Whether or not to contact an attorney in any criminal case is an important and personal decision. You may be unsure if you can, or should, call an attorney to discuss your case. If you have been arrested and charged with OUI, or operating under the influence, in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney. Being charged with an OUI/DUI means that you face serious criminal penalties, restrictions on your driving privileges, fines, and possible jail time. An attorney can advise you as to your legal options, applicable alternative punishments, and valid defenses to fight your OUI/DUI case.
An Attorney Can Help
An attorney can provide much needed legal advice and support throughout the entire process in the event you or a loved one were charged with OUI/DUI. From the arrest to trial and beyond, the law can be complex and confusing and an attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected.
Legal Advice About the Initial Stop through Arrest
If you are pulled over by an officer on suspicion of drunk driving, you undoubtedly have questions about the initial stop, the field sobriety and chemical tests, and the information provided to you by the officer.
An attorney can help ensure that all processes were followed properly and that your Constitutional rights were protected. For example, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that some type of violation occurred to make the initial vehicle stop. The officer must then have probable cause to make an arrest. If these measures were not taken, your rights may not have been protected and you may have a valid defense to the charges against you.
An attorney can also provide crucial advice about the field sobriety tests that may or may not have been conducted. The fact that you refused field sobriety testing cannot be introduced against you at trial, for example. Additionally, the reliability of such testing is also questionable in some cases and an attorney can help develop a valid defense if applicable.
Legal Advice About the Breathalyzer and Refusals
A good number of individuals arrested for DUI in the country refuse the breathalyzer (or other chemical test such as blood or urine). Whether this is a good idea depends on the facts of each individual case. Despite whether you took the breathalyzer test and failed or whether you refused the test, it is best to speak with an attorney about your options going forward.
After an officer has probable cause to make an arrest, he or she will request you submit to a chemical test, or blood, breath or urine test to determine blood alcohol content (BAC). When you apply for a driver’s license in the state you give implied consent to the officer to perform this test and therefore if you refuse, you will lose your driver’s license for 180 days.
There is an opportunity to dispute the license suspension within 15 days of the chemical test refusal, however. There are three reasons for which you can contest a license suspension and several reasons, that may pertain to your case, to contest the breathalyzer/chemical test administration. An attorney can determine if the chemical test was administered properly and regarding any defenses that may be relevant to your case.
Legal Advice Arraignment Through Trial
Having an attorney by your side throughout litigation, or the process through the court system, can provide you with valuable legal advice and support. The first time you will appear in court after your arrest with be for the Arraignment. The Arraignment will be held the next business day after arrest and is the time at which you will be formally advised of the charges against you. You will also be asked how you would like to plead, guilty or not guilty.
The Pre-Trial Conference follows the Arraignment. The Pre-Trial Conference is the forum in which you and the Commonwealth will attempt to settle the case or prepare for trial. It is a very good idea to have an attorney present to review the police report and challenge any inconsistencies, decide if any motions are necessary, request any and all documentation relevant to the case and decide if a plea deal is advisable.
Hearings and Trial will be the final stages of litigation. You have the right to represent yourself as a “pro se” defendant. However, representing yourself, can be very difficult. Attorneys have years of additional schooling and experience that can provide the advice and resources needed to successfully defend a case. Although many times not as complex as some criminal cases, an OUI case can be complicated and can involve filing motions (such as to suppress evidence, for example), presenting complex or technical defense arguments, and questioning witnesses.
Public Defender or Private Defense Attorney
Some defendants may be eligible for a public defender for their OUI/DUI case if they fall within the financial restrictions. Under the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution, every individual has a right to assistance of counsel when accused of a serious crime. Public defenders are available to those that cannot afford to hire a private attorney.
Hiring a private attorney for your OUI/DUI defense has advantages over hiring a public defender, however. Public defenders can have quite heavy caseloads whereas private attorneys may not handle as many cases at one time and, therefore, may have more time to spend on your case. In addition, you can choose your private attorney. Conversely, you do not get to choose a public defender; one will be chosen for you.
Call the OUI Attorneys for a Free Consultation
An attorney can provide you with experienced legal advice and options throughout the OUI/DUI process. Calls are monitored 24/7 at the OUI Attorneys lawyer referral service and our dedicated DUI lawyers can provide a free initial consultation to discuss the charges against you.