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

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

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

There are multiple reasons for getting your license suspended, from unpaid parking tickets to excessive moving violations, neither of which is a criminal offense. But if you made the decision to drive during your license suspension, you may be facing criminal charges in Massachusetts. Even quick runs to the store or to pick up a friend are not a safe bet on a suspended license. You can be stopped for multiple reasons, even without a moving violation. In addition, law enforcement has a tool called an automatic license plate reader (ALPR) that can read your license plate and determine license status and car ownership.

If you are facing criminal charges for driving on a suspended license, you may be worried about potential penalties and fines, including an extended suspension and possible jail time. These are very real possibilities, but with the help of a skilled Boston criminal defense attorney, you have the best chance of a positive outcome. Saying you didn’t know your license was suspended is not a good defense. However, it is possible to miss a notification. If the judge believes you are sincere, your chances of avoiding further penalties is significantly improved.

What are the Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License?

The type and severity of the penalties you face depends on several factors, such as whether this is your first offense. If this is the first time you’ve been charged with driving on a suspended license, you may face fines of up to $500 and jail time of up to 10 days. If this is your second or subsequent offense, you may spend up to a year behind bars. In addition, the reason that your license was suspended in the first place may affect your charges. For example, if your suspension was due to driving under the influence, a mandatory 60-day jail sentence will follow.

Driving on a Revoked License

If your license was permanently revoked and you got caught driving, the charges may be far more serious. In most cases, you will face a mandatory jail sentence. In all 50 states, your driver’s license can be revoked for multiple DUI convictions, and for the accumulation of a certain number of “countable” violations. Your driver’s license can also be revoked for driving on a suspended license. The violations below can result in a license revocation, but the first offense typically only results in a suspension:

  • Driving under the influence (alcohol or drugs)
  • Leaving the scene of an accident where injuries are involved
  • Failure to respond to a traffic summons
  • Reckless driving
  • Drag racing

If you have been charged any of the violations above, contact a Boston defense attorney today. Continue reading

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

There are various periodicals we lawyers read to keep up with not only what is happening system-wide, but also what is up with the rest of the world which we might be missing due to the myopia of our work. One which I quote from often (and thankfully returns the favor from time to time) is the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly . Another is the American Bar Association Journal .  The latter has given me the idea for today’s blog.

According to the Journal, “Pokemon characters are on the loose, and it’s your job to catch and collect them.”

I suppose to those “in the know” that sounds fun. While I don’t know how this works in the “augmented reality” of Pokemon, I do know that not everything that is fun in this world is safe if you would like to keep living in relative freedom.

We are talking about the new “Pokemon Go” app, which uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where you are and make Pokemon characters appear on your phone screens. “The Pokemon characters may be in public places such as parks, beaches and even bathrooms, and players have to go to the locations to find them.”

Sounds safe enough, right?

Well, maybe not so much.

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Now, I know we are in the middle of a three part posting and I owe you the third part. I will post that third part tomorrow. Today, however, something that should be more urgently on your mind.

It could be a drunk driving charge. It could be an allegation of domestic abuse. It could even be an unexpected accusation of rape.

People generally do not venture out expecting to be making an involuntary stop at the local police department before they return home.

But it happens. Especially on holiday weekends.

So, you’d best think about it. When the criminal justice wheels start turning with you inside them, you just might find it harder to think clearly and come up with a plan.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Holiday Police Encounters

Over the holiday weekend of course, court is not open. Therefore, should you end up in police custody, you may have to stay there until Tuesday comes along.

“Isn’t there something I can do about that? I don’t want to spend the weekend in jail.”

 

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