Articles Posted in OUI Serious Bodily Injury

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Police say a 52-year-old man caused an injury accident Jan. 16 by driving under the influence of powerful painkillers. Joseph Kaizer is accused of hitting a mother and her 14-year-old son, who were crossing the street after leaving a relative’s funeral mass. The young man was treated for two broken wrist bones and a knee injury and released, but his mother was hospitalized overnight with unspecified injuries. Kaizer, who had his 11-year-old daughter in the vehicle, admitted to crushing and injecting methadone in the past, but denied having done it that day. Nonetheless, police observed track marks on his arms and legs. Police searching his car found two empty bottles of methadone and 23 pills of clonazepam, a muscle relaxant, along with 23 needles and two spoons with residue.

Kaizer was arrested for OUI drugs, OUI with serious bodily injury, failure to slow for pedestrians, negligent driving and child endangerment, for OUI with his daughter in the car. She was picked up at the scene by her mother. Police also asked the RMV to immediately revoke Kaizer’s license as an “immediate threat.”

Read article: Driver allegedly high on painkillers hits mother, son

Kaizer is not accused of drinking alcohol, a fact that could actually help a Massachusetts OUI criminal defense attorney defend his case. In cases of operating under the influence of alcohol, police can make a case based on the results of a BAC, regardless of other circumstances. Any amount of a drug in your blood is enough for an OUI drugs charge — but only if Massachusetts law makes it illegal to take the drugs in question before driving. The law specifically lists which drugs are illegal, but not every sedative, sleep aid or other drug police might frown on is on that list. If the drugs Kaizer is accused of taking are not on the list, an experienced Massachusetts intoxicated driving defense lawyer can make a strong case that the charges must be dropped. This is assuming that police even took a blood test showing Kaizer had the drugs in his system, something the article didn’t mention. You must remember that the prosecutor must still prove impairment caused by the drug, not just the existence of the drug in your system.

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A young man from Weston was charged with operating under the influence with serious bodily injury, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving after hitting a Boston College senior and driving away. The Boston Globe reported Dec. 8 that Benjamin Knott, 18, is accused of striking 21-year-old Bethany Pfalzgraf of Londonderry, NH as she crossed a street on campus at around 12:30 a.m. Dec. 6. Pfalzgraf was initially hospitalized in serious condition, but had her condition upgraded to good Dec. 7. Knott reportedly drove away from the crash and stopped in a parking lot, where campus police found him examining the damage to his vehicle. He told the Massachusetts State Police that he had a few drinks while visiting a friend on campus, and provided two breath samples that measured his blood-alcohol concentration at 0.18 and 0.2, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

Read article: Teenager charged with DUI after BC student is hit

Knott faces unrelated negligent boating charges from New Hampshire, stemming from an August incident in which alcohol was reportedly not a factor. Nonetheless, media reports about this accident continue to mention those charges, which concerns me as a Massachusetts drunk driving criminal defense attorney. The two incidents together may show that Knott has made bad decisions while operating a vehicle, but they don’t show a history of intoxicated driving and boating. To imply otherwise is irresponsible and against the spirit of our criminal justice system’s presumption of innocence.

This is not to say that the charges against Knott aren’t serious. Even a first OUI in Massachusetts with serious bodily injury means a minimum of six months in jail and up to 10 years in prison; $500 to $5,000 in fines; and several hundred more in fees. Because Knott is under the age of 21, he also faces a three-year driver’s license suspension, instead of the two-year suspension for drivers over 21 accused of the same violation. And if he is convicted of this charge and then charged with OUI again later in life, his penalties will likely be more severe. Knott has pleaded not guilty and retained a Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer, so it seems that he intends to defend the charges. Under these circumstances, that seems like a wise decision.

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More than two years after a fatal accident, a Taunton man was acquitted of drunk driving but found guilty of vehicular homicide. According to a Nov. 2 article in the Taunton Daily Gazette, Edward Leonard, 36, faces up to 2 1/2 years in prison for his role in the accident that killed Jennifer Walker, 25, in March of 2007. Leonard was originally charged with operating under the influence of alcohol with serious bodily injury, OUI manslaughter and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. However, after a five-day trial, the jury found him guilty only of vehicular homicide by negligence. That dropped his potential maximum sentence from about 15 years to 2 1/2 years. He will be sentenced Dec. 10.

Prosecutors said Leonard had been drinking on the night of the accident, and was driving behind a friend toward another bar when the accident happened. They were on Route 44 when Leonard’s truck collided with a 1990 Oldsmobile driven by Richard Gould. The crash killed Walker, a passenger in Gould’s car, and flipped over Leonard’s truck. The prosecution and defense disagreed on whether Gould, Leonard or both veered into oncoming traffic, and whether Leonard was speeding. However, it was not disputed that Gould himself had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10. Police at the scene and a bystander said Leonard appeared intoxicated, and police found open beers in the truck. However, Leonard disobeyed police directions to remain on the scene, traveling with his friend to another friend’s home in Providence. He turned himself in the next day.

