Many people are shocked to learn that in the state of Massachusetts they can be charged with an OUI (Operating Under the Influence) without ever driving the vehicle.
If an inebriated individual is sitting in a car that is stopped, parked, or idling on any public street or in public location (termed a ‘pubic way’) or if the area of the auto is located in what is known as a ‘right of access as invitees or licensees’ then the person is considered to be operating the auto.
In such a situation, the person will be charged with OUI. Many people feel like they are safe because they were not operating the vehicle at the time of the OUI, but it can still easily lead to a conviction.
OUI in Massachusetts While Sleeping in a Car
Did you hit the clubs and drink too much? If you’re drunk, then maybe you just want to sleep it off in your car. You have no intention of driving instead, you just want to fall asleep. However, in Massachusetts, it does not matter if you are found sound asleep in your vehicle because if you have been drinking then you’ll be charged with a drunk driving. Many people find this unjust and want to fight their DUI charge.
The Reasoning Behind OUI Charges When You’re Not Driving
If you have received an OUI while not driving, then you might feel confused and angry. How can you be charged when you were not operating the vehicle? In Massachusetts, authorities such as law enforcement and the courts believe that charging a person who is not actually operating a motor vehicle but is over the legal limit is a matter of public safety. No one can know for sure if the intoxicated person will not suddenly make the decision to drive or whether or not that the person was not driving previously.
OUI Defense Options
If you were not driving a motor vehicle at the time that you were given the DUI then you might have a viable legal defense. You’ll need to speak with Attorney Gregory Oberhauser who has extensive experience defending drubkk driving charges. He will look over the case and all evidence to provide you with information on your defense.
It is scary being charged with an OUI, especially if you were not even driving the vehicle. As mentioned, it is a very real possibility that you will be convicted if you do not seek the assistance of a skilled defense attorney.
Massachusetts law has to meet the definition of ‘operating’ so it is often hard for them to prove. Depending on the circumstances of your case Attorney Oberhauser may be able to mount a strong legal defense that could result in the dismissal of the case or even a ‘not guilty’ verdict.
The Process of Being Charged With an OUI in Massachusetts
Here is a brief outline of the OUI process in Massachusetts. This process happens regardless of if you were driving or not.
- Arrest: Law enforcement must determine if you are inebriated in the vehicle. It is common for them to administer a breathalyzer test, field sobriety test, or require a blood test. You do have the right to refuse the tests, but you will still be taken to jail where you will be booked and fingerprinted. You should seek the help of an attorney immediately to help protect your rights and represent you.
- Arraignment: An arraignment is your first appearance in court. It takes place several days after your arrest. At this time, the criminal charges are read, and you must enter a plea. You might be given a copy of the police report at this time.
- Pre-Trial Conference: The pre-trial conference occurs about four to six weeks following the arraignment. In some cases, there are several pre-trial conferences. A deal is normally offered by the prosecutor at this point. You may accept or reject it. Your attorney will be filing motions for evidence and suppression of evidence.
- Motion Hearing: Testimony of the arresting officer is given, and your attorney must decide if your rights have been violated. If any rights were violated, then your case might be dismissed or strengthened. At this point, a trial date is set.
- Trial: The choice of a jury trial or a bench trial is offered. Usually, bench trials are far faster, but your attorney will advise you on which to choose. Your case will be presented, and your attorney will provide you with a defense. A verdict is then rendered.
- Sentencing: Sentencing takes place when the trial ends.
If you have been charged with a DUI but you were not driving a vehicle, then it is imperative that you seek legal counsel. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation and review of your case.