Massachusetts has arguably the strictest operating-under-the-influence laws in the United States. You could be arrested for simply drinking alcohol while seated in the driver’s seat of your car with the keys still in the ignition. That equates driving or operating the vehicle. In other states, you need to be actually driving to be stopped, tested, and arrested for drunk-driving.
So, what happens if you are arrested for operating a vehicle while under the influence in Massachusetts?
The first thing you need to know is that court procedures are made up of a labyrinth of processes that may prove difficult to maneuver alone. Consider hiring the best OUI attorney you can find in Massachusetts for legal advice and representation in court.
The arrest: Arrests usually happen at traffic stops, though, as stated above, you can be arrested even in a parking lot if you are drinking or have an open alcohol container in your vehicle with the keys in the ignition. You will be put through chemical tests and arrested if your blood alcohol content is found to be over the legal minimum. In Massachusetts, the legal minimum is 0.08 percent for drivers 21 years old or older.
Once arrested, you will be taken to the nearest police station or sheriff’s station while your car will likely be impounded.
Arraignment: This is when you first appear in court, usually for the reading of your charges. In many cases, the judge will let you go home with the hope that you will honor court summons once your trial begins. They may also set your bail, but this is mostly done for third-time and subsequent offenders.
Pretrial conference: Pretrial conferences usually take place between the fourth and the sixth weeks after the arraignment and are scheduled to ensure the defendant has all the information about their case. Some cases may involve more than one conference.
Motion hearings: Your attorney will review your case from the day of the arrest in an attempt to identify a weakness in the prosecution’s case against you. If, for instance, the police officers at the traffic stop didn’t have probable cause to suspect you of drunk-driving but stopped you anyway, your attorney can make motions to try and have the case dismissed. Motions can also be used to suppress statements such as illegally obtained evidence and false statements from fake witnesses.
Trial: If your attorney is unable to have the case dismissed through motion hearings, it will be resolved by trial. One upside about OUI trials is that they can be heard and decided in a single day. Your attorney will explain the charges to you and the consequences you face if convicted. Some attorneys will even let you in on your chances of winning the case.
It is, however, important to keep in mind that no lawyer is in a position to accurately tell you of the judge’s verdict ahead of time. This is regardless of the weight of the evidence the prosecution has against you.