David B. Zirlen Defense Lawyer / Personal Injury Lawyer
Keep your options open – Contact my firm today.
Call now 508-319-1641

Natick Drunk Driving Law Blog

DUI charges and custody rights

The consequences of being pulled over for drunk driving can impact someone’s life in so many ways. Beyond the financial penalties, the loss of driving privileges and potentially spending time in prison, this can be a very disruptive situation when it comes to one’s family. Not only can DUI charges lead to the breakdown of a relationship and family drama, but they can also make it more difficult for a parent to pursue child custody while going through a divorce. It is especially important for parents to avoid DUI charges, but for some, it is already too late. Likewise, parents should be particularly careful when approaching their drunk driving case.

When a marriage falls apart, those with children may face numerous legal matters related to their kids. However, custody disputes can be one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce, resulting in strong emotions and serious concerns about how the outcome of the case will impact a parent’s relationship with his or her child and the child’s future. If a parent has been charged with DUI, especially while a custody dispute was underway, this could make it more difficult for them to seek custody. Courts consider all sorts of factors when determining which outcome would be in the best interests of the child and recent drunk driving charges may lead them to conclude that the other parent is more fit to raise the child.

Depression, excessive drinking and drunk driving

There are a number of reasons why people get behind the wheel when they are over the legal limit. In some cases, people may not realize that their blood alcohol content level has surpassed the legal limit because they did not think they drank very much (this can be especially tricky when it comes to mixed drinks at a party, for example). In other instances, a driver may feel sober and think that enough time has passed to allow their system to remove alcohol when they are still considered drunk. Moreover, some people may be more likely to drive drunk when they are struggling with depression and other emotional hurdles.

People become depressed for many reasons, whether they recently discovered that their job was being terminated or their spouse decided to file for a divorce. Unfortunately, some people turn to alcohol, and this can lead to additional issues (such as getting behind the wheel while intoxicated) which can make life even harder. Someone who is pulled over for drunk driving may face even greater emotional problems and their life may be disrupted in all sorts of ways, whether they lose their driving privileges or even have to spend time behind bars.

Spring break and drunk driving charges

People are pulled over for driving under the influence at all times of the year, but DUI charges may be especially likely on certain occasions. For example, spring break can lead to more people getting behind the wheel while they are over the legal limit, and those who were recently charged with DUI over spring break may be very worried about how these charges will affect their future. From problems related to one’s career to difficulties that arise regarding college (which is especially notable since many college students participate in spring break parties that involve alcohol), it is crucial to handle these charges correctly.

Sometimes, people are charged with drunk driving even though they did not know that they were over the legal limit. Moreover, some people may even be charged with DUI even though their blood alcohol content level was below the legal limit. For example, a breathalyzer test may not be conducted properly. Unfortunately, some people are unaware of their rights and fail to take action in such instances, which can result in a multitude of hardships that will follow them throughout their lives.

The consequences of underage DUI charges

Drunk driving cases can bring a number of penalties and may disrupt life in different ways. For some people, such as those facing underage DUI charges, this is especially true. For example, a young person who has been charged with driving drunk may face challenges related to their ability to attend college, their career and their personal relationships. Of course, financial penalties, the loss of driving privileges and even time behind bars may also make life tough. If you were recently charged with underage drunk driving, or you have a child who is going through this, be sure to explore all legal options.

Underage drunk driving can be especially complicated for a handful of reasons. For example, zero tolerance laws can mean that a young person who has a very small amount of alcohol in their system may still be charged with driving under the influence even though they were not intoxicated to any extent when they were pulled over. Moreover, there are numerous pressures that young people face, such as negative influences from the media and classmates, as well as unfamiliarity with drunk driving laws and figuring out how to address charges when they surface.

Could I lose the right to drink?

If you live in Massachusetts, it is reasonable to conclude that driving while under the influence may lead to a suspended license. If someone is injured or there is damage to property during this time, the chances of losing your license climbs even higher. But, what about the right to drink?

According to one CNN article, alcohol is the thread that binds assaults, accidents and death together. While many people drink socially and pose no threat to society, the connection between excessive drinking and dangerous behavior is often clear. When it comes to operating under the influence, a driver may not even need to be heavily drunk to pose a public safety threat.

