Cara Della Barba is a 28-year-old finance manager at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. If you look at the photo of her in court, you would think she was one of the Boston criminal attorneys. You would not suspect that she is hereinafter referred to as the “Defendant”. But she is.
According to the Commonwealth, as described at her Dorchester District Court arraignment, she was wobbly, glassy-eyed and reeking of booze when she drove the wrong-way and drove into a state police cruiser Saturday. The prosecutor explained that the Defendant’s relationship with the truth at the time was somewhat periodic.
At first, after the accident, the trooper came to her car and told her that she had just smashed into a police car. Her alleged response? She claimed that she had not hit anything. Then, when questioned about alcohol use, she is said to have told the troopers that she had had “a lot to drink” at a friend’s party. She is said to have then begged them to simply take her home.
Apparently, they found another option. They drove her to their (police) house.
At the barracks, Defendant is accused of trying to sabotage her blood-alcohol test by halfheartedly blowing into a Breathalyzer. The troopers marked said attempt down as a “refusal” to take the test, thereby triggering an automatic loss of driver’s license.
The officers’ less-than-generous view of the Defendant went a bit further. Trooper Paul Conneely described that aside from being “highly intoxicated, she had dramatic mood swings. He wrote in his report that “She went from crying and apologetic to belligerent”.
We have discussed many times the wisdom, or lack of it, in making incriminating statements to police when questioned. You may also be aware that to hope that the police officers will simply forget the fact that you appear drunk and just plowed into their car is to be out of touch with reality.
Did you know, though, that you have the right not to participate in field sobriety tests or the Breathalyzer test? Well, you do. True, there are certain penalties. For example, your license is automatically suspended for a time for refusing to take the Breathalyzer test. On the other hand, if you know that you have been drinking, it is a likely bet that, having failed the test, you will have ensured that you will lose your license for even more upon either a guilty finding or even admitting to sufficient facts (as in the case of a continuance without a finding).
I have seen a number of cases in which my client indicates that he or she simply was unable to blow into the Breathalyzer to the officer’s satisfaction. The officers generally mark that off as a refusal. Frankly, attorneys should fight this determination because the fact is that some people, particularly when extremely nervous, have difficulty blowing into it. Few defense attorneys do so, however.
Police officers, in my experience, love to embellish in these types of cases. In this case, reacting as one might expect a younger arrestee with little experience in the criminal justice system triggers an ominous description of having severe mood swings. On the other hand, police officers are human beings. They tend to feel less than charitable to someone they perceive to be a drunk driver who just plowed into their vehicle.
Not to mention then claiming the accident never happened.
By the way, an experienced criminal defense attorney would seek to exploit this at trial. The idea is to suggest that the officer was angry with the Defendant for smashing into them, thereby showing bias. Most officers, however, take the bait and attempt to claim that they are above such bias. They claim not to have been angry. Instead, they indicate that they were simply “concerned” for the drunk driver, not wanting her to hurt herself.
When they do this, they do the cross-examiner the favor of not only demonstrating they had the bias, but that they are willing to lie about it too.
That is…assuming you have such an experienced drunk driving attorney.
If you would like to speak to me about a matter in which its finger of accusation is pointed at you, please free to call me at 617-492-3000 to arrange a free initial consultation..
TOMORROW: Behind The Massachusetts Chaos Known As Carson Beach
To view the articles upon which this blog are based, please go to http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1342062&srvc=rss