OUI stands for “Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs.”
You will also be charged with “or .08% or higher” if you took the breathalyzer and registered a reading of at least .08% or higher on that test.
Do You Need a Northampton OUI Defense Attorney?
Tom Kokonowski has successfully defended hundreds of OUI cases in his career, both with and without breathalyzer evidence.
Look No Further for a Criminal Defense Lawyer:
I was arrested for OUI. The police report painted me in…well not the best light to say the least. From discussing my options, to the actual trial Tom Kokonowski was proactive and put my worries at ease. Tom’s aggressive defense is the reason I do not have an OUI on my record today. I’ve always enjoyed watching anyone who is an expert at what they do work, it’s almost like a perfectly choreographed dance. In this case Tom danced circles around the asst. DA. She looked like a fresh out of law school public defender next to Tom. I am so grateful that Tom helped me navigate this chapter in my life. Hiring him was the best decision I could have made (immediately following possibly one of my less intelligent decisions). Hopefully you never need his services but if you do. Hire him.
“Elements” of an OUI Case
In order to be convicted of an OUI, the prosecutor in your case must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. That You Were Operating a Motor Vehicle
The prosecution must first prove that you were operating a motor vehicle. Legally speaking, they must prove that you took an action that would either on its own or in sequence set the vehicle into motion.
For example, if you were intoxicated and got behind the wheel of your car in the parking lot of the bar and put the keys in the ignition when a police officer spotted you, the prosecutor could use this evidence to suggest that you were operating the vehicle.
However, if you were sitting in the front seat but the car was not on and the keys were in your back pocket, a defense attorney could argue that you were simply “sitting it out” and had no intention of operating the vehicle.
2. That You Were On a Public Way
In order to be successfully convicted of an OUI in Massachusetts, the prosecutor must prove that you were operating the vehicle on a public way. This generally includes public streets, parking lots, highways, and other places to which the general public has access.
If you were at a party at a private home and were arrested for an OUI while moving your car in the driveway so someone else could get out, your defense attorney could argue that you were not driving on a public way nor did you intend to.
3. That You Were Under The Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
The most important element in an OUI case is the proof that you were under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. This is can be proven two ways — by the arresting officer’s observations and by chemical testing.
An officer can testify in court that he or she observed you exhibiting behavior that suggested you were impaired, such as slurred speech or difficulty walking.
However, an OUI defense attorney may be able to argue that there were other explanations for the officer’s observations, such as red eyes being the result of allergies or fatigue.
How an OUI/DWI/DUI Lawyer in Northampton Can Help
It is my opinion that every one of these cases should be thoroughly analyzed, from beginning to end, before the client decides to plead guilty or go to trial.
- The first thing that I analyze is the reason why you were stopped. The ultimate question is, “Did the officer or trooper have a legal reason to stop you?” An officer must have probable cause to pull over your car in the first place. If not, I will challenge the entire case based on an illegal stop, search and seizure through something called a Motion to Suppress Evidence. If a judge agrees with my assertion that it was an illegal stop, no evidence can be introduced at trial and your case would be dismissed.
- Next, if there is no reason to file a Motion to Suppress, I will determine how field sobriety tests were administered to you. Oftentimes, there is a video of your performance which was taken from the officer’s cruiser during these tests. These tests are inherently unreliable, in my opinion, and my system of cross-examination at trial will clearly show that to a jury. There are numerous factors that play into how an individual performs on roadside sobriety tests, and what the police suggest are were indicators of intoxication may be due to other circumstances. My system of cross examination of law enforcement is designed to bring out more indicators of sobriety than the Commonwealth is able to bring out indicators of intoxication.
- The breath test is also unreliable. The fact that our rules allow there to be variations of .02% between readings during the test is clear evidence of that. The breath test is simply a machine that has many flaws. Not only is a breath test unreliable, an officer must follow certain protocols in order to properly calibrate the machine and administer the test. Often, officers fail to do so and if the breathalyzer machine is shown to be unreliable, the evidence may not be admitted into court. My system of cross-examination and use of expert witnesses at trial brings all of that information out to a jury.
It is important to remember that just because you have been arrested and charged with OUI it does not mean that your case is over.
