Articles Posted in Vehicular Crimes

Since 2010, it has been illegal to text while driving in MA. And although drivers in MA were still permitted to talk on their cell phones for the next six years, a complete ban on the use of hand-held devices while driving was passed in 2016. The ban not only applies to cell phones; drivers are prohibited from entering information into a GPS, or any other hand-held device.

Currently, the fines for violating this law are $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense, and $500 for the third offense.

“Although traffic accidents and deaths are dropping, the number of accidents that are caused involving cell phones are going up,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst. “A lot of people’s lives are being put in danger as a result of people who are using their cell phones, and it’s just time to sweep that source of problem off the table here.”

And make no mistake, police are enforcing these laws. A MA motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Fines Aren’t the Only Potential Consequence of Texting While Driving

Getting stopped for texting while driving often leads to other violations of safe driving laws. In fact, this is a likely motivation for police to stop a driver that they suspect of texting. The distracted driver might also be intoxicated, driving recklessly, or in possession of drugs or an illegal firearm. Other potential consequences of texting while driving include:

  • An increase in insurance premiums. Many insurance carriers use points for texting while driving to raise premiums.
  • Criminal penalties. If texting while driving leads to serious injury or death, the driver may face criminal charges.
  • A guilty conscience. Just think about the guilt you would feel if someone was seriously injured or killed while you were texting something as insignificant as “see you soon.”

Texting while driving can be devastating for everyone involved. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Distracted Driving Statistics

Hundreds of thousands of people are injured in distracted-driving accidents in the United States each year. The statistics below illustrate the severity of this growing problem.

  • According to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million annual crashes involve cell phone use.
  • Texting while driving leads to 390,000 injuries annually.
  • One out of every four motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. involves texting.
  • You are six times more likely to have an accident due to texting than driving drunk.
  • Responding to a text typically diverts your attention from the road for at least five seconds.
  • Texting is the most dangerous of all cellphone-related activities.
  • According to a AAA poll, 35% of teens admit to texting while driving, even though 94 percent acknowledge it’s dangerous.
  • In 21 percent of fatal teen driving accidents, a cell phone was involved.
  • Teens are four times more likely than their adult counterparts to get into texting-related accidents.

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Earlier this year, an Arizona woman was killed when she was struck by an Uber self-driving test vehicle. Elaine Herzberg was crossing a Tempe street with her bicycle when the tragic accident occurred. In response, Uber immediately pulled all self-driving test vehicles from cities nationwide.

Although the Uber test vehicle was in autonomous (self-driving) mode when the fatal crash occurred, there was a human operator behind the wheel in case of an emergency. According to the Tempe Police Department, Rafaela Vasquez was watching Hulu when she was supposed to be watching the road. Police also commented that the crash was “entirely avoidable.”

Was it Criminal?

Tempe police were able to obtain records from the online service that was monitoring the autonomous Uber. Records showed that Vasquez was streaming “The Voice” for approximately 40 minutes, stopping at exactly 9:59 p.m., which also happens to be the “approximate time of the collision.” In addition, police say she took her eyes off the road for nearly seven of the 22 minutes leading up to the collision.

These findings were submitted to prosecutors, and criminal charges—such as vehicular manslaughter—may follow. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with vehicular manslaughter or any other crime.

What is Vehicular Manslaughter?

The definition and penalties vary somewhat from state to state, but manslaughter is generally defined as the non-premeditated killing of one person by another. In MA, vehicular manslaughter falls under one of two categories—involuntary manslaughter or motor vehicle homicide.

  • Involuntary manslaughter occurs when an individual unintentionally kills another while engaged in some form of reckless or wanton conduct. Reckless driving that leads to the death of another could be charged as involuntary manslaughter. In MA, punishment for involuntary manslaughter can be up to 20 years imprisonment.
  • Motor vehicle homicide, on the other hand, usually involves driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In MA, all motor vehicle homicide convictions carry a 15-year license suspension, up to a lifetime revocation (if you have a prior OUI conviction). If convicted of motor vehicle homicide, you may be facing up to 15 years in prison.

