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.

Articles Posted in Traffic Violations

When a police officer stops your vehicle on suspicion of OUI, he or she will likely initiate a series of tests to determine if the suspicion is accurate. The officer will observe your eyes, your speech, and your overall demeanor. He or she will ask questions, such as have you had anything to drink.” If the officer believes there is probable cause, you will likely be asked to step out of the vehicle to perform a field sobriety test. You may also be asked to submit to a breath or blood test. These tests are performed to gather evidence, and any information obtained will be used against you in an OUI case. As such, it’s important to know your rights if you are ever stopped after having a few drinks.

 

  • Ask for a lawyer. There is very little information that you are required to give to police during an OUI stop. You must provide basic identifying information, such as your name and address, driver’s license and registration. But even a question such as have you had anything to drink tonight doesn’t require a response. Your best bet is to remain calm and courteous, and to politely ask to speak to your lawyer before answering any questions. A skilled Boston OUI defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been pulled over on suspicion of OUI.

 

  • Do not submit to the field sobriety test. Ok, before we move forward it’s important to note the following – you do have to get out of the vehicle if the officer asks you to do so. You do not, however, have to answer the officer’s questions or perform a field sobriety test. If asked to get out of your vehicle, do so politely, and then inform the officer that you do not wish to perform the field sobriety test, and that you would like to speak to your lawyer immediately. Field sobriety tests are designed to produce failures. People who are completely sober frequently fail these tests. Without the evidence of a failed field sobriety test, proving that you’re guilty becomes quite the hurdle.

 

Are there Consequences of Refusing a Field Sobriety test?

Well, refusal of a field sobriety test doesn’t carry the official consequences of refusing a breath test (we’ll talk about those shortly), but refusing a field sobriety test is a relatively surefire way of getting arrested. The same could be said for submitting to the test, however. In many ways, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t…but for one major exception; a failed field sobriety test may lead you to jail and – most likely – a conviction. A refused test may lead you to jail, but you’ll have a significantly better chance of having your OUI charge dismissed without that evidence to substantiate the charge.

Can I Refuse the Breathalyzer?

Breath and blood tests are an entirely different story. In MA, refusing a breath test carries an automatic 180-day license suspension. That being said, it may still be in your best interest to refuse the breath test. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this problem. Your best course of action is to contact an experienced MA OUI defense attorney immediately if you find yourself in this situation. Continue reading

Also known as “hit and run,” leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident is a criminal offense. A hit and run doesn’t have to involve injuries, but penalties are likely to be much more severe if someone is injured. Although it’s never a good idea to leave the scene of an accident, people are prone to use poor judgement in the heat of the moment. Unfortunately, fleeing the scene can elevate potential penalties from strictly financial to criminal. Fortunately, multiple defenses are available to protect the rights of individuals charged with this offense.

Potential Defenses to a Hit and Run Charge

Leaving the scene of the accident is a crime, but things aren’t always what they seem. Maybe you didn’t even realize you had hit another vehicle. The following scenarios are common challenges against hit and run charges.

If you’re driving through Quincy, you may want to think twice before picking up your smart phone or other handheld device. Effective Friday, April 6, Quincy’s police department has launched a crackdown on distracted driving as part of a larger, statewide effort to make MA highways safer. Quincy police will be looking for distracted drivers, and issuing tickets to those who are using handheld devices while behind the wheel.

The MA Executive Office of Public Safety and Security recently awarded a grant in the amount of $20,000 to the Quincy Police Department. At least part of the funds, which are earmarked for 2017 traffic enforcement operations, will go toward the campaign against distracted driving. Braintree, Norwell, and Weymouth are also taking part in the larger, statewide campaign. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver.

“Our goal is keeping all road users in our community safe,” said Quincy police Capt. John Dougan. “If you text, dial or read a message on your phone while driving, you are endangering the lives of those around you, and you will be stopped. Using our community’s crash data, our officers will determine where the majority of crashes occur and focus their patrols in those areas.”

It’s Against the Law

Writing, reading, or sending electronic messages while driving is against the law in Massachusetts. The same goes for using apps or otherwise “browsing” the internet. And you don’t have to be moving to get busted; it’s just as illegal to text when you’re sitting at a traffic light as when you’re doing 60 down the highway. If you’re under 18 and behind the wheel, all use of electronic devices is prohibited, even making or answering a phone call. If a distracted driver has caused you physical harm or financial loss, a MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to recover damages.

What’s the Penalty?

If you’re caught illegally using an electronic device while driving, you may receive a fine of up to $500. And drivers under 18 could lose their license for up to one year. “It’s something that we are always looking for, but this specific campaign will add extra officers and time devoted strictly to distracted driving enforcement throughout the month of April,” said Quincy police Sgt. Karyn Barkas.

Distracted Driving Statistics

In the United States, more than eight people are killed due to a distracted driver every day. Texting is likely the most dangerous form of distracted driving as it involves every type of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive. But anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road, from using a navigation system to eating, can be a distraction while driving.

