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 Vehicular Crimes

Summer is time for relaxation and fun. If you take that fun too far, however, it can result in a number of less-than-fun consequences, including charges for criminal offenses such as OUI, disorderly conduct, or assault. You may even find yourself behind bars. Follow the tips below to have fun, and avoid getting charged with OUI, this summer season.

 

  • No open containers in the car. You don’t need to be drinking to get charged. It is illegal to have an open container in an unlocked compartment of your car. For example, a half-full bottle of rum in the center console, or in the back seat, can get you in big trouble. If you are traveling to a party and taking previously-opened containers of alcohol, make sure that they are all safely stowed in the trunk, where they can’t be reached while the vehicle is in use.

 

  • Zero tolerance for underage drivers. If you are under 21, you can get charged with an OUI offense for any amount of alcohol in your system. In MA, a driver is “over the limit” with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more. But even 0.01 can result in an OUI if you’re under 21. A MA OUI defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’re facing charges for an underage OUI offense.

 

  • Even prescription drugs can lead to an OUI. If drugs – even prescribed medications – impair your ability to drive, you may find yourself facing charges for OUI. And the drugs in question don’t have to be controlled substances such as oxycodone or ADHD meds. Even antihistamines can result in an OUI if they impair your ability to drive safely.

 

  • Have a plan for how to get back to your home or hotel before the night begins. Prior to heading out for the night, talk to your friends and determine your end-of-night plan. Will you walk? Will you call an Uber? Is there a designated driver? And if you’re staying in an unfamiliar location, like a hotel, write down the address in case you aren’t as clear headed at the end of the evening.

 

  • If all else fails, contact your attorney. If you made a mistake and you’re facing OUI charges, a skilled Boston OUI defense attorney can help you fight them. Many OUI stops, especially during the busy summer season, are riddled with errors that can be used to your advantage. For example, a faulty breathalyzer test can result in inaccurately-high readings. It’s important to know your rights; you can refuse to take a breath test. However, there are some serious implications for doing so. Refusing a breath test carries an automatic license suspension of 180 days. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not you should refuse a breath test. If you have no prior OUIs and you passed the field sobriety test, you have a better chance of winning your case if you refused the test than if you took it and failed. But, as with most things in life, there are no guarantees.

Continue reading

Yes. But that doesn’t mean you want to refuse. On the other hand, it also doesn’t mean you should submit to the test. This conflicting advice may leave you feeling a bit confused, but with good reason; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the decision to refuse (or submit to) a breathalyzer test in MA. If you decide to take the test and it reads .08 or higher, you will lose your license for 30 days if it’s your first offense. If you refuse to take the test, however, you will receive an automatic 180-day suspension.

At first glance, it may seem that taking the test is in your best interest. But a failed breathalyzer test is hard evidence to overcome at trial. You have a much better chance of beating an OUI charge if a failed breathalyzer test is not on the table. A Boston OUI defense attorney can help you defend yourself in court, whether you took and failed a breath test or refused the test altogether.

Assess Your Situation

If you refuse the test and a skilled attorney is successful in defending you against the OUI charge, your license will generally be reinstated in less than 180 days. Remember, this favorable outcome is only likely if the circumstances of your case are equally favorable. If, for example, this is your second or subsequent OUI charge, and / or several witnesses claim to have seen you driving recklessly before you were stopped, your chances of success will be seriously limited. However, if this was a first offense and there were no other aggravating circumstances present during your stop or arrest, penalties for refusing the breathalyzer are much more likely to be waived.

In MA, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher is above the legal limit. If your breathalyzer results indicate .08 or above, that evidence will be hard to fight in court. If, however, you refuse the test, there will be no evidence of your BAC at trial, and – even better – the jury will not be made aware of your refusal. If you are found not guilty, your MA OUI defense attorney will file a motion arguing for reinstatement of your license prior to the 180-day period. Unless the prosecution can prove that your license should not be reinstated, you are likely to get it back in relatively short order.

What if I’m Under 21?

If you are 21 or older and you fail a breath test, your license will be suspended for 30 days. That is just the initial suspension; you will likely receive a later suspension if you are found guilty. However, there are some circumstances in which a failed breath test carries an automatic 180-day suspension.

