this case cause you to be suspended or revoked, or if these charges combined with other incidents on your driving record result in other suspension or revocation action.

For assistance with this or any other legal problem contact Attorney Richard Sweeney at 617-328-6900 or at RSweeney@Rsweeneylaw.com

Massachusetts Drunk Driving Law

January 14, 2013

OFFENSE ELEMENTS

  • Operation of MV
  • On Public Way
  • With a Blood Alcohol of .08 or greater, or
  • Operating while under influence of alcohol. i.e., the ability to operate safely is diminished by the consumption of alcohol
  • All operators are deemed to have consented to a breath test administered by a police officer by virtue of driving
  • Applies if you are arrested for OUI
  • Refusals to take the breath test will result in license loss of anywhere from 180 days to life
  • The duration of license loss for BT refusal depends on prior convictions and age of offender

Breath Test Refusal Penalties

  • First Offender                                             180 days
  • Second Offender or Under 21              3 yrs + 180 days (waived if in 24P program)
  • Third Offender                                            5 years
  • Fourth Offender                                         10 Years
  • Fifth Offender                                              Life
  • Prior offense includes prior OUI, OUI and serious injury and MV homicide
  • No hardship license from suspensions imposed for Breath Test refusals, except in the case of a first offender who is enrolled in the OUI program.
  • License may be restored after an acquittal

Breath Test Failure Consequences

  • Immediate loss of license to police officer for 30 days or until case is disposed of by plea or trial, whichever comes first
  • Automobile is impounded for 12 hours
  • Breath Test result of .08 or above is admissible in prosecution provided test is administered in accordance with law.
  • Represents a “per se” violation of statute

 Penalties for Conviction

First Offense Over Age 21

  • Statutory penalty:
    • Fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000, or
    • Imprisonment in jail for not more than 2 ½ years in House of Correction, or
    • Both a fine and imprisonment
    • License loss 1 year
  • Alternate Disposition for First Offenders under G.L. c. 90, §24D
    • Two years probation, entry into approved OUI program, pay program costs and assessments, probation supervision fees
    • License loss of 45-90 days
    • Hardship license available after enrollment in program on limited basis
    • Fines and community service may be assessed.

Penalties for First Conviction

Under Age 21

  • A person under age 21 loses their license for 210 days for first offense conviction for OUI even if they enter G.L. c. 90, § 24D program, but is eligible for 12 hour hardship license upon enrollment in program.
  • An additional license loss of 180 days is imposed under G.L. c. 90, § 24P – this may be avoided by attendance at special underage drinking program
  • If the Breath Test result for a person between the age of 17 and 21 inclusive, is not less than .20, the first offender program is not available and the individual must attend a rehabilitation program known as the “14 day second offender in-home program.”

Second Offense

  • Fine of not less than $600 nor more than $10,000, AND
  • Imprisonment for not less than 60 days nor more than 2 ½ years
  • Minimum Mandatory Sentence of 30 days
  • License loss of two years
  • Assessments and fees applicable
  • Alternate Second Offender Disposition Available
    • Mandatory in-patient treatment at a residential alcohol treatment facility for 14 days, with aftercare
    • Two years probation
    • Two year license loss
    • Hardship license available after six months with ignition lock
    • Program costs and assessments applicable
  • Prior Convictions more than 10 years old may render a person eligible for first offender program once in a lifetime.
  • Persons eligible for any of the programs are presumed to be an appropriate candidate for the program.
  • A judge may deny admission of an otherwise eligible defendant to a program, but must make specific written findings that a defendant is not a suitable candidate.
  • Defendant not eligible for first offender program if serious bodily injury or death was caused in the events that gave rise to the conviction for OUI.
  • Persons who are domiciled out of state may be allowed to attend out of state programs
  • Defendants pay the costs associated with the programs
  • Probation fee of $250 in addition to program fees
  • Court may impose a minimum of 30 hours of community service
  • G.L. c. 90, § 24Q
  • Mandatory Alcohol Assessment by Department of Public Health or court approved program
  • All repeat offenders
  • Any offender with BAC of .20 or above
  • Must include assessment of the level of addiction to alcohol or drugs and recommended course of treatment.
  • Additional fee will be charged for the assessment

