Sometimes the work of law enforcement is to send attention where extra attention seems to be needed. Given the recent motor vehicle accidents throughout the Commonwealth, the State Police seem to be doing just that. This time, they are not even bothering with a fancy name like “Operation Bad Drivers”.

The officers are targeting dangerous drivers, from drunk drivers to those simply driving dangerously. The rationale for the crackdown is a recent string of deadly accidents. Over this past weekend alone, the State Police announced on Monday, they charged 10 people with drunk driving and issued citations for other offenses to 222 others on Route 24 and Interstate 195 in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Among the recipients of the Commonwealth Bracelets of Shame was a gentleman named Jose Perez, 49, of Brockton. Mr. Perez was awarded charges of OUI, negligent operation and a marked lanes violation after a two-car crash on Route 24 northbound, in Freetown. The accident sent him and a female to the hospital with minor injuries.
That was very early Saturday morning.

On Sunday, State Police intercepted an alleged wrong-way driver on Route 24 in Berkley. Nicholas Pilla, 25, of New Bedford, was charged with operating under the influence and negligent operation.

In addition to the above, State Police said they made one felony arrest, six misdemeanor arrests, and issued criminal summonses to eight drivers.

These additional efforts are not about to end.

Eleven additional weekend patrols will be deployed on the highways through the end of September. They will run from 8 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Saturday, and 8 p.m. Saturday until 4 a.m. Sunday. Normally, only three State Police units are on those roads at those times.

The reason for this extra attention to the Commonwealth’s highways?

There has been an increase in such traffic deaths this year. For example, there were five traffic deaths on Route 24 in all of 2011. Thus far, barely eight months into 2012 there have already been six.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Law Enforcement And Driving Offenses

There are many people out there who do not realize that the police can do many things when it comes to paying special attention to drivers. They can use roadblocks, they can hide and wait for suspicious driving activity and they can, by law, pull over cars for very small offenses.
For example, if a tail light is out, or you made a bad turn into the wrong lane or your registration sticker is out of date you can be pulled over…highway or not.

“But Sam, can they simply search my car in all these instances?”

Not automatically, but there is where it can get complicated. After pulling you over, there are limits as to what the officers can or cannot do…depending on the circumstances. This is where search and seizure rules come into play.

Don’t get me wrong…the simple fact that an officer is not allowed to do something does not always mean that the officer will accept those limitations.

“That’s when I tell the officer that he cannot do something when he tries to do it, right?”

Wrong. For two reasons. First of all, you may not be an experienced criminal defense attorney. In other words, you may be wrong. Second, telling an officer he or she cannot do something when he or she is about to do it despite your lack of consent is not a particularly bright thing to do. They will do it anyway and you may end up with more charges.

“So I should just consent?”

No. You should simply tell them that you do not consent. And that is it.

“I always heard I should say nothing to the officers.”

That is basically true. You will need to do things like giving your license and registration and answer some identification-type questions as the police are allowed to ask some initial questions. However, you should not volunteer any statements and be mindful of not getting your Miranda Rights read to you before any conversation about your driving. When that subject comes up, it is safest to tell the officer you want a lawyer before making any statements.

And then….get one! Retain an experienced criminal defense attorney because a crime is a crime and the days when people simply chuckled about things like drunk driving are long gone.

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