Defense attorneys view the legal system a little bit differently than the general public because we know that although our judicial system is effective in certain respects, it’s not always fair. The members of our state legislature and Federal Congress make laws that should apply to the vast majority of cases, but these laws can and often are misapplied or are interpreted in a way that diminishes your constitutional rights. The rules and laws regarding how evidence is gathered to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of your arrest fall into this category.
For example, on March 18, 1963, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Gideon vs. Wainright that established your constitutional right to an attorney in a criminal proceeding, but the question that most people struggle with is, at what point do I get access to this right? Think about it. Can you ask for an attorney before you answer whether or not you will submit to a breathalyzer or blood test? This choice is important because if you refuse, you lose your license for at least 180 days. However, if you submit to the test and fail, you are essentially handing a state prosecutor a substantial piece of evidence that you are guilty of OUI. The answer is no. You are not entitled to the assistance of an attorney prior to answering whether or not you will submit to breathalyzer or blood test pursuant to the holding by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in Commonwealth vs. Timothea T. Neary-French.
BAC Laws in Massachusetts
Similar to the holding in Neary-French, many of the rules regarding BAC evidence do not favor the offender by design, and if you don’t know what your legal obligations are, these rules can damage both your legal rights during the judicial process and as a result of an OUI conviction, your life overall.
BAC Tests in Massachusetts
Everyone is typically aware of the test a police officer can ask you to submit to in order to determine your BAC levels. While these tests are effective in certain cases, they are flawed in many ways. Factors such as your age, race, weight, and overall health can affect your lung capacity which in turn can skew the results of a breathalyzer test, according to research published by the Syracuse Journal of Science and Technology Law. In fact, this research found physiological factors that affect a person’s lung capacity can result in a breathalyzer test having a 50% margin of error, which is highly significant when you consider that you can be charged with a DUI in the state of Massachusetts for operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08%. Moreover, other factors can affect the accuracy of the breathalyzer test such as:
- Using mouthwash, breath sprays, or cough syrup shortly before taking the test
- Being diabetic
- Having acid reflux
- Certain weather conditions
Blood Tests used to Determine BAC
The second test that is used to determine your BAC levels is a blood test, but being able to take your blood legally comes with some legal hurdles that the police have to overcome in many circumstances. Specifically, under normal circumstances, the police would need to obtain a warrant to involuntarily draw your blood due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Missouri vs. McNeely. However, Massachusetts does have an implied consent law that automatically suspends your license for a year if you refuse to submit to any chemical test of your blood or breath, but implied consent only applies to blood when you have been taken to a medical facility for treatment. Meaning, the police can’t just demand to draw your blood on the side of the road if they suspect that you are intoxicated.
Moving to Suppress BAC Evidence
Police officers make mistakes on a very frequent basis, which is why BAC evidence can be suppressed in certain cases. Your Massachusetts OUI attorney will evaluate how the BAC evidence was obtained, why you were pulled over to begin with, and whether or not the police officer had probable cause to stop you in the first place. These are key elements that your OUI attorney will evaluate in order to determine whether or not the BAC evidence obtained by the police can be suppressed in court, which if successful, would prohibit the prosecution from using the BAC evidence at trial. As such, it’s important for you to discuss exactly how you were pulled over, how the BAC evidence was obtained, and any other information about the arrest with your OUI attorney.
Massachusetts OUI Attorney
Being charged and convicted of OUI in Massachusetts can have a devastating impact on your future, but hiring an experienced OUI attorney can often be the key to obtaining the best possible resolution to your case. The fact is, an experienced OUI lawyer can negotiate with the state’s attorney’s office to obtain the most lenient plea agreement possible or move to have your case dismissed entirely in certain situations. At Coughlin Law Group, our criminal attorney has years of experience defending individuals charged with DUI, and our criminal lawyer will fight to defend your legal rights and obtain the best possible resolution in your case. So, call our office today for a free consultation to find out how a Massachusetts OUI attorney can help you.