Penalties for Conviction

Third Offense

  • Fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $15,000, AND
  • Imprisonment for not less than 180 days, nor more than 2 ½ years in House of Correction or,
  • Imprisonment of 2 ½ – 5 years in State Prison
  • Minimum Mandatory Sentence of 150 days
  • License loss of 8 years
  • Hardship Available after 2 years with ignition lock

Fourth Offense

  • Fine of not less than $1,500 nor more than $25,000, AND
  • Imprisonment for not less than 2 – 2 ½ years in the House of Correction or not less than 2 ½ – 5 years in State Prison
  • Minimum Mandatory Sentence of 12 months
  • License Loss of 10 years
  • Hardship available after 5 years with ignition lock

Fifth Offense or More

  • Fine of not less than $2,000 nor more than $50,000, AND
  • Imprisonment of 2 ½ years to the House of Correction, or
  • Imprisonment of not less than 2 ½ nor more than 5 years in State Prison
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentence of 24 months
  • License Loss – Lifetime
  • No hardship available

Special Penalty Provisions

  • Any person under the age of 21, who takes a breath test with a result of .02 or greater, and who is not charged with OUI, shall have his license suspended for 180 days immediately under G.L. c. 90, § 24 P.
  • Lifetime revocation for persons who are convicted of OUI, MV Homicide and who have a prior OUI, OUI Homicide or OUI serious injury. G.L. c. 90, § 24R

Hardship Licenses

  • No hardship license from suspensions imposed for Breath Test refusals, except in the case of a first offender who is enrolled in the OUI program.
  • Hardship licenses are issued in the discretion of the registrar on such terms and conditions as are deemed appropriate and upon a showing the causes of the past and present violations have been dealt with or brought under control.
  • First offenders:  12 hour hardship license is available upon entry into program.
  • Second offenders:  12 hour hardship license for education or employment reasons after 12 months, provided person has completed in-patient program.  After 18 months may request for a new license. Vehicle must have ignition lock to obtain hardship license
  • Third Offense:  12 hour hardship license for education and employment purposes after two years and a new license on a limited basis after 4 years.  Vehicle must have ignition lock to obtain hardship license.
  • Fourth Offense:  12 hour hardship license for education and employment purposes after five years and a new license in a limited basis after 8 years. Vehicle must have ignition lock to obtain hardship license.
  • Fifth offense or more – No hardship license
  • Certified or attested copies of original court papers ACCOMPANIED BY 90:24(4)
  • Certified or attested copies of defendant’s biographical and informational data from records of the department of probation
  • Certified copies of any jail or house of corrections, the department of correction, or the registry shall be prima facie evidence that a defendant before the court had been previously convicted.
  • The documents are self-authenticating and admissible, after conviction of primary offense.  No live witnesses or other corroborating testimony is necessary.
  • New Crime:  G.L. c. 265, § 13 ½
  • Imprisonment for not less than 5 nor more than 20 years, and
  • A fine of not more than $25,000
  • Minimum Mandatory Sentence of 5 years
  • Manslaughter not defined in this statute
  • License loss of 15 years minimum, but may be up to a lifetime suspension
  • G.L. c. 90, § 24 ½
  • The device prevents the vehicle from operating if the BAC is above .02.
  • Device must be installed on each vehicle owned, leased or operated by a person previously convicted of OUI or similar offenses as a condition of the issuance of a new license
  • The device is to be installed for a period of two years (presumably from the date the new license is issued).
  • Device must be maintained and inspected in accordance with regulations yet to be enacted
  • The device will not permit operation of vehicle if BAC is .02 or above
  • Registrar may revoke license for up to life for two or more occasions of a failure to maintain or two or more instances of attempted use with .02 or above.
  • New Crimes
    • Operation MV in violation of interlock device restriction
      • Fine of $1000 to $15,000
      • Imprisonment for not less than 180 days nor more than 2 ½ years, or
      • Not less than 2 ½ nor more than 5 years in State prison
      • Mandatory Minimum of 150 days.
    • Tampering with Ignition lock
      • Not less than 6 months nor more than 2 ½ years H/C or
      • Not less than 3 years nor more than 5 years in state prison
    • Starting a MV equipped with Ignition lock
      • Fine of not less than $1000 nor more than $5000 or
      • Imprisonment for not less than 6 months nor more than 2 ½ years,
      •    Second Offense:  State Prison 3-5 years

