Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Boston Celebrity And Her Lawyer At The Bar In Drunk Driving Case

You know, sometimes the weather gets to everyone. The cold Northeast winters…except for those midwinter days when we get 70 degree weather and then a blizzard the next day. It’s confusing and it could lead a person to drink. And that is basically what happened to Boston’s free-lance meteorologist Melissa B. (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) last Friday. Now, the 39-year-old celebrity needs a defense attorney to ensure that she is able to remain free to even see the weather.

It happened last Friday morning. A professional, she was back on the air that night.

The Defendant was driving the 2004 Cadillac Escalade at approximately 1:35 a.m. when she passed a state police trooper in the left lane of Soldiers Field Road “going well over” the posted speed limit according to state police spokesman Dave Procopio.

The Defendant’s vehicle “nearly struck the front of his cruiser as it cut in front of him,” said Procopio, quoting from the police report. The trooper reported the Defendant was driving between 50 to 55 mph (the posted speed limit was 40) and was “weaving between” the travel lanes. The road conditions were poor, the trooper stated, and Soldiers Field Road was covered in sleet and snow.

Procopio said the trooper pulled the Defendant over and he “observed a smell of alcohol” when he approached the driver’s side. The trooper reported that the former WBZ-TV meteorologist asked him a question that was “incoherent.”

The Defendant and her counsel entered a not guilty plea on her behalf to charges including Massachusetts drunk driving in Brighton District Court and she was let go on personal recognizance.

“It was very apparent that the Defendant was highly intoxicated,” Trooper Paul Connelly wrote in his report. “[She] was unable to focus on me and several times could not remember what I just said. [She] also was not making any sense when she spoke.”

The trooper asked the Defendant to exit her car several times, and when she finally did, she began to sway and had to use her hands for balance, he stated in his report.
“As she stood up she immediately began to sway and user her hands for balance, placing them on the car. As she walked, it looked as if she was walking in the dark,” the trooper states. “Her steps were short and choppy, as if she was feeling with her feet. Her arms were up and out for balance. As [she] stood in front of me, she rocked back on her heels and then placed her right foot back to catch her balance.”

The Defendant, failed the field sobriety tests and was arrested, police said. When given the alphabet test, she could not get past the letter “B,” the trooper states.
Bell could not “complete any part” of the finger to nose test, the report states.
Bell was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and other Massachusetts traffic violations. She was handcuffed, put in the cruiser and taken to the Brighton state police barracks.

The report states Bell registered a .18 chemical breath test – twice the legal limit of .08.

Despite the speedy and bumpy start to the day, the Defendant went on the air at WFXT-TV to forecast the weather Friday night at 10 and 11 and Saturday night at 10 while filling in for weekend meteorologist A.J. Burnett.

A source said FOX 25 didn’t learn about her arrest until afterwards. Apparently eager to wash its hands of any connection to crime, a station spokeswoman said the Defendant is a free-lancer and is “not on our schedule at this time.”

In fact, The Defendant listed her job as a “consultant” on the police report.

The Defendant’s attorney has released a statement that his client feels badly about the incident. “[The Defendant] regrets her actions and she acknowledges that she showed poor judgment,” he said. “She’s never been in trouble before and she’s willing to face the consequences for her actions.”

Attorney Sam’s Take:

I know that the Defendant is a local celebrity, but I felt it only fair to treat her like I treat most accused individuals in terms of her name. If you want to read an article which plasters her name as many times as possible, complete with home address and any other personal information that can possibly be released, click on the links below. It would appear that when a celebrity is the accused, everybody gets excited.

But I know that, for the worldly readers of this daily blog…she is just another defendant, right?

A few things are worth noting about this story. First of all, many of my clients are shocked to learn that by the time it comes to field sobriety tests, at the latest, the police have already reached the conclusion that the driver is intoxicated. What they are doing at that point is building the case. In this case, it is interesting that the report apparently reads, “As she stood up she immediately began to sway and user her hands for balance, placing them on the car. As she walked, it looked as if she was walking in the dark,”

Didn’t this happen at 1:30a.m.? Now, it may be that the planets went a bit out of whack on Friday morning in the area (I was out of town), but otherwise it tends to be a bit dark at that hour. But, I suppose it is a matter of perspective. What is dark to me may be bright to some others. Maybe the officer was part bat.

The point is that it reflects a mind long since made up.

You should know that you have a right not to partake in the field sobriety tests, just as you have the right not to take the breathalyzer. Failing the breath test is particularly harmful to your chances of winning the case. I know that you lose your license for a while if you refuse to take the test. However, if you know you have been drinking…not to mention speaking incoherently and having trouble walking…you are likely to fail the test and end up losing that license for a much longer time.

The full articles of this story can be found at http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977604453&grpId=3659174697244816&nav=Groupspace&memberId=555118, http://news.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/2009_02_23_Fox_25_meteorologist_nabbed_for_drunk_driving/srvc=home&position=0 and http://www.boston.com/ae/celebrity/more_names/blog/2009/02/poor_visibility.html

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