With summer upon us the Massachusetts State Police will start to increase roadblocks a.k.a. sobriety checkpoints in random areas.
You may have seen videos by various lawyers that advised to “Just put your license and registration in a baggie and hang it out the window for the screening officer to read and see”.
This should work!
However, you have to remember the officer wants to find signs of impairment. If he gets you to roll down your window and finds the smell of alcohol, blood shot and glassy eyes and/or slurring of speech when you say “a couple of beers” – he gets to detain you for suspicion of impared driving.
This is all they need to ask you to pull into the screening pit so further testing can be conducted on you to see whether you are under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
Why give them the chance?
The concept of using the see through bag may work! But what happens if you turn around when you see a roadblock ahead?
Case law in Massachusetts is very lean in this area, actually acknowledged by the Commonwealth.
Arrested for Making a U-turn at a Sobriety Checkpoint in Lowell
I had a client who pulled a “U turn” before entering the sobriety check point. What was his reason for turning around, who cares are you Karnack, one who can read minds?
If no indication of criminal activity has been seen then where is the reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify a stop of a civilian?
If no erratic driving, speeding, squealing of tires or any motor vehicle defects have been observed by the police, what is the reason for the police to pull you over — other than the suspicion that you are attempting to avoid a roadblock!
Think about it. There are a number of reasons one turns around. You may have forgotten something where you just left. Or someone called saying he needs a ride. Or you just realized you were going the wrong way out of town.
In short, there are lots of innocent reasons for a legal U-turn. For an officer to pull you over on the hunch that you are attempting to avoid a roadblock.
Hunches are not allowed in police work.
But be advised: It may be allowed if you don’t have a good criminal defense attorney to defend you!
How We Used Massachusetts Law to Defend Our Client
The results of an allowed motion to suppress are available for pdf download by clicking here.
This person was faced initially with an OUI 2nd offense. His court-appointed attorney wanted to plea him out as his blood test (BT) result was .17 and he failed some if not all the field sobriety tests.
According to the police report, he almost fell down as he was attempting a test. He became combative with the police and was charged with Resisting Arrest and Assault and Battery on a police officer — facing mandatory time behind bars if convicted.
He came to our office seeking a free consultation, which we gladly offered.
We looked over the discovery that had been provided after numerous pre-trial conferences with the other attorney.
They did not have the videotape of the booking because they were never asked for it.
There was no documentation on how the BT machine was operating or maintained.
After the client hired us (on a payment plan), we moved for the needed documents and obtained them.
The Commonwealth then found out that the client had another OUI/DUI out of state. Not good! Now he is looking at an OUI 3rd offense which if convicted would be a minimum of 150 days in jail, loss of license of 5 years and be labeled a felon and lose his job.
We found that the BT machine was suspect so we filed a motion to suppress the BT results.
But we also said that he was justified in making a U-turn where he did and filed a motion on that single issue.
As you can see from the writings of the judge, it was narrowed down to the issues we wanted to discuss—the stop!
We had a new judge who didn’t want to make a mistake—a mistake is to side with the defendant!
As you can read, the issue was clear after a good cross-examination of the arresting officer that this client did nothing wrong to support the officer in stopping him; he was merely acting on a hunch!
Next to a verdict of NOT GUILTY have a motion ALLOWED that causes the entire criminal complaint to be thrown out is fantastic news for the client! He is coming in tomorrow to get the great news.
Criminal Defense Attorney Gregory Oberhauser
I am happy to tell you that I have taken over 140 hours of classeroom work and passed a written test that allows me to be the only certified “ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist” in Massachusetts as defined by the American Chemical Society, the largest association of scientist, scholars and lawyers in the America.
The defense of OUI/DUI comes down to how well you know the science and technology of an OUI in defending your client at trial.
Give us a call—when other lawyers say to plea out, come visit us for a free consult before you make a life-altering decision.
Resources: Decision on Motion to Supress PDF Download