Is a road test all that is required before license reinstatement?

Immediately after you have received notification that you are eligible to request that your license is reinstated in Massachusetts, your attention to detail will be crucial in making sure that you have your driving privileges given back as soon as possible. Contrary to what you may have heard from other people, a driving test may not be the only requirement in your effort to have your license reinstated. 

Depending on the offense that you committed that resulted in your license's revocation in the first place, the courts may require you to complete a series of tasks before your eligibility is verified and your license is given back. According to mass.gov, some of the educational courses that you may be required to participate in could include the following:

  • State Courts Against Road Rage (SCARR): This program will instruct you about the dangers and risks of responding angrily to other drivers and teach you coping mechanisms and healthy ways to respond when other drivers have bothered you. 
  • Drug or Alcohol Counseling: These types of rehabilitation programs may enable you to understand the negative effects of consuming drugs and alcohol and how your consumption could dangerously affect your ability to make responsible decisions while driving. 
  • National Safety Council (NSC)/Massachusetts driver retraining program: Your participation in this well-rounded educational program can provide helpful tips for driving, as well as give valuable refreshers on general driving practices, their importance and the consequences if you do not adhere to them. 

Drunk driving and older adults

When some people think of the typical drunk driver, they may think of someone who is in their teens or a twenty-something. People may also envision a male driver when they think about the type of person who typically drives drunk. However, it is important to bear in mind that drivers of all ages may operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, whether they are male or female. Moreover, older adults also drive drunk and may find themselves facing charges for operating while under the influence. In fact, drunk driving among older adults raises a number of issues, which we will touch on in this post.

First of all, a driver’s blood alcohol content level may be impacted by their age. As a result, an older driver could be more likely to find themselves over the legal limit and charged with drunk driving. Someone in an older age bracket may not realize that just a couple of drinks left them over the legal limit, and this could lead to very harsh consequences. The bodies of older adults may have more difficulty breaking down alcohol in their system, so it may stay in their system for longer periods of time—resulting in DUI charges if they are pulled over.

The unexpected effects of license suspension

In Massachusetts, there are several different reasons why someone may end up with their license suspended. For example, operating a vehicle while under the influence (OUI) can result in such penalties. Today, we will take a look at some of the reasons for license suspension and the effects it can have on drivers.

FindLaw takes a look at different reasons for license suspension. This can be divided into driving offenses and non-driving offenses. Driving offenses include things like drag racing, leaving the scene of an accident, failing to comply with a breathalyzer test, assaulting someone on the highway, or reckless driving. 

What happens to your insurance if your license is revoked?

When you were pulled over for operating your vehicle under the influence in Massachusetts, your license may have been revoked temporarily. This action prevents you from being able to legally drive for a period of time while you work to pay restitution for your choice. While you may think that your license's revocation is limited to your driving privileges, it can also affect your insurance which is something you should be aware of. 

Insurance companies rely on your commitment to driving your vehicle safely in order to supply you with the coverage you request. They also require you to maintain a valid driver's license that shows that you do not have any infractions against you that could indicate that you are at risk of causing an accident. As such, a revoked license means your insurance coverage is negated until you are able to meet the requirements given to you by authorities before you are able to request that your license is reinstated. 

DUI child endangerment laws in Massachusetts

When an officer stops a person on suspicion of driving under the influence in Massachusetts, and when that person has a child passenger in the vehicle, the state may charge the driver with both an OUI and child endangerment. This is thanks to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which convinced federal lawmakers that driving drunk with a child passenger is a form of child abuse. Today, all but four states have the power to charge a person with a separate offense if that person is guilty of operating a motor vehicle while inebriated and with a child passenger. In all states, including those that do not have additional laws, prosecutors have the right to charge the drunk driver with the additional crime of child endangerment.

Though MADD was the first to introduce the concept of child endangerment laws, New York was the first state to enact a comprehensive set of child endangerment laws. New York law makes it a felony to drive with a child in the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Massachusetts's laws are not so strict. However, the state may charge a person with a misdemeanor if an officer stops him or her while he or she is operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol and if the car contains a child passenger who is 14 years of age or younger.