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.

MASSACHUSETS OUI AND OTHER ALCOHOL-RELATED CRIMES ARE NOW GIVEN SPECIAL ATTENTION

Attention Massachusetts Drunk Drivers! The criminal justice spotlight is looking for you!

The Commonwealth has announced that it is stepping up the enforcement of liquor laws. Of course this includes keeping an eye on drivers who may have had a bit too many, but that is not all that is being allegedly watched this time. The liquor laws are being monitored at the proverbial “watering holes” serving the intoxicating substance.

The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission will be focusing its attention on restaurants and bars in Massachusetts by making sure they are following laws against serving intoxicated or underage patrons. Likewise, one would imagine that there will be folks watching liquor stores to make sure that the younger among us are not being allowed to purchase such beverages.

The hope is that strong enforcement of these laws will prevent tragedies before they happen. Authorities also point out that well over half of all arrests for impaired driving involve individuals who had been drinking at bars.

The holiday crackdown, in conjunction with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, began after Thanksgiving and will continue through New Year’s Eve

Attorney Sam’s Take on Interaction With Law Enforcement Oversight

“Sam, is this really something new?”

No, of course not. Especially this time of year. There is always extra police attention on drunk driving and similar alcohol-related offenses.

However, this does not make it any less important to remind you. It also gives me the opportunity to attach another reminder which is worth repeating.

This daily blog has often-times suggested what you should do and what you shouldn’t do if you are being pulled over by the police. In short, you should pull over. We have discussed many cases where folks who might have, at worst, ended up with a drunk driving accusation (which, by the way, could result in an acquittal at trial) decide to take the police on a chase. Inevitably, such drivers lose the race. They also gain additional, usually more serious, criminal charges. In fact, some end up either responsible for someone’s death…or even their own.

As you know, my advice when approached by the investigating officers is to give them the answers that you have to give them (name, license, etc.) and to do what they tell you to do. Politely. It is your best chance to leave the situation as unscathed as possible.

I was having lunch today with a very dear friend who pointed something out that I may not have discussed in this blog often enough. You see, I have discussed the various perspectives of the various players in criminal justice. There is one such very human perspective which is normal and shared by many that has not gotten enough attention..

Fear.

It may not surprise you to hear that there are people who either believe they have, or actually have, been unfairly treated by the police. You can explain why the police do what they do…that they need to do in order to maintain control over a given situation…are very sensitive to having their authority questioned…etc…but that does not change the experience of the person with whom they are interacting.

One would hope that officers who are trained and/or experienced, realize that they are the professional ones in the interaction. One would expect that they would understand how the other folks feel…realize that such people might actually be afraid of the police at such times. After all, Officers often gain control by intimidation. They are good at it. They have the guns. They have the power.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that over one quarter century of handling criminal cases has shown me that any such recognition on the part of officers is not the case. Understanding the reality that police officers often inspire fear in the heart of the innocent seems not to exist. Likewise, when an officer turns a matter over to the district attorney, that fear is usually likewise ignored.

There seems to be an understanding among law enforcement types that those who are not committing a crime have no need and so do not fear the police. This is why, for example in assault cases, the person who calls the police first is considered the “victim” and the opponent is generally soon to be a criminal defendant.

“If that person was really the victim…why didn’t he contact the police first?”, is something often heard in the couthouses of Justice.

There are plenty of times when police officers are unduly harsh in their treatment of civilians who are guilty of no more than being intimidated by them. And people react differently to such fear.

A person who has been physically assaulted by police officers, and then told it was their fault, for example, tend to wonder if an officer’s next move is going to be physically abusive. This is not mere speculation. It is, too often, fact.

Unfortunately there is little to be done about this sad reality except to follow what I have been telling you. Unless and until folks in positions of power begin to admit the realities they see and hear about almost daily, this problem will persist. Therefore, I have to tell you that the weight of the situation is on you. The civilian
You, unfortunately, have the burden to make sure that law enforcement is aware that they have nothing to fear from you. Further, you need to communicate that you are not going to “screw with” them by trying to invent stories that will serve to anger them and bring more evidence against you at trial.

It is not merely showing respect for the officers. It is self-preservation.

Unfair? Yes. But it is reality. Just as it is reality that our law enforcement politicians have the unmitigated gall to throw up their hands in “confusion” as to why so many civilians neither trust nor respect many police officers.

But that is an issue for another day.

When you are stopped by the police, stop. Comply. And then, at the earliest possible moment, retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

That is when you will be out of danger and the rights you believe you have will truly be respected.

For the original article upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1061178925&srvc=rss

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