  • If you are between the ages of 18 and 21 and your BAC is .02 or higher, you will lose your license for 30 days plus 180 days. In some cases you can waive this suspension by enrolling in a Youth Alcohol Program (YAP).
  • If you are under the age of 18, you will face a one-year suspension if you fail a breathalyzer. If you enroll in an approved alcohol treatment program, this suspension may be reduced to 180 days.

This may seem like an easy choice – I’ll lose my license for 180 days no matter what, so I might as well refuse the test, right? But the reality is, it’s not that simple. Although a failed breath test has an extended suspension if you are under 21, so does a refusal. If you are under 21 and you refuse a breathalyzer, your license will automatically be suspended for three years.

What if this isn’t My First OUI?

Things get a bit more complicated with second and subsequent OUIs. If you’ve previously been convicted of one OUI, a breathalyzer refusal carriers an automatic three-year suspension. And if you have two previous convictions, that increases to five years. If this is your third or subsequent conviction, a refusal will result in a lifetime suspension. Continue reading

Although the reason has yet to be determined, motorcycle thefts rose two percent in 2016. Maybe it’s because they look cool, or maybe they’re just easier to steal than other motor vehicles. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has released statistics that provide more information about where these thefts are most prevalent, and what may be behind the increase. A MA defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with motorcycle theft.

Top 10 Cities for Motorcycle Theft

Of the top 10 cities mentioned in the NICB report, nine are located in warm climates. This isn’t a big surprise, given that more bikes are purchased in warmer-climate areas, and they are generally on the road for more months each year in these places. However, the only city on the list with a cold climate in winter months also happens to be the city with the highest number of motorcycle thefts – New York City. The top 10 cities were:

  • New York City (1,209)
  • San Diego (849)
  • Las Vegas (818)
  • Los Angeles (760)
  • San Francisco (616)
  • Miami (610)
  • Houston (607)
  • San Antonio (411)
  • Phoenix (347)
  • Austin (343)

Not surprisingly, motorcycle thefts in NYC were highest in August and lowest in February, further proof that Mother Nature plays a significant role in motorcycle thefts.

When the NICB looked at motorcycle theft by state, the leaders were California, Florida and Texas. Looking at the city stats above, this doesn’t come as a surprise. However, numbers four and five on that list were South Carolina and North Carolina, respectively. Considering that population isn’t as robust in these states, some researchers are left scratching their heads. Yes, both North and South Carolina have warmer climates, but so do many other states with worse records of overall crime.

When Temperatures Drop, So Does Crime

Maybe New England’s brutal winters do have some very real benefits. But motorcycle thefts do still occur here; in 2015, 34 bikes were stolen in MA. A Boston defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with any type of theft.

What’s Behind the Increase?

Theft of motorcycles had been declining for nine years when it increased in 2015, and then again in 2016. According to the NICB’s Frank Scafidi, it is easier to steal a motorcycle. “Stealing a bike is much easier than stealing a car simply because of its size,” said Scafidi. “If you have your bike all chained up and covered with all kinds of immobilizing technology, it can still be picked up with a fork lift, loaded into a pickup truck and taken away.” And with car anti-theft systems becoming more sophisticated every day, motorcycles are increasingly an easier option.

Unfortunately for bike owners, the recovery rate tends to be lower than the recovery rate for cars. This is largely due to the fact that bikes are frequently “chopped” for individual parts. Of the 46,467 motorcycles stolen in 2016, only about 18,000 were recovered.

Penalties for Motorcycle Theft in MA

Considering that most motorcycles are valued at more than $250, motorcycle theft is classified as grand larceny in MA. A felony charge, grand larceny carries a penalty of up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $25,000. 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.

Continue reading

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

In Massachusetts, if you fatally injure another person while recklessly or negligently operating a motor vehicle, you may be charged with vehicular homicide. The severity of the charges you’re facing will be largely dependent on the unique circumstances of your case. For example, if you were committing a minor, misdemeanor offense when the accident occurred – such as speeding – you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor offense. If you were intoxicated at the time, however, the charge may be elevated to a felony offense. A skilled MA criminal defense attorney can help you determine the next steps if you are facing these serious charges.

