1. NOT HIRING AN ATTORNEY.
Operating under the influence of alcohol is controlled by Massachusetts General Law Chap. 90, Sec. 24. It has always been one of the most complex and dynamic statutes in the Massachusetts General Laws. The recent changes to the law and proposed revision continue to make it more complex and defendant unfriendly. Without an experienced OUI defense lawyer, it will be virtually impossible for you to understand all of your rights, potential penalties and possible defenses relative to your case. It's not uncommon for the police prosecutor at the time of your arraignment, the first appearance in court, to offer you a disposition of your matter upon an admission of sufficient facts or plea of guilty. The prosecutor will typically describe to you a disposition that includes a dismissal at the end of a year if you have not been re-arrested and if you have completed the Driver Alcohol Education Program (DAEP). While this sounds like a fairly benign disposition for most persons, it fails to include information about RMV suspensions and the exponential jump in penalties for subsequent offenses. It also fails to note that it will be counted as a conviction for the rest of your life. Typically a person arrested for drunk driving will go to their arraignment the morning after their arrest without an attorney. At that time it's not uncommon to be feeling embarrassed and wanting to dispose of this matter as quickly and as quietly as possible. This will make the prosecutor's recommendation sound quite attractive. It is critical, however, that you take time to understand every aspect of your case and possible defenses, and to speak with a qualified, experienced criminal defense lawyer before rushing into a disposition. You should never plead guilty or admit to a crime without consulting with an attorney. Your decision will follow you the rest of your life.
2. YOU SHOULD SPEAK TO NO ONE BUT YOUR LAWYER ABOUT YOUR OUI CASE.
As we've all seen on TV, over and over again, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Discussions with police officers, prosecutors, assistant district attorneys, court personnel and friends all can potentially be used against you in your case. Any of those persons can be subpoenaed by the District Attorney's Office to provide testimony in court as to your statements. Statements made to your lawyer are privileged and cannot be used against you in court. It is important that you speak only to your attorney about your case and avoid loose conversation, particularly in the halls of the courthouse, about your matter.
3. OPERATING A VEHICLE AFTER YOUR LICENSE HAS BEEN REVOKED.
Almost every OUI arrest involves some sort of RMV license suspension action. When persons are arrested for drunk driving, they are requested to perform a breath test at the police station. If a person arrested for OUI refuses to perform that breath test, their license is suspended for a minimum of 180 days and possibly up to 18 months for prior convictions upon that refusal. If a person submits to the breath test and it registers a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher, a person's license is suspended for 30 days following the test. In the case of both suspensions, you will be issued a 15-day temporary license. Every sentence in an OUI case involves a RMV license suspension ranging from a minimum of 45 days up to a lifetime suspension for arrests involving serious injuries with suspects who have been convicted multiple times for drunk driving. In Massachusetts, operating a vehicle after your license has been suspended, pursuant to an OUI suspension, can trigger a penalty of a mandatory minimum of 60 days in jail. Do not operate any vehicle while your license is suspended.
4. HIRING THE LEAST EXPENSIVE LAWYER YOU CAN FIND.
As with every other purchase you make in life, the cost of legal representation for your OUI case can vary greatly. It is not in your best interest to hire the cheapest attorney you can find. Similarly, by hiring the highest priced attorney does not necessarily guarantee that you are getting better representation. Hiring a lawyer to represent you in your OUI case is a personal decision. You should look for a lawyer who is experienced in handling drunk driving matters and understands how the prosecutor will attempt to secure a conviction against you and how to win your case. It is important that you speak with a lawyer and be confident that he understands the evidence against you and how to present facts and circumstances that demonstrates that you are not guilty of the OUI charge. Geographic proximity to you or the courthouse where your case is pending is not necessarily a strong consideration. Almost all experienced criminal defense lawyers travel to and practice in a wide range of courts and jurisdictions throughout the Commonwealth. You should hire a lawyer that you feel confident will zealously advocate for your best interest. Make sure that the lawyer you hire is a qualified and experienced OUI trial attorney.
5. NOT DOCUMENTING THE DETAILS.
As soon as possible after your arrest, you should make a detailed list of all the circumstances of your arrest and the events leading up to that arrest including:
6. HIRING THE WRONG LAWYER.
The Torney Bldg.,
54 Samoset Road,