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Natick Drunk Driving Law Blog

Without approval of breathalyzer, no driving for OUI offenders

When people are convicted for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Massachusetts, they often face a series of consequences depending on the severity of their offense, before they are permitted to regain their driving privileges. Throughout this time, they may be required to pay fines, undergo recovery programs, pay back people who may have been injured by their actions and even serve jail time in some cases. 

Beginning on January 1, 2019, a new law will require that anyone who has previously had an OUI on their record, be required to have an ignition interlock device that will function as a breathalyzer. Offenders will be unable to start their vehicle until they first use the device and are found to be sober. If the device detects any use of alcohol, it will prevent the vehicle from starting. 

Considerations to reduce OUI limit are beginning to be recognized

When people have been drinking in Massachusetts, their split-second decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle can result in a lifetime of perilous consequences. Recognizing the dangers of drinking and driving and implementing measures to prevent that temptation from happening is something that all drivers should be striving to do. However, in situations where a person does make an irrational and careless decision, they may eventually be able to put their mistake behind them with a commitment to never re-offend and active efforts to be better. 

While discussions to lower the OUI limit that is designated by law enforcement personnel has been in the works for some time, Utah is working toward making a permanent change to its law beginning on December 30. The plan is to lower the alcohol consumption that is legally permitted before driving from .08 to .05. While this change has drawn lots of support from people who protest drinking and driving, it has also drawn criticism from those who worry that it is too strict. 

Can you refuse a breath test in Massachusetts?

If you operate your motor vehicle in any place to which the public has right to access or has access as licensees or invitees, you have technically consented to submit to a breath test or chemical test if an officer requests one of you. This is per Section 24 of the General Laws of The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If you refuse the breath test, the state may impose strict consequences.

It is important to understand that an officer may only request a breath test if he or she believes that you are under the influence of intoxicating liquor and if, at the time of your stop, you are operating a motor vehicle. The officer is also required to inform you of the consequences of refusing such a test or analysis, which may include but not be limited to license suspension for at least up to 180 days or up to a lifetime loss.

How do I request an expungement?

Generally, when you make a mistake, it may have a few undesirable consequences, but you can soon move past it. However, when you make a legal mistake, the consequences can follow you throughout your life. This is especially true if you have a conviction for operating under the influence. An OUI on your record could impact your life in many negative ways. Fortunately, you may be able to expunge the conviction from your record.

The Massachusetts Probation Service explains that you must petition the court where you received the OUI conviction to seal your record. While the court only requires you to file the formal petition form that gives an explanation of what you want to be done and why you want it done, you can also include additional information that could help your expungement to move more quickly through the court.

Are field sobriety tests really accurate?

Being questioned by a police officer who suspects you may be impaired while driving is no doubt something that would cause a person to be very nervous. Part of the nerves experienced in this situation is due to the fear of what consequences you might be given if you are convicted. Part of the nerves also come from a lack of understanding about the process and the tests used during the arrest.

Many people might think that field sobriety tests are administered to prove intoxication. However, as explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, this is not only untrue, but it is also impossible. These roadside tests are actually used only to support the law enforcement officer's supposition that you might possibly be drunk. These tests can then provide the evidence needed for you to be legally arrested and charged with drunk driving.

Losing your license as a parent

Any time someone loses their driver's license, life can become tricky in various ways. For some people, however, this can be an especially challenging ordeal. For example, a parent who loses his or her driver's license may be completely unsure of how to deal with the situation. They may be unable to take their kids to school, run errands such as buying groceries or be able to participate in other important activities and events. As a result, if you are a parent and have lost your driver's license due to drunk driving charges, it is important to know your options.

For starters, some people have lost their ability to drive over false allegations, and it is extremely important to address any concerns you have with respect to the validity of a drunk driving case. Losing your driving privileges can disrupt life for your entire family and it may also have an adverse impact on your career, leading to financial challenges and possibly derailing future career plans. With Halloween around the corner, this can be an especially upsetting time of year for a parent to lose their driving privileges.

Can you get your license reinstated without taking a test?

There are several reasons why you may have been issued a license suspension in Massachusetts. Some of the more common reasons may include operating under the influence, foregoing child support payments or excessive offenses of essential traffic laws. Whatever the reason, you are probably regretting the decisions you made that ultimately led you to lose your license in the first place. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to work toward getting your driving privileges reinstated, but the work you are required to do will vary according to the reason why you were suspended in the first place. 

According to Mass.gov, there are several requirements that you may be expected to pass before you are granted a reinstatement of your license including a written exam and/or a road test. If you were recommended a suspension that exceeds two years, you will undoubtedly be required to complete both the written and road portions of a learner's permit exam. To get started, it is recommended that you first check the requirements to have your license reinstated which will vary from case to case depending on your offense. You will also be asked to pay a fee which could range from $100 to $1200 based on your situation. 

Analyzing how your breath can measure your BAC

As you sit and contemplate the consequences a OUI arrest in Natick might bring, one question may creep into your mind: How is that law enforcement officials can determine what the alcohol content of your blood is by measuring your breath? Many have come to us here at the office of David. B Zirlen with the same question. To know the answer, you need to understand how it is that what you put in your mouth as a liquid can end up as escaping as breath. 

According to The Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership, the exact for of alcohol that you ingest in drinks is known as ethanol. Given that ethanol is a water-soluble compound, it is able to pass through the membranes of the organs of your digestive tract through a process known as passive diffusion. Ethanol molecules are thus able to pass through the lining of your stomach and small intestine and become caught up in the bloodstream, where they eventually reach your heart. 

What if my license is suspended for a DUI in another state?

While you were out of state visiting a friend, you were pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence. Your Massachusetts driver's license was suspended in that state. Can you still drive in Massachusetts?

According to Mass.gov, the National Driver Register is a database that includes information about revoked or suspended driver's licenses everywhere in the United States. Because every state is required to contribute to this database, it will not slip the notice of Massachusetts authorities that you have lost your right to drive, even though it happened somewhere else.

Looking for a job after an OUI in Massachusetts

When you were pulled over by Massachusetts law enforcement, your primary thoughts may have been the immediate results of a drunk driving conviction. Going to jail, paying fines and having an ignition interlock system installed in your car can be inconvenient at best. Since then, you have moved past all that and stayed out of trouble. However, now that you are looking for a job, things are different.

A criminal record can be a serious liability as you hunt for a new job. Fortunately, you may now qualify to have your OUI conviction expunged, Mass.gov explains. If it was a felony conviction, you must wait seven years before you can file a petition to have the record destroyed. A misdemeanor takes only three years. What are the benefits of expungement in your job search?