Wrongful Death

In addition to potential criminal charges, a civil wrongful death claim may be brought against both Vasquez and Uber. Although Uber has not commented, the ride-share giant claimed to be initiating a “top-to-bottom safety review” last month.

“We continue to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations while conducting our own internal safety review,” said an Uber spokeswoman. “We have a strict policy prohibiting mobile device usage for anyone operating our self-driving vehicles. We plan to share more on the changes we’ll make to our program soon.” A MA criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with a crime.

Although three drivers have been killed in Tesla Autopilot vehicles since 2016, the death of Elaine Herzberg was the first non-driver fatality involving a self-driving vehicle. Continue reading

Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs is a criminal offense with serious penalties in MA. But if you are arrested for OUI with a child in the car, those penalties are likely to be significantly harsher. You may even face additional charges. Case in point – a West Virginia woman is facing felony charges for child neglect following her drunk driving arrest; she had an 18-month old in the car with her at the time of the arrest.

Getting an OUI conviction with a child in the car typically carries more serious consequences. As with all criminal offenses, however, penalties vary widely based on a variety of factors. If you have no prior criminal history and you were barely above the legal limit, for example, you will likely face a lesser charge than an individual with a criminal history and high blood alcohol content (BAC). If you have previously been convicted of multiple OUIs, you may be facing a felony charge, even without having a child in the car. But the presence of a child will almost certainly result in more serious charges.

To be safe, you should never drink and drive, especially with children in the car. But if you make a mistake, it is in your best interest to hire a Boston criminal defense attorney immediately.

OUI with Child Endangerment

In 2005, it became a separate criminal offense to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol with a child under 14 in the car. It was enacted as part of Melanie’s Law, legislation intended to enhance OUI-related penalties. If you have been charged with OUI with child endangerment, you may be facing the following penalties:

  • First offense – Up to two-and-a-half years in jail, with a minimum of 90 days. Fines of up to $5,000 and a one-year license suspension.
  • Second and subsequent offenses – Up to two-and-a-half years in jail, with a minimum of six months. Fines of up to $10,000 and a three-year license suspension.

If your actions place a child in danger of physical or emotional harm – whether negligently or intentionally – child endangerment charges may follow. In addition, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) may get involved to assess whether it would be in the children’s best interests to be removed from the home and placed in foster care.

A DCF investigation may also occur if no children were present in the car at the time of your arrest. If DCF believes that your actions may jeopardize the health and safety of your children, they can conduct an investigation even if your offense didn’t directly involve a child. In either case, it is essential to seek the help of experienced legal counsel. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you have been charged with OUI with child endangerment or any other crime.  Continue reading

Hello again! How was your holiday weekend?

Well, the chances are that it was better than that of Sean Ingram, the 64-year-old retiring fire fighter in Boston and hereinafter, the “Defendant”. He is the gentleman who was arrested Thursday night after “ purposefully crashing into a state police vehicle and calling troopers “Nazis” while failing field sobriety tests”, according to WCVB ,

It was one day prior to his reaching the mandatory retirement age according to the fire department. Instead He was scheduled to retire, instead the day was spent in an Arraignment and fighting to be released on $500 bail on various motor vehicle crimes.

It was the reportedly the Defendant’s second OUI.

It was State Trooper Brendan Murphy who first pulled the Defendant’s vehicle over on the Expressway. The stated cause for the stop was reportedly that the officer had noticed damage on Ingram’s front bumper.

In his arrest report, Murphy wrote that he instructed the Defendant to pull off the highway and then returned to his own vehicle. Murphy then noted that the Defendant sped away at a high speed and swerved between lanes before exiting onto Gallivan Boulevard, stopping in front of the Walgreens. The Defendant is said to have then put his vehicle into reverse and accelerated into the front of the trooper’s cruiser.

Trooper Murphy went on to describe how he asked the Defendant if he was ok and that the Defendant shouted, “’No,’ and began yelling how I rear-ended him. I explained to him that he reversed into my cruiser, which he intensely called me a loser and began to become belligerent.”