In my opinion, it means that your case is just beginning, especially if it is not the first time you have been charged with OUI. Subsequent offenses of OUI bring significantly harsher penalties, even if you decide to plead guilty.
The elements that the government must prove to convict you of operating under the influence of drugs include operation of a motor vehicle and public way, just like OUI alcohol, but they have to prove that you were operating under the influence of a drug or drugs.
This is much different and more difficult than proving OUI alcohol.
- First, there has to be evidence that you ingested some type of drug.
- If they have that evidence, they then have to prove that the drug(s) impaired your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
- The only way they can prove that is to call an expert witness (preferably a doctor) to describe how that particular drug affects a human’s brain and how it may affect someone’s ability to drive a car.
My office uses our own expert witnesses to combat any expert that may be called by the Commonwealth.
Standard Sentence for First Offense OUI:
- One year supervised probation while the charge is continued without a finding (CWOF)
- $250 in court costs
- $250 head injury fee
- $150 victim of OUI fee
- $50 victim witness fee
- $65/month probation supervision fee for the entire year
- Attend and complete the driver alcohol education program at a cost of approximately $770
- 45-90 day loss of license, which is in addition to any loss of license for breathalyzer failure or refusal
Standard Sentence for Second Offense OUI:
- Two years of probation
- Attend a 14 day in-patient treatment facility in Tewksbury, MA at a cost of $1,050
- Remain drug and alcohol free and submit to random screens
- 2 year suspension of your driver’s license, in addition to any suspension having to do with breathalyzer issues
- Install an interlock device in your vehicle for 2 years
Standard 3rd Offense OUI Sentence:
- 180 days to jail with the last 97 days spent at the Howard Street facility in Springfield
- Probation for 3 years when you get out of jail
- 5 year loss of license
Professional, detailed and caring:
I was facing an oui charge and Tom was very detailed and professional with every step of the way. He represented me in my case and and beat the charge. Above all, Tom is genuine and caring and this added comfort to my situation. I believe all these components distinguish between a good lawyer and a great lawyer. I highly recommend Tom
Your Rights at an OUI Stop
It is important to understand your legal rights when you are stopped by a police officer.
The Right to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
Under Massachusetts law, you have the right to refuse field sobriety tests. This does not indicate that you are impaired or that you have anything to hide, despite the fact that the officer who stopped you may lead you to believe so.
If you had been drinking and are asked to perform field sobriety tests, politely decline and explain that you are invoking your right to do so under the law.
The Right to Refuse a Breathalyzer Test
If you refuse chemical testing under Massachusetts law, you will automatically have your license suspended. However, you can refuse a breathalyzer test and request to submit to another form of chemical testing, such as blood testing.
You also have the right to obtain a blood sample at the same time you provide one to law enforcement in order to send to an independent lab for testing.This is called split testing, and can provide critical evidence for your case.
If an officer stops you and asks you to submit to a breathalyzer test, politely decline the breathalyzer test and inform the officer that you would like to invoke your right to submit to a blood test and obtain a second sample for split testing.
The Right to Remain Silent
You do not have to answer any questions that the officer asks, other than providing your identity. If the officer asks if you have been drinking, you have the right to not answer. If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and should do so.
Contact an OUI Defense Attorney as Soon as Possible
You also have the right to contact a defense attorney immediately upon being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It is important that you invoke this right before answering any questions from the police. Your defense lawyer can guide you through the questioning process to ensure that you do not provide answers that may be used against you later in court.
An attorney will keep law enforcement officers in check and ensure they abide by the law during all stages of your arrest and investigation.
As an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, I understand how the criminal system works in relation to OUI arrests. I can be a valuable asset to you immediately upon your arrest and will fight zealously for your rights from the start of your case.
I will unearth every piece of evidence that may be able to be used to support your innocence, and I will challenge the prosecution at every turn with a well-strategized defense.
My goal is to see that the charges against you are dismissed, and in the event that the prosecution does have overwhelming evidence against you, I will utilize my expertise and experience to negotiate the least severe penalty for you under the law.
Call today for a consultation to discuss your case in detail at 413-585-9200 or 413-549-0022. I am available now to assist you.