  • According to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million motor vehicle crashes annually are a result of cell phone use.
  • One out of every four car crashes in this country is caused by texting while driving.
  • In a recent AAA poll, 94 percent of teen drivers are aware of the dangers of texting while driving, yet 35 percent admit that they do it anyway.
  • Teens are four times more likely than their adult counterparts to be involved in motor vehicle crashes while texting or talking on a cell phone.

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Driving on a suspended license is a crime in MA, but we understand that the decision to do so is often for very practical reasons. Maybe you had to pick up one of your kids, or drive to an interview. The decision to drive on a suspended license isn’t a good one, but it doesn’t make you a bad person either. A MA defense lawyer can help you manage the damage if you’ve been charged with driving on a suspended license.

Driver’s licenses can be suspended or revoked for a variety of reasons, including driving under the influence, littering, or having an outstanding warrant. If your license is suspended, don’t drive. But if you already failed to heed that advice, there are several defenses that may be available to you. The underlying offense that resulted in your suspension, and prior criminal history will factor heavily in the outcome of your case. If, for example, you have no other criminal history and your license was suspended because you were delinquent on child support payments, you have a better chance of having your charges dropped than if you are a habitual offender whose license was suspended for reckless driving while under the influence of drugs.

Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License

If you are convicted of operating on a suspended or revoked license, the factors mentioned above will come into play. However, the penalties below provide a good idea of the fines and possible jail time you may be facing.

  • First offense: A maximum of 10 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Second offense: Up to one year in jail.
  • Habitual offender: Up to two years in a state prison, and up to $5,000 in fines.

In addition to the above penalties, your driver’s license may be suspended for additional time, or it may be revoked altogether.

“I Didn’t Know My License Was Suspended”

It is absolutely possible for people to have a suspended license without knowing it. In fact, it happens all the time. Maybe you have an out of state license, or you recently moved. You may have missed a notification that your license was to be suspended for too many speeding tickets or unpaid tolls, for example. Not knowing that your license is suspended is not a defense by itself. However, if it can be shown that you truly were unaware of the suspension, and the other factors surrounding your offense are not severe, a Boston defense lawyer can use this as a way to mitigate the damage. In many cases, a skilled lawyer can get the charges dropped completely.

What if Your License Was Revoked?

If you get caught driving on a revoked license, the penalties are generally more serious. In the majority of cases, you will face mandatory jail time for this offense. This is especially true if the revocation was for a 5th OUI offense. Don’t make the mistake of hiring just any lawyer if you’ve been charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license. Your decision could be the difference between time behind bars and a complete dismissal of charges. Continue reading

It’s common knowledge that getting behind the wheel when you’re intoxicated is a bad idea. But determining whether you’ve had too much to drink isn’t always as cut and dried. In Massachusetts, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent is above the legal limit. If a large man has three drinks with dinner, his BAC may be the same as that of a small woman who has one drink on an empty stomach. Without a breath or blood test, it’s impossible to know. Therefore, it’s always wise to err on the side of caution. If you’re going to drink, designate a sober driver. And if you think getting an OUI is no big deal, read on. The potential consequences of an OUI conviction may change your mind.

Consequence #1: Fines and Fees

Even for a first offense, you will likely find yourself paying fines and license reinstatement fees if you are convicted of an OUI. Fines range from $500 to $5,000, depending on the circumstances of your conviction, and you may have to pay a license reinstatement fee of up to $1,200. For a second offense, the fine can be as high as $10,000 and you may be out of pocket for up to $15,000 if convicted of a third offense.

Consequence #2: Jail Time

If this is your first offense, you probably won’t see time behind bars unless aggravating circumstances deem it necessary. But it’s a different story for second and subsequent offenses. For a second offense, you’re looking at between 30 days and two-and-a-half years in jail. For third and subsequent offenses, you could actually be sent to prison for up to five years.

Consequence #3: Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

Some first-time offenders get slapped with this requirement, but it’s mandatory for second and subsequent offenders. The installation of an IID requires the driver to blow into a device with alcohol-free breath before the engine of his or her car will start, and at periodic intervals while driving. In addition to being a hassle – and a bit embarrassing on a date – IIDs aren’t cheap. And guess who gets to pay for the installation? We all make mistakes. If you’ve been charged with an OUI, don’t make another one – consult with an experienced OUI defense attorney right away.

Consequence #4: License Suspension

From first-timers to serial-OUI offenders, everyone faces a license suspension. If it’s your first offense, you’re looking at up to 90 days without wheels. For second offenders, the suspension increases to two years, and it skyrockets to eight years for the third offense. Fourth offenders may have their license permanently revoked.

Having an OUI on your record is no laughing matter. This can impact future job and housing applications, as well as send your car insurance rates through the roof. In addition to the consequences above, you will likely be required to enroll in an alcohol education program at your expense. The bottom line is, OUI charges are serious. Your best line of defense if charged with an OUI is to consult with an experienced OUI defense attorney immediately. A skilled attorney can be the difference between dismissed charges and time behind bars. Don’t let a mistake ruin your life. Continue reading

There are two types of warrants in Massachusetts, arrest warrants and bench warrants. A bench warrant is generally the less serious of the two. These are issued for multiple reasons, including failure to show up at a court hearing or failure to pay child support. Arrest warrants are usually reserved for more serious criminal cases. In the case of a bench warrant, police don’t usually search out and arrest the defendant, but bench warrants are serious matters and should be handled as such. If a bench warrant is issued against you, your name will be entered into a database that can be accessed by all law enforcement at any time. In addition to fines, a bench warrant can put you behind bars. If you have an outstanding warrant, contact a Boston criminal defense attorney today.

