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The Boilerplate OUI Police Report; A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Dream

Time and time again I have commented that at least in Massachusetts the OUI police reports that I read are essentially boilerplate. From officer to officer, report to report, I can recite by memory, almost verbatim the content of those documents. I have always maintained that if criminal defense lawyers collaborate a database can be established where lawyers can access the reports of individual officers to show a pattern of repetition that demonstrates a lack of sincerity on their part. Police officers tend to be lazy in their report writing. The reports are prepared at the end of their shift. The officers don’t like doing this. They are tired and they want to go home. So what do they do? They take shortcuts. They cut and paste or reiterate the substance of other reports. They do not take the time to carefully draft reports relating to your case. This post shows what I mean by boilerplate police reports. Let me know if this sounds familiar to you? If you were arrested for OUI there is a good chance this is what your report looked like.

The “Standard” Massachusetts Drunk Driving Police Report

On such and such a date, at such and such a time, I, Officer Jones, was on routine patrol in (any town in Massachusetts). I was headed northbound when I observed a Dodge Durango, license plate 123456 crossing the marked lanes several times. I followed the vehicle for approximately 6 tenths of a mile during which time I counted the left tires of the vehicle cross over the lanes into the oncoming lane of traffic three times. As a result I activated my overhead lights and conducted a stop of the motor vehicle. I contacted the operator later identified as John Defendant. I immediately detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from the person of Mr. Defendant. I asked him if he had been drinking to which he replied “I had two beers”. His speech was slurred. His eyes were bloodshot and glassy. I then asked him to provide his license and registration. Mr. Defendant reached into his wallet, fumbling through some papers before finally producing his driver’s license. He then opened the glove box of the Durango and attempted to locate the registration. Mr. Defendant fumbled through several papers, passing over the registration at least two times.

Based on these observations, and having concerns about the suspect’s ability to operate a motor vehicle, I asked Mr. Defendant if he would mind getting out of the car to perform some field sobriety tests. Mr. Defendant agreed to do so. When he got out of the car I noticed him to be unsteady on his feet, using the car door the support himself as he stepped from the vehicle. I then asked Mr. Defendant to perform the walk and turn test. I first demonstrated how to do the test. During the test I observed Mr. Defendant struggling to maintain his balance. After the seventh step he turned even though I told him that he had to take ten steps. He disregarded my instructions and attempted the test in the opposite direction. In my opinion Mr. Defendant failed this test. The next test I asked him to perform was the one legged stand test. Again, I demonstrated to Mr. Defendant how to do the test. Mr. Defendant raised his left leg two inches, inches less than requested and held it for a count of six before losing his balance. I formed the opinion that Mr. Defendant failed this test as well. At this point I formed the opinion that Mr. Defendant was under the influence of alcohol and I placed him under arrest.

At the station Mr. Defendant was offered an opportunity to take the breathalyzer test. He refused to do so. He was cited for Marked Lines Violation and OUI. He was picked up by his wife at the station at 4:30 a.m. after the bail commissioner set a $40 dollar bail.

Does this sound familiar? It should. This is what police officers often report after OUI arrests. What is most interesting is that most of my clients tell me that little of this really happened. Rather, the police take shortcuts. They suspect you of drunk driving and they arrest you. They never show you how to perform the field sobriety tests. They never see you fumbling through your wallet for your driver’s license. They never see you having difficulty getting the registration out of the glove box. We know this and we know how to defend against it. I have successfully represented countless people charged with OUI whose police report seems to follow this template.

If you have been charged with this crime call us at 617-263-6800. We can help you.