For assistance with this or any other legal problem contact Attorney Richard Sweeney at 617-328-6900 or at RSweeney@Rsweeneylaw.com

New England Patriots, UMass Football and Gillette Stadium Concert fans are being arrested in record numbers.

September 29, 2012

Every week UMass Football fans, New England Patriots fans, and concert goers are arrested at Gillette Stadium and in Foxborough Massachusetts by officers patrolling the stadium, roadways and the surrounding parking lots.  There is a large police presence at these events and they are looking for Fake IDs, drunken behavior and DUI’s. You can be issued a trespass order and if you don’t comply you find yourself under arrest. If you find yourself arrested and charged with a crime a good attorney can assist you in getting a diversion program or help you win your case in Wrentham Court.  We are experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorneys familiar with Wrentham Court and Gillette Stadium arrests.  Our attorneys have a combined experience of more than forty years of successfully defending people arrested for crimes all over Massachusetts.  Make us your law firm.   Call the law office of Sweeney and Associates in Massachusetts at 617-328-6900, or feel free to email any questions you may have on this or any Massachusetts Criminal Law to me at RSweeney@RSweeneylaw.com.   Please visit our web page for more information on a variety of topics at www.Rsweeneylaw.com.

Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offender

September 8, 2012

In Massachusetts your license can be suspended for multiple traffic violations as an habitual traffic offender.

A simple guide is as follows:

If you receive 3 civil infractions within 12 months you will get a 30 day suspension;

If you have 5 surcharge-able events within 3 years (this includes accidents and civil infractions) you will get a 90 day suspension.  The Registry of Motor Vehicles will also make you complete a driver retraining course and your license is suspended UNTIL you complete driver retraining;

If you have 7 surcharge-able events in within 3 years you will get a 60 day suspension;

If you are deemed an Habitual Traffic Offender your license will be suspended for 4 years.

An experienced attorney can assist you and help save your license or get you a “Cinderella” or 12 hour license that enable you to get back and forth to work, school or other important places.  The EASIEST way to stop this from happening is to APPEAL THE CITATION WHEN YOU RECEIVE IT!  We can assist you in the appeal, even if you are wrong, and prevent the license suspension.  It is cheaper to have an attorney assist you in fighting the ticket than it is to have one help you at the Registry Board Of Appeals.

Call us at 617-328-6900 or see our website at:  WWW.RSWEENEYLAW.COM .  You can also email me at RSweeney@Rsweeneylaw.com.  We can help and the phone call is free.

MASSACHUSETTS DUI DEFENSE: HOW TO AVOID A MASSACHUSETTS DRUNK DRIVING ARREST AND MASS DRUNK DRIVING ROADBLOCKS

July 4, 2010

How smart is it to drive a car through the streets with, say, a .16 blood alcohol level? Not very. In fact, it is abundantly stupid and inherently dangerous for you and everyone in your vicinity. How about saving about $5,000 in attorney’s fees and take a cab instead of driving? How about, since it’s the summer and we all know we are going to imbibe, just plan to take a cab from the start?

Yes, think about it. A good attorney will charge you at least $5,000 pre-trial to work up your case. Yes, people, there are defenses to high blood alcohol DUI’s. That’s not to say that your case can be won. Many can, many can’t. It depends on how competent your lawyer is, how the cop did the investigation, if the machines used were properly calibrated, and what you said at the time of the investigation, amongst other things.

