OUI stands for Operating Under the Influence in Massachusetts and refers to the criminal act of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also known as DUI, driving under the influence, or DWI, driving while intoxicated in other states, OUI is a serious crime and can carry harsh penalties if convicted. If you’ve been charged with OUI it is important to consult with a qualified criminal defense/OUI attorney to help ensure your legal rights and driving privileges are protected.
How is Someone “Charged with OUI”?
The United States Constitution provides individuals of the United States certain rights and protections before they can be formally accused of committing a crime. As OUI is a crime, so too must individuals charged with committing this crime be afforded the protections guaranteed them under the Constitution.
Therefore, before an individual can be charged, or formally accused, of committing the crime of operating under the influence, a legal process must first be followed.
The Reasonable Suspicion Standard
The process of being formally charged with OUI begins with an officer pulling you over. He or she may pull you over because they have reason to believe you are driving while intoxicated or you may be asked to stop for a completely unrelated reason. Regardless of the initial reason for the stop, the officer may ultimately arrest you for OUI. However, the initial stop can only be made if the officer has reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. An officer has wide latitude under this standard and can pull an individual over for many reasons. If the initial stop was not made under the reasonable suspicion standard, however, you may have a legal defense to a subsequent OUI charge.
The 4th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that citizens be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Therefore, before making an arrest for OUI, an officer must have probable cause. Probable cause is the reasonable belief that a crime was committed. Officers establish probable cause through observations of your driving behavior, through interviewing you, and through field sobriety tests. As with the “reasonable suspicion” standard, if it is determined that the officer did not have probable cause, you may have a defense to the charges against you.
Once the officer feels there is probable cause to make an arrest, you will likely be asked to submit to a breathalyzer, or other chemical tests, to provide further evidence of your intoxication. Thereafter, if there is sufficient evidence, formal OUI charges will be filed against you.
Call a Boston Area OUI Attorney
It is important to know that just because you have been charged with operating under the influence does not mean that you are guilty of OUI. Anyone accused of committing a crime, including OUI, must be judged guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The lawyers who work with OUI Attorneys can help advise you and answer your questions about the charges filed against you as well as any legal defenses or options under the law. When accused of committing a crime, it is important to talk with an attorney to help ensure your freedom and driving privileges are protected.