Articles Posted in Traffic/Driving Offenses

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The new law which makes it legal to possess an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use has left many confused as to what is legal when it comes to possessing or using marijuana. Possession of any amount of marijuana with the intent to distribute is still a crime. Growing marijuana in any amount is still a crime. Possession of drug paraphernalia, such as a pipe, grinder or any other type of smoking device when possessed with marijuana is still a crime.

The supreme judicial Court has recently decided a some cases which help clarify some gray areas that existed.

The first case involved the police searching the backpack of a young man after witnessing him share a marijuana joint with others in public. The District Attorney’s Office argued that the police had the right to search the backpack without a warrant based on their observations of him sharing marijuana with others. The Supreme Court ruled the search of the backpack without a warrant was illegal. The ruling makes it clear that sharing a joint with others is not considered distribution of marijuana and that such an offense is merely a civil infraction which does not open the door for the police to search a person or his property further. So this means that police are limited in their ability to search when encountering a civil marijuana infraction. As a side note approximately 23 grams of marijuana was found in the backpack which is less than an ounce, but the marijuana was packaged in ten small baggies leading the police to charge possession with the intent distribute. Evidence used by police to prove intent to distribute is usually the amount of drugs, manner in which it is packaged, large amounts of currency or cell phones/beepers, scales, baggies or any other evidence of distribution.

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On December 29, 2011 Salem Massachusetts a young couple was an argument while driving down Federal Street witnesses say the man began to beat his 18-year-old girlfriend in the car. When someone approached the vehicle to help the young woman tried to exit the car and got her legs stuck on the seat the driver took off dragging his girlfriend 400 feet down the road.

The woman eventually broke free the man drove over her left arm breaking it. Soon police found the woman with visible injuries on her face and road rash on her right side, her left arm was broken.

Salem police were able to identify the boyfriend is Daniel Rodriguez, 22, of Jamaica Plain Boston. They are currently trying to find him.

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Cara Dellabarba, 28, of Weymouth attempt to drive home after celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday party at the old colony yacht club in Dorchester. She ended up driving the wrong way down Morrissey Boulevard and striking a state trooper’s vehicle while he was inside it. Her car then drove over a traffic island and its is reported she attempted to drive away but the car was disabled.

She admitted to the state trooper that she drank a lot while at the club and stated that she realizes what happened but can she be allowed to go home. The state trooper suffered minor injuries from his vehicle being struck. Since January 1, 2010, 45 state troopers have been injured by motorists, half of these accidents have been caused by people operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Dellabarba failed a variety of field sobriety tests and when asked to perform the breathalyzer at the station she did not blow hard enough or long enough into the breathalyzer to give a proper sample. After receiving further instructions to blowhard and for a longer period she was still unable to give a proper sample for the breathalyzer to give a reading. The police believe that she did this intentionally and therefore considered this a refusal to take the breath test. Refusing the breathalyzer triggers an automatic 180 day suspension of a person’s driver’s license by the Registry of motor vehicles.

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Matt Amorello the former chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority admitted in Haverhill district court to operating under the influence related to a car crash back in August in which he struck two parked vehicles and then continued to try and drive his vehicle after one of the wheels had fallen off. He refused the breathalyzer at the time, causing a loss of license for 180 days and today received a further 45 day loss of license after making his admission.

Amorello was charged with Operating under the influence in Massachusetts, as a first time offender he is eligible to receive an alternative disposition which allows for a person to waive his rights to a trial and make an admission at which time a Judge may not find him guilty but rather continue the case without a finding (known as a CWOF) usually for a one year period in which the person is on probation. An alcohol class must be completed, it is essentially a drunk driving course which is one evening a week for approximately sixteen weeks. The drunk driving charge carries fines and fees totaling close to one thousand dollars. Once a person signs up for the Alcohol course they then can apply for a hardship license also known as a Cinderella license which allows a driver to drive for a twelve hour period every day. If the person pays all the fines and completes the program and probation without picking up any new charges the case will be dismissed at the end of the term of probation.

An experienced boston criminal lawyer who is familiar with what to look for and knows how to fight operating under the influence (OUI) charges or drunk driving charges should be consulted as soon as possible after being arrested. A second offense OUI and third offense OUI carry heavier sentences and carry the potential of jail if convicted. Massachusetts has a stepped approach to drunk driving where every new offense a person faces carries a longer and longer jail sentence. Drunk driving charges carry minimum mandatory sentences in jail when you start facing 3 or more convictions.

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A Missouri man whose car slipped off an icy road had to wait two hours before emergency workers arrived to help him. When police arrived they found him intoxicated. A jury found him not guilty based on his testifying that he did not drink alcohol before driving but only after he slipped off the icy road and was waiting for help. He drank to keep warm until help arrived.

In Massachusetts the Commonwealth to prove operating under the influence, or OUI, (DUI), has to show that you were impaired by alcohol and were driving on a public way while impaired. Usually this evidence comes in the form of a police officer observing how a suspect was driving, then pulling the person over and testifying to how that person appeared, smelled, acted and what he said during the stop and field sobriety tests. It is not usual for such a long period of time to pass between an accident and when help arrives that a person can claim that the act of drinking took place after the accident while awaiting the police.

An experienced boston criminal lawyer who is familiar with what to look for and knows how to fight operating under the influence (OUI) charges or drunk driving charges should be consulted as soon as possible after being arrested. A second offense OUI and third offense OUI carry heavier sentences and carry the potential of jail if convicted. Massachusetts has a stepped approach to drunk driving where every new offense a person faces carries a longer and longer mandatory jail sentence. Drunk driving charges carry minimum mandatory sentences in jail when you start facing 3 or more convictions.