Apparently, the trooper called for back-up. “When I reached the open window, I immediately detected the strong odor of an alcoholic beverage,” Sgt. Kevin Murray wrote in his report on the arrest. He described the Defendant as becoming “very belligerent” and “raising his voice and swearing” when asked about what had happened. He reported that the Defendant had told him that “he had attended the Bruins hockey game earlier that evening and that he had consumed some alcohol”.

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Interestingly, Has on the front page of its website this little story.  The story is actually from 2013 according to the byline, but it is really too good a story to pass up.

In my last two postings, we spoke about defendants who make statements to law enforcement. This is a tale about a gent who, not only apparently made a full confession to the officers, but went so far as to make sure they had enough evidence to convict him of any Massachusetts motor vehicle crimes.

Must be one of those “law and order” types…kinda sorta.

Norwood police say that they stopped the unnamed gentleman (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) during a particular driving spree. The spree included driving more than 100 miles per hour in a 45-mile-per-hour zone on busy Route 1 on a Friday night.

The Defendant was pulled over at around 10 p.m. . He is said to have told police that he knew he was being pulled over for speeding and that he was going “at least a buck’’ (a/k/a100 miles per hour).

He apparently also explained that he was using one hand to drive and one hand to capture video of his speedometer to show how fast his car could go to potential buyers

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There are a number of ways to lose your driving privileges in MA. From excessive traffic violations to an OUI conviction, reasons for suspension can vary widely. Fortunately, some MA drivers who lose their license will qualify for something called a hardship license. A hardship license allows the individual to drive, but only for approved reasons, and only under limited circumstances. Generally speaking, a hardship license allows people to drive to and from school and / or work.

Do I Qualify?

As stated above, there are many ways to lose your license. Whether or not you qualify for a hardship license will be largely dependent on several factors, including:\

  • the reason for your suspension or revocation,
  • how long your license has been suspended,
  • your previous driving record, and
  • whether your suspension is based on refusal of a chemical test or breath test.

Habitual Traffic Offenders and individuals with OUI convictions are generally eligible for a hardship license. If your suspension is due to refusal of a chemical or breath test you may still be eligible for a hardship license. To qualify under such circumstances, you must be enrolled in the 24D (first offender’s) program. Without enrollment in this program, the hardship license will be denied. It’s important to note that if your license has been suspended for refusing a chemical or breath test, you are entitled to a hearing within 15 days of the suspension. A Boston OUI defense attorney can help you protect your rights, and possibly get the refusal suspension overturned, at your hearing.

What Does a Hardship License Allow?

If you receive a hardship license after a suspension or revocation in MA, you will be allowed to operate a motor vehicle during the same 12-hour period each day. If you are found to be driving outside of that 12-hour period, you may receive a citation or even be arrested. Although the hardship license is primarily intended to allow you to drive to and from work and school, there are no restrictions on where you can drive as long as you stay within your designated 12-hour period.

Hardship License Requirements

There are many requirements for obtaining a hardship license. Some of the most common criteria include:

  • No operation of a motor vehicle since the suspension or revocation
  • Minimum suspension period for hardship consideration has passed
  • Enrollment in the 24D program
  • Completion of the National Safety Council Driver Retraining Course
  • Completion of an approved alcohol treatment program
  • Documentation that you are in compliance with probation
  • A letter from your employer or school stating that you need a hardship license

You may have to serve a specific term of your suspension prior to becoming eligible for a hardship license. If your suspension is due to being classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender, for example, MA law holds that you must wait at least one year before applying for a hardship license. The Registry typically issues about 3,500 hardship licenses per year. Even if you qualify under the hardship criteria listed above, there are no guarantees that you will be issued a hardship license. An experienced Boston defense attorney is crucial to a favorable outcome. Continue reading

There are many reasons why your Massachusetts driver’s license may be suspended or revoked. These include specific driving violations, such as excessive speeding tickets or driving without insurance. You could also lose your license due to criminal offenses, such as operating under the influence or violation of other state laws. Whatever the reason, driving on a suspended or revoked license is never a good idea. Choosing to do so may result in additional consequences, and even jail time.

Suspended vs. Revoked

Massachusetts driver’s licenses can be temporarily suspended or permanently revoked:

  • With a suspension, you are not allowed to drive for a certain period of time, but you may have the opportunity to get your license back at a later date.
  • With a revocation, your driver’s license is canceled, and you only have the opportunity to get it reinstated if you submit to an investigation.