You Can’t Hide From a Warrant

Although bench warrants don’t usually result in an active search, they often end up in an arrest. This is because any dealings with the police – even a minor fender bender for which you’re not at fault – can reveal the bench warrant. If a bench warrant remains unresolved, it can also result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Further, you will not be able to renew an expired license until the matter is resolved.

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor offense in MA, you have the right to a clerk magistrate hearing prior to the issuance of a criminal complaint. At this hearing, the clerk magistrate will examine the facts of your case to determine if a criminal complaint should be issued, or if you should pay fines or penalties. Many people incorrectly assume that because no criminal charges have been filed, it is unnecessary to have a lawyer present at a clerk magistrate hearing. With the help of a skilled Boston defense attorney, however, you have a much better chance of avoiding criminal charges than if you try to go it alone.

What Can I Expect at a Clerk Magistrate Hearing?

Clerk magistrate hearings are sometimes referred to as probable cause hearings because that is the point of the initial review of potential criminal charges – to determine if there is probable cause to file a criminal complaint. To lessen your chances of a negative outcome, familiarize yourself with the process below:

You’ve just discovered that you have an outstanding warrant in Massachusetts – what do you do? It may be a bench warrant, which is typically issued when you fail to pay a fine or miss a court date. Or maybe it’s an arrest warrant for something more serious, such as drug possession or assault. In either case, the last thing you want to do with a warrant is to ignore it. With any type of warrant, police officers can pick you up at any time, at which point you will most likely be placed in custody. Proactively dealing with the warrant, however, can greatly improve your outcome.

Never Ignore a Warrant

Once you’ve learned that you have an outstanding warrant, step one is to contact a Boston criminal defense attorney. A warrant is one thing that will never go away until it’s dealt with. Furthermore, warrants can come back to haunt you. Even a bench warrant for failing to pay child support can become a permanent mark on your criminal record. In future bail hearings or court dates, the prosecution will use those marks against you to build a case against your character. Time heals all wounds, but not when it comes to warrants. Even if you manage to dodge an outstanding warrant for several years or move out of state, sooner or later it will catch up to you.

Massachusetts is cracking down on people who drive without auto insurance. The penalties are severe. But can you be arrested for driving without insurance? The short answer is, it depends. In the state of MA, individuals who are caught driving a motor vehicle without the required minimum coverage may face numerous penalties and fines. Whether they see jail time or not depends on several factors, namely if it is their first offense or a second or subsequent conviction. If you’ve been charged with driving without insurance, contact a Boston defense attorney today.

Is this your first offense?

If it is, you will likely be subject to a 60-day license suspension and a fine of up to $500. You may also be required to pay an upfront premium for one year of motor vehicle insurance at the highest rate class. The premium payment is used to counteract potential collection costs, among other things, such as programs to reduce fraud and arson.

Is this your second or subsequent offense?

If this isn’t your first offense, you will likely lose your license for up to one year, and may face fines of up to $5,000. Even worse, you may spend some time behind bars. Second and subsequent convictions may result in up to one year in a state prison. The bottom line is, driving without insurance can have a seriously negative impact on your life. You can end up in jail, in a financial hole, and with a record – all because you operated a motor vehicle without adequate insurance coverage.

Did you cause an accident?

If you were involved in an accident while driving without insurance, you will likely face stiffer penalties than those mentioned above. This is especially true if your accident resulted in property damage or bodily injury. In addition to penalties, fines, and the potential for extended jail time, causing property damage or physical harm while driving uninsured also makes you financially responsible for the damages. If you don’t have the funds to pay another person’s medical bills and property damage expenses, you should avoid driving without insurance. But sometimes hindsight is 20/20. Of course, if you were engaged in other criminal activity at the time of the offense, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the penalties and fines will increase accordingly.

Consult with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

The good news is, in any of the above situations, the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney can make all the difference in the world. Multiple defenses exist to assist people facing these types of charges; and with knowledgeable representation, you may see your charges reduced, or dropped altogether. If you’ve been charged with driving without insurance, contact a Boston criminal defense lawyer today. Continue reading

At approximately 4:00 am on Thursday, January 23rd, Miami police arrested Justin Bieber for driving under the influence, drag racing, resisting arrest, and driving with a suspended license. The now-infamous ‘Baby’ singer admitted that he had taken prescription drugs, smoked marijuana and consumed alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel of his yellow Lamborghini. He was jailed briefly after a police officer witnessed the alleged drag race.

Drinking and driving, reckless endangerment, and driving with a suspended license are all serious crimes the privileged popstar believes he should not serve time for. CNN reported that Bieber was “cocky” and “insulting” when Miami police tried to give him simple instructions. He was profane and belligerent. Instead of acting remorseful or apologetic, Bieber paraded around the tropics and showboated via social media.
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