Misdemeanor Vehicular Homicide

Although serious, penalties for this charge are dramatically different from that of a felony offense. If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, you may face the following penalties and fines:

  • Mandatory 30 days in jail
  • Up to two-and-a-half years in jail
  • Up to $3,000 in fines
  • Up to a 15 year license loss

Vehicular Homicide Involving Drugs or Alcohol

If you kill someone while driving drunk, you don’t need to have been driving recklessly to get convicted of vehicular homicide. However, fatal accidents caused by a drunk or drugged driver typically involve some level of reckless driving. If you were intoxicated and driving recklessly when the fatal accident occurred, you will likely be charged with a felony offense. The penalties for this type of crime include:

  • Mandatory one year in jail
  • Up to 15 years in a state prison
  • Up to $5,000 in fines
  • Minimum license suspension of 15 years

To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove that you were above the legal limit at the time of the accident. If they cannot do that, beyond a reasonable doubt, a felony charge is not likely. This is where having a skilled MA OUI attorney can make all the difference in the world.

Vehicular Manslaughter

If you kill someone while driving drunk or drugged, you may also be charged with vehicular manslaughter, which is essentially the same as vehicular homicide involving drugs or alcohol, but the prison penalties are more severe. If convicted of vehicular manslaughter, you will face a mandatory five year prison sentence, and you could be behind bars for up to 20 years. Fines are also increased, at a max of up to $25,000.

As you can see, vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges are quite serious. Whether you’re in jail for 30 days or in prison for 20 years may rest largely in the skill and experience of your legal counsel. Don’t make the mistake of hiring the wrong attorney when it comes to vehicular homicide. Remember, an intent to kill is not necessary for a successful conviction. The prosecution only has to prove that your reckless or negligent driving resulted in the death of another. 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

In MA, the act of stealing a vehicle may be classified as motor vehicle theft, carjacking, or joyriding. Vehicle theft is costlier than all other property crimes combined. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a total of 721,053 vehicles were stolen in 2012, accounting for a nationwide loss of $4.3 billion.

Motor vehicle Theft:

You may be charged with motor vehicle theft if you steal a vehicle or any part of a vehicle, if you intentionally damage a vehicle, or if you take control of a vehicle that you know is stolen. If you are facing charges for vehicle theft, it is in your best interest to consult with a Boston vehicle theft lawyer as soon as possible.

A recent report issued by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety titled “Unlicensed to Kill” focuses on unlicensed drivers on America’s roadways. According to the report, approximately one out of every five fatal vehicle crashes involves an unlicensed driver, or a driver whose license is in question by law enforcement. The report goes on to say that about 8,500 fatal car accidents are caused by unlicensed drivers annually. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving an unlicensed driver.

The Link Between Fatal Crashes and Unlicensed Drivers

Research has revealed that individuals with license suspensions and cancellations are more likely to use excessive speed, drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and to be distracted while driving. Of the fatal accidents caused by unlicensed drivers, about 30 percent are caused by drivers who have had at least three license suspensions or cancellations in the previous three years. “It’s like a revolving door. These people are being suspended and suspended and suspended again, and still, they’re driving,” said Lindsay I. Griffin, researcher at the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University.Young adults, between the ages of 21 and 34, are the most likely to have a revoked or suspended license. Most disturbing, in nearly 50 percent of the fatal accidents involving an unlicensed driver, the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

No License, No Insurance

Drivers without valid licenses are not eligible for motor vehicle insurance, which means that recovering damages in an accident involving an unlicensed driver is more difficult. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can be added to your existing insurance policy to protect you against extreme losses. This type of coverage will cover full or partial damages if you’re in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have liability insurance, or whose liability limit is too low to cover your expenses. If you don’t already carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, it is in your best interest to add this coverage to your existing policy today. The cost is generally quite small, but it could make a world of difference if you’re involved in an accident with an this type of driver.

How to Avoid an Accident Involving an Unlicensed Driver

It’s impossible to identify unlicensed drivers while you’re driving, so how do you avoid a collision with one of these unlawful drivers? The best way to avoid an accident with any negligent motorist is to always remain alert when driving. Stay focused on the road and avoid distractions, such as texting or talking on the phone, adjusting the stereo or navigation system, and eating or applying makeup. Defensive driving is the single best protection against car crashes. Maintain plenty of distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you, drive at or under the speed limit, and avoid vehicles that appear to be speeding or driving erratically. Continue reading

Contact Information