Police officers have many ways to gather evidence of drunk driving. From the initial observations of your driving behavior through the time you are behind bars, the officer is taking notes and building a case against you. When it comes time to proving their case, the prosecution will have gathered information about the manner in which you were driving when you were initially pulled over; information collected during the initial “interview”; results of field sobriety testing; and, the most important piece of evidence for most OUI/ DUI/ DWI cases, the results of any chemical test.
The Reason for Chemical Testing in an OUI Case
To understand why a negative chemical test is so essential for the prosecution, it is important to first understand the definition of driving while under the influence in Massachusetts. Under Massachusetts law, you can be convicted of drunk driving in one of two ways:
- The state can prove that you were so impaired by alcohol or drugs that it was unsafe for you to be driving. The prosecutor will try to prove this by offering evidence, such as the arresting officer’s observations of your driving and behavior. For example, they may offer evidence of alcohol on your breath, alcohol bottles in the vehicle, erratic and dangerous driving, and “failure” of the field sobriety tests among other observations. The important point to make about this method of proof is that observations can oftentimes be disputed as an officer’s “opinion” without actual scientific proof. It can even be argued that the field sobriety tests are not reliable proof against you.
- The second way to prove OUI in the state is by way of “OUI per se.” This basically means that if the state can present a chemical test result of .08% blood alcohol content (BAC) or higher, you are legally presumed to be drunk, and conviction can follow without any additional evidence of drinking and driving.
Types of Chemical Tests
The term “chemical test” refers to a scientific analysis of bodily fluids to determine the presence of illegal substances or alcohol in the blood. The chemical test can be a blood, urine, or breath test, but is most often a breath test, or breathalyzer. If any of these tests result in a BAC of .08% or higher, the state has scientific proof that you were operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Should I Refuse the Chemical Test?
Legally speaking there is no right or wrong answer when to comes to whether or not you should submit to a chemical test. One thing is certain, however, if you refuse to submit to the test, you will suffer severe restrictions of your driving privileges.
Like all of the other forty-nine states, Massachusetts has adopted an implied consent law. The implied consent law provides that by virtue of having a Massachusetts driver’s license, you consent to chemical testing of your blood, urine, or breath in the event an officer suspects drunk driving. Failure to submit after giving this implied consent will result in loss of your driver’s license. The amount of time you will lose your license and the ability to apply for a hardship license will depend on several factors in the case including the number of prior OUI offenses on your record.
Call a Boston Area Criminal Defense Attorney to Discuss Your Chemical Test
The OUI Attorneys network includes former prosecutors and other criminal defense lawyers who can talk with you about your chemical test results and OUI charge. They understand that mistakes can be made and are available to discuss the charges against you and any options available to you under the law. Call to schedule your free initial consultation and talk about your case with an experienced OUI lawyer.