Unusual DUI case highlights unique Massachusetts law

On behalf of Brian D. Roman, Attorney at Law on Friday, August 8, 2014.

It sounds like a scene out of a crime thriller movie. Attleboro prosecutors say that a 49-year-old man had an accident while drunk driving and then got out of the vehicle and ran across the state line into Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to avoid arrest. Prosecutors say the incident happened last Nov. 17 around 6:00 p.m. on the Newport Avenue bridge in South Attleboro, Massachusetts.

It was there that prosecutors say another motorist spotted the defendant sitting in his parked 1999 BMW while smoke billowed from the vehicle's engine. Court records say the concern motorist followed the defendant as he started his car and drove across the bridge into Pawtucket, Rhode Island. After period of erratic driving, the defendant had a minor collision with the witness's vehicle before ditching the car and running across the state line, where he was later apprehended by Pawtucket, Rhode Island, police.

The man was subsequently charged with drunk driving related crimes by both Rhode Island and Massachusetts police. The defendant has already pleaded no contest to the Rhode Island drunk driving charges and received a fine and probation. However, the defendant's attorney correctly argued to dismiss the Massachusetts DUI case due to a jurisdictional technicality.

Under Massachusetts law, defendants charged with drunk driving are required to be told that they have the right to an independent chemical test regarding the determination of their blood alcohol concentration. The Attleboro district judge presiding over the case agreed and dismissed the drunk driving charge because the defendant was never informed of that right.

Massachusetts motorists facing DUI charges should know that a conviction for drunk driving can prevent them from getting certain jobs, increase their insurance rates and result in the loss of driving privileges. That is why it is important to explore all available legal options because there may be a way to avoid those obstacles that may not be readily apparent to them.

Source: The Sun Chronicle, "Man charged with drunken driving in RI and Mass. off the hook in Bay State on technicality" David Linton, Jul. 30, 2014