In either case, license suspension and revocation are both red flags to insurance companies. Your premiums will likely skyrocket. In some cases, your insurance company may even cancel your policy. A MA defense lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been stopped for driving on a suspended or revoked license.

Reasons for Driver’s License Suspension/Revocation

Operating under the influence and driving without insurance are among the most common reasons for license suspension and revocation, but you can also lose your Massachusetts driver’s license for the following reasons:

  • The state determines that you are a threat to public safety due to serious violations of traffic law.
  • You drove with a suspended license or used a false driver’s license. Driving with a suspended license leads to an increase in the length of the suspension, and could also result in imprisonment of up to five years.
  • You have physical or psychological impairments. Your driving privileges may be suspended if a health care provider or law enforcement officer determines that you are unable to drive safely.

Next to specific driving violations, there are also non-driving reasons for license suspension. These include:

  • being delinquent on your child support payments,
  • not registering as a sex offender,
  • not appearing when there is an arrest warrant,
  • failing to pay traffic tickets, fines or surcharges, and
  • certain criminal offenses.

With regard to criminal offenses, you may lose your license if you:

  • are caught stealing a motor vehicle – three year suspension,
  • leave the scene of an injury accident without giving aid – one to two years,
  • are found guilty of homicide involving a motor vehicle – 15 years to a lifetime suspension, or
  • are convicted of driving to endanger – two months to one year.

Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License

If you are stopped for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked license, you may face the following penalties:

  • Up to 10 days in jail
  • Fine between $500 and $1,000
  • 60 day license suspension (mandatory)

The sentence will also be based on the reason you lost your driving privilege in the first place, and whether or not you have already been convicted. In some cases, the sentence may result in a fine of up to $10,000, and up to one year in jail. A Boston defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been stopped for driving on a suspended or revoked license. Continue reading

If you are at least 21, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher can result in an OUI arrest in MA. The limit for under-age individuals is .02 percent (basically, zero tolerance).  Licensed commercial drivers (CDL holders) have a limit of .04 percent. If police suspect that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol during a traffic stop, you will likely be asked to submit to a breath test.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Alcohol is metabolized at different rates for different people, and based on a variety of factors. These include your gender, weight, the type of alcohol you consumed, how quickly you consumed it, and whether or not you drank on an empty or full stomach. With so many variables, it is impossible to determine your BAC without a tool designed specifically for that purpose. Even one alcoholic beverage, consumed quickly by a person with a small build – on an empty stomach – can result in an unsafe level of impairment. The best way to avoid an OUI is to always have a designated driver if you plan to drink.

If a breath test indicates that you are above the legal limit, you may be placed under arrest. Although breath tests  – commonly referred to as breathalyzers – sometimes provide inaccurate readings, an over-the-limit result is compelling evidence that you were driving under the influence. This is especially true when a reading is particularly high.

Can I Refuse the Breath Test?

You can decline to take the test, but there are serious repercussions for refusing, including a minimum six-month license suspension. Even so, it may be in your best interest to refuse a breath test. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. You will have a better chance of having your OUI charges dismissed if there are no incriminating breath test results and you have solid legal counsel. If the charges are thrown out, your attorney will likely be able to remove the penalties for refusing as well.

If you do submit to the breath test and your reading is over the limit, an experienced Boston OUI defense attorney may still be able to get your charges dismissed. Breath test results are frequently off by up to .02 percent in either direction. If you were barely above the legal limit, a skilled lawyer should be able to present multiple defenses against your charge. That being said, attempting to defend an OUI charge without legal counsel can have severely negative consequences. Don’t make the mistake of trying to go it alone. The right attorney can be the difference between a conviction and a clean record.

Per Se State

Under Melanie’s law, if a breath test registers higher than the legal limit, you are legally presumed to be impaired. MA is a “Per Se” state, which means that over-limit breath test results provide per se evidence of legal intoxication. Therefore, if you agree to the test and the results are over the legal limit, you are presumed to be operating under the influence. In such a case, it is essential to have an experienced Massachusetts OUI defense attorney by your side. Continue reading

If you get arrested on suspicion of OUI in Massachusetts, the law requires that you submit to a breath or blood test. This “implied consent” law states that if an officer arrests you for OUI – with probable cause – you must consent to a blood or breath test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). As such, there are consequences if you refuse.