Remember, anyone with a law license from the State of Massachusetts can take your money and represent you on a DUI. That doesn’t mean that they know what they are doing. Drunk Driving law is a specialty just like doctors specialize.  You need a criminal defense firm not a real estate attorney.

Police agencies all over Massachusetts are setting up roadblocks, and putting officers on overtime, to make as many DUI arrests as possible. Hopefully, the tips below will come in handy for you.

Over Holiday weekends in particular you will run into Drunk Driving Roadblocks.  They are usually at chokepoints where you can’t turn around and they are looking for you, the “drunk driver”.   When you are in one do not turn attempt to get out or you will draw all of their attention,  Be Polite, Be Brief or Be Gone!!

1. If you drive in Massachusetts and you plan on having a cocktail or two, make sure you know where your license and registration are. Massachusetts DUI officers historically write in their Massachusetts DUI reports (putting only facts that harm you in them) that the suspect “fumbled for his wallet” and couldn’t find his registration. They use this to try to show you were impaired. Be prepared.

2. When you get signaled by the Massachusetts Police officer to pull over for a DUI assessment, do so immediately and safely. Roll down your window and put your hands on the steering wheel.

3. If a Massachusetts DUI officer asks you if you know why you are being pulled over, remember you don’t have to answer. What a dumb question! He knows why he is pulling you over. He is pulling you over to assess you for drunk driving, and he’s using the fact that you might have committed some minor vehicle code violations as an excuse. Don’t make any admissions to him. So, you can just ask him, “why?”

4. The next question the Massachusetts DUI officer is likely to ask is, “Have you had anything to drink tonight.” Remember your rights? You are not required to speak to officers. I know, I know, you think, “But if I don’t talk to the officer, he will be mad.” Let him be mad. You are not at a social gathering; he is not invited to your next birthday party. So don’t worry about how he feels. He is collecting evidence against you. Don’t give him any. It is best to say, “Officer, I appreciate what you do for a living, but I don’t wish to answer any of your questions.” You do NOT have to answer. The less from you he gets, the better for you in the long run. He is gathering evidence. But, you say, maybe he will let me go if he knows I’m being honest with him. NO. Most people who are pulled over and have alcohol on their breath get arrested. It’s just a fact of life. Don’t give him anything to put in that report that he can use against you later.

5. He may then say, “I’d like you to complete a series of tests for me.” Again, let him know that you do not wish to participate in any tests. You are not required to comply. Massachusetts DUI officers try to give a series of field tests to determine if you are impaired. I have NEVER known any officer to do these as per the standardized protocol. I am a retired Boston Police Officer who was trained to administer these tests, and was required to pass a practical and written test to get that certification. Cops learn how to do these, and then promptly forget them, making up their own “tests.” Do not do them. Do NOT let the officer collect more false “evidence” against you. Just reiterate that you do not wish to perform and tests. It’s your right.

6. The officer will most likely arrest you, cuff and take you to the station or barracks. You will be required to take a breath or blood test. You must choose to take one of these tests, or have your license suspended for failure to take the breathalyzer. A few pointers: If you are still absorbing alcohol, the breath test will read high. It is also an INDIRECT measurement of blood alcohol level.  If you believe that you have had too many drinks then DO NOT TAKE THE TEST.

7.  If you are arrested, you will be released within 12 hours on your promise to appear in court..  Get a good attorney to represent you as early in the process as possible to preserve your rights.  A capable attorney can read the reports and give you an honest assessment of your chances of winning the case at trial.

So, be careful. Don’t drink and drive. Drive safely. If stopped don’t talk to the police. Be polite, but do not let them gather inculpatory evidence against you. And when you get home call a good Massachusetts DUI Defense lawyer at 617-328-6900.  See our website at www.Rsweeneylaw.com