Limo driver arrested for driving drunk -was driving high school students at time of arrest- loss of license and maybe job to follow

‘Tis the season of high school proms. As a parent, I know the worry about what
“the kids” are doing out there. It did not occur to me that the adults in charge of the kids might need some worrying too. However, take Boston-area limosine driver, Brain H., 45 of Tewksbury, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”). Friday night, he was given the news that when this week began, he would be trading in his license for a new relationship…with a criminal defense attorney,

He was arrested in Lowell and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol…while transporting a group of high school students after the prom.

You see, a group of Lowell Catholic High School students hired the limosine from Lynette’s Limousine Service for the prom on Friday evening. However, during the outing, according to police, two of the girls noticed that the driver was driving erratically. One of them called a parent when the limo stopped at the Showcase Cinema at 32 Reiss Ave., police said.

Apparently, the students became suspicious that the Defendant ‘s driving abilities had been hampered by drinking during the trip because he kept getting lost and repeatedly veered onto the rumble strips on the side of the road. According to the students, the situation got so bad that the students demanded that the Defendant pull over the limousine, which is why they stopped in the movie theater parking lot.

Officers said the parent who had been called immediately contacted Lowell police and the Defendant was arrested at the movie theater at 11:40 p.m.

According to police, the Defendant had initially left the area when the students refused to get back into the car, but returned shortly after, pleaded for the students to forgive him, and tried to convince them to get back into the limo. At one point he is said to have “…actually put his hands in the praying position and said ‘Please, I’m sorry, I made a mistake,” according to the students.

The students did not go for it and the parents are likewise not in a forgiving mood.

“To put that many children in the hands of a person who thinks they have the right to jeopardize them is just appalling to me,” said one mother.

To make matters worse, the Defendant is the third limousine driver employed by Lynette’s to be arrested while chauffeuring customers.

In 2004, a driver taking a group of women home from a Madonna concert was charged with driving under the influence after he got lost and began swerving across the road. Four years earlier, the driver had been arrested and charged with drunk driving while driving a group of teenagers to an N-SYNC concert. It was his third DUI since 1986.

Another passenger won a $42,000 settlement in 1999 after a Lynette’s driver was arrested for driving without a license and possession of cocaine. The court found Lynette’s negligent in its hiring and supervision of drivers.

Lynette’s general manager said that Lynette’s is shocked and devastated to learn of the arrest. He indicated that the Defendant is a favored employee who has worked for the company for three years. He has now, however, been suspended indefinitely.
Lynette’s will refund the students the cost of the limousine service and provide them a complimentary night out, the general manager said. He said the company has been working hard to make sure drivers are responsible and safe.

Meanwhile, the Defendant was released on bail Saturday from police custody and will be arraigned this morning in Lowell District Court.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

Why am I again reminded of the catch-phrase from a recent motion picture, “Who watches the watchmen?”

This situation had the earmarkings of a potential disaster. Fortunately, nobody was hurt or killed…except for, perhaps, the Defendant’s career as a driver. As we have discussed, any such results would likely end up in homicide, among other, charges.

Driving while intoxicated can end and ruin lives; you do not need me to tell you this. However, it is also worth pointing out that that drunk driver could be anyone.

It does not take a felon with a life of crime behind him to be arrested for drunk driving. At times, it does not even take the person to be actually what we would normally consider to be drunk.

We do not know what, if any, tests were performed on the Defendant, other than the observations of the students, by the police to determine whether he was indeed intoxicated. Sometimes it is merely police observation and could simply be glassy eyes and an odor of alcohol. These things could be present if a driver was tired, or scared, and either the driver or the passenger had had one drink.

While it is not a particularly good idea, it is not actually illegal to drive after having a drink of alcohol. If you go to a wedding and have a drink of wine, it is not necessarily a crime for you to drive home. The test is whether the drinking actually effected your driving ability.

We have various tests to figure out if driving was effected. These include the breathelyzer, field sobriety tests, and observations by trained police officers.

However, these are only pieces of evidence which produce presumptions that you are under the influence. Sometimes, these tests are not performed objectively.

In other words, there are times that your likelihood of being arrested are determined even before the tests.

You do have the right, of course, to refuse the actual tests, although you lose your license for a time if you do so.

One thing the Defendant did right was to not fight the police. As a result, he was released for the weekend on presumably low bail and apparently only charged for the operating under the influenece.

The employer, of course, may have other problems… particularly with its licensing. One would imagine that there is a “weeding out” process when drivers are hired. In the case of this company, however, particularly when one looks at the earlier incidents, one must wonder what, if anything, this process includes. There may well be investigations ongoing into this very question starting today.

In the meantime, the laws regarding operating under the influence are not as straight-forward as you might think. Like most things in criminal justice, there are exceptions, mandatory sentences, etc. that make the representation by an experienced defense attorney vital.

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