If you refuse the breath test (commonly referred to as a breathalyzer), the officer will warn you that a refusal will result in a minimum 180-day license suspension. If you still refuse the test, the officer will automatically take your license and have your car sent to impound (although this will likely happen even if you don’t refuse the test).

In MA, refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test comes with the following consequences:

  • First offense: 180-day license suspension
  • Second offense: Three-year license suspension
  • Third offense: Five-year license suspension

There are some exceptions to the rules above, however. For example, if you are under 21 at the time of your arrest, you will receive an automatic three-year suspension. And if you refuse the test after causing serious injury to another, you will lose your license for 10 years if convicted of OUI. It’s a lifetime suspension if you refuse the breathalyzer after an OUI-related accident in which someone died. You will also lose your license permanently if you previously refused a breathalyzer in three separate OUI arrests.

Is Refusing a Breathalyzer Ever a Good Idea?

At first glance, refusing a breathalyzer may seem like a terrible idea. In some cases, this is likely the case. However, refusing a breathalyzer may also work in your favor. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The help of an experienced Boston OUI defense attorney is crucial to a favorable outcome.

If, for example, this is your first offense, and your BAC is likely over the limit but not excessively high, you may improve your chances of avoiding an OUI conviction if you refuse the breathalyzer. However, a refusal should only be considered if no aggravating circumstances were present, such as having a child in the car, causing property damage, injury or death, or the presence of drugs, drug paraphernalia, or weapons. And even then, there are no guarantees.

An over-the-limit BAC is compelling evidence, even if it’s only just over. It’s easier to argue that you were not intoxicated if there is no BAC on record.

If your charges are dismissed, a skilled MA OUI defense attorney can likely help you get your license reinstated. But, as stated above, there are no guarantees. If you can show that a) the officer did not have probable cause to stop you, b) you were never officially arrested, or c) you consented to the test but it was never performed, you will likely get your license back. Continue reading

Commonly referred to as “hit and run,” leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense in MA. As with most crimes, the penalties depend largely on the particulars of the case, the severity of the accident, and prior criminal history.

Consider the following scenarios: Sue runs into her neighbor’s mailbox because she was texting while driving. She’s not intoxicated, and she doesn’t have a criminal record. But she leaves the scene because it’s late at night and she’s too embarrassed to admit her mistake. Sue may be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, but her penalties will likely be minor. Gretchen, on the other hand, hits a pedestrian while driving drunk, breaking the victim’s leg and shoulder. Gretchen has an extensive criminal record. Chances are, her outcome won’t be nearly as pleasant.

Penalties for Leaving the Scene (No Injuries)

In MA, leaving the scene of an accident is loosely defined as failing to stop after a collision to contact the police or exchange information with the other parties involved. At it’s most basic, leaving the scene is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted of this offense, you may face the following penalties:

  • A fine of up to $200
  • Up to two years in jail
  • A minimum license suspension of 60 days with a maximum suspension of one year

But what if the accident was so minor you didn’t even know it had occurred? If you were unaware of the damage, how could you have known to stop and exchange information? While a smashed mailbox would be hard to miss, it is common for minor accidents to be overlooked when it’s dark outside, or due to distractions or loud music.

Penalties for Leaving the Scene (Injuries)

Things get much more complicated if you leave the scene of an injury accident. When you leave the scene of an accident that resulted in injury to another, you will be looking at a mandatory minimum sentence. Penalties for this crime may include:

  • A minimum of six months in jail, with a maximum of two years
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • A minimum license suspension of one year, up to indefinite
  • Subsequent convictions carry a minimum two year license suspension

A skilled Boston criminal defense lawyer can help you get your penalties reduced or dismissed entirely. In some cases, you can avoid a conviction by working out a payment arrangement to compensate the victim for medical bills and any other expenses associated with the accident. Continue reading

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