It is a police officer’s responsibility to properly investigate the circumstances surrounding an individual suspected of drunk driving. He or she must gather sufficient evidence in the proper and legal manner in order for it to be presented it to the court where an individual’s guilt or innocence will be decided. If there is not sufficient proof or if a person’s rights were infringed upon when collecting the evidence, an individual should not be found guilty of operating under the influence.
The Importance of the Massachusetts Chemical Test
Proof that an individual committed the crime of OUI in Massachusetts requires the Commonwealth to prove three elements. Each element must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction for the crime. The elements of OUI include:
- That the defendant, or accused, was operating a motor vehicle;
- On a public way;
- And that the defendant driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Typically, the first two elements of the crime of OUI are not difficult to prove. Many cases will hinge on the third element — that the defendant driver was intoxicated. There are several ways the prosecution can attempt to prove this element:
- The manner in which you were driving. The prosecutor can present evidence of swerving, speeding, or otherwise erratic driving behavior.
- The initial interview and other observations throughout the investigation. The prosecutor can present evidence (video or other evidence) of slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, or bloodshot eyes. Possibly a defendant may have even admitted to drinking and driving when speaking with the officer.
- Results of field sobriety tests. If you were asked to exit your vehicle and undergo roadside exercises, evidence of test “failure” can be presented as well.
All of these observations can point to an individual’s guilt of OUI, however, there is another, arguably more reliable, piece of evidence that an officer will try to obtain for the prosecutor:
- Chemical test results. A chemical test is either a blood, urine, or breath test that will provide reliable evidence of intoxication in the form of a reading of blood alcohol content (BAC).
If an individual has a BAC reading of .08% or higher, he or she is presumed to be intoxicated under the law. The Commonwealth need not present further evidence of intoxication, the third element of the crime, making the chemical test an important piece of evidence for the prosecution.
You Must First Consent to the Blood Test Before a Blood Draw
Under Massachusetts law, an individual under suspicion of OUI must consent to have his or her blood drawn. This is so despite the implied consent law in the state. The implied consent law provides that by virtue of the fact that you have a Massachusetts driver’s license, you impliedly consent to a chemical test when suspected of OUI, including a blood test. Again, you still must consent to the blood test and cannot be forced into a blood draw. The test must be administered fairly and implied consent and the testing must be properly explained to you.
If the proper process is not followed for the blood draw or if it was determined to be forced, or coerced, without your consent, the evidence/ results may be suppressed by the court and determined inadmissible as evidence against you.
Subpoenaing BAC Results from Medical Records
Under Massachusetts law, if you are taken to the hospital for an accident with injuries, the hospital can draw your blood for medical purposes. If the prosecution issues a subpoena for your blood results, they may be able to legally obtain your BAC at the time of the incident. The hospital must draw your blood for a legitimate medical reason (and not to further the investigation), but it’s important to note that hospitals draw blood from most patients.
Call an Experienced Massachusetts OUI Attorney
If you have questions about your Massachusetts OUI blood test or other chemical test, call an experienced Massachusetts OUI attorney. An attorney can assist you through the criminal process and help determine if the blood draw or other chemical test was done properly and in accordance with your legal rights.