Read article: Taunton man guilty of vehicular homicide, acquitted of manslaughter in 2007 fatal crash

As a Massachusetts OUI defense attorney, I believe this story is a great example of why drivers charged with OUI shouldn’t assume they’re guilty just because law enforcement says they are. It’s not hard to imagine that Leonard might have felt hopeless at the beginning of his case. Not only did a young woman lose her life, but police accused Leonard of drinking, speeding and swerving into oncoming traffic, charges that could have put him in prison for more than a decade. Those accusations might seem pretty damning — but as this case shows, more information can make a big difference in the outcome of a case. Leonard’s Massachusetts drunk driving defense lawyer successfully challenged the police accident reconstruction with an expert of their own. And the lack of firm evidence that Leonard was drunk at the time was apparently enough to raise reasonable doubts — the standard for a criminal conviction — in the minds of the jurors. Cases like this show why it’s so important to speak with an attorney before pleading guilty in any OUI case.

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A young woman is charged with DUI in a crash that police say froze the car’s speedometer at 85 mph, in a 30-mph zone. According to an Oct. 21 article in the Winchester Star, police say 18-year-old Diamond Mason and her passenger, an unnamed 22-year-old woman, are lucky to be alive after they crashed into a stone wall and a tree. The police report said Mason and her passenger were returning from a party at around 12:22 a.m., traveling at very high speeds, when Mason failed to make a turn on Winchester’s Main Street. Instead, her car jumped the curb, crossed the sidewalk and hit a stone-capped cement wall in the front yard of a private home. The crash didn’t stop the car, but sent it 18 feet into another section of wall, knocking the wall out of the ground. The car then hit a tree before coming to a stop.

In addition to the damage to the wall and the lawn, the crash caused severe damage to the car, littering the yard with car parts and contents and splitting the front end in half. The crash also knocked out the engine block and transmission, which were on fire when police arrived. The airbags in the car had deployed and were splattered with blood. Both occupants were knocked out of the vehicle. The 22-year-old passenger appeared to have a broken or dislocated leg; Mason said later that she had a possibly broken ankle, a cut to her head and a knee injury. The passenger said she had been drinking at the party and had passed out in the car, but Mason denied having had more than a sip of alcohol. Nonetheless, she was charged with OUI causing serious bodily injury; driving to endanger; failing to stay within her lane and speeding.

Read article: Speedometer freezes at 85 mph after Winchester OUI crash

I am glad to read that both of these young women seem to be all right after this serious accident. It’s not clear from the article what evidence the police might have for the OUI charge against Mason. If there is no breath or blood test or other reliable evidence, a Massachusetts drunk driving defense attorney may be able to successfully defend the charge. But even if that’s not possible, I suspect, given Mason’s age and probable lack of prior offenses, that she would be a strong candidate for the alternative disposition/24D program for first-time DUI defendants. Instead of possible jail time and thousands in fines, participants are sentenced to a mandatory alcohol education program that they must pay for; up to two years of probation; $600-plus in fines and fees; and a license suspension of 210 days (45 to 90 days for drivers over 21). Defendants who get their cases continued without a finding will not have a criminal record but they will still have a court record showing that they “got a break” earlier in life. However, with help from a Massachusetts DUI defense attorney, they can avoid some of the inappropriately harsh consequences of conventional conviction.

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A man from Attleboro is charged with OUI, motor vehicle homicide, OUI with serious bodily injury, speeding and negligent operation of a motor vehicle after a serious one-car crash in Bourne, the Boston Globe reported Oct. 19. Shawn Potrzuski, 32, is accused of killing his stepfather, 46-year-old Robert Coffey, and seriously injuring his mother, Karen Coffey, when he lost control of his Dodge Durango in a rotary, causing him to run off the road and into a tree. Potrzuski was treated at the scene for minor injuries. The family was reportedly coming home from a wedding. Police said both alcohol and speed were factors; Richard Coffey was not wearing a seat belt, but Karen Coffey was.

Read article: North Attleborough man dies, stepson faces charges in crash

The article doesn’t note whether Potrzuski’s breath or blood was tested or what other evidence law enforcement may have to support the OUI charge, making it difficult to speculate on how a Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer might defend him. But under the circumstances, the criminal charges may not be the most important thing on Potrzuski’s mind. This crash killed Potrzuski’s stepfather and seriously injured his mother, something that would greatly upset most people. While criminal charges may be legally appropriate, the outcome of the crash may be punishment enough in itself for many drivers.

If the evidence that Potrzuski was driving drunk is weak, incomplete or tainted, he may be able to fight the OUI-related charges on those grounds. (Of course, that is also true of the other charges.) But even if that evidence is strong, an experienced Massachusetts drunk driving defense attorney may be able to show a judge or jury enough doubt in the district attorney’s case to get an acquittal for his client.

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A 47-year-old mother was killed and her daughter and a friend were injured in a serious drunk driving accident in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Patriot Ledger of Quincy reported Sept. 22. Timothy George of Brockton, Massachusetts was allegedly drunk and high on cocaine when he hit a vehicle driven by Elizabeth Oldrid. According to the article, police believe George was driving at 70 mph down Route 14 in Plymouth — where the speed limit is 45 mph — at around 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. He was seen passing other vehicles before swerving into oncoming traffic, where he hit Oldrid’s vehicle, killing her at the scene. Her 17-year-old daughter, Alexandria Oldrid, was treated and released from a hospital. A 15-year-old friend, Savannah Alexander, was hospitalized in fair condition in Boston.

At the scene, officers said George, 32, smelled of alcohol and had glassy eyes and slurred speech. They found cocaine and a device for snorting cocaine in his possession. He was arrested and charged with two counts of negligent homicide by motor vehicle — one for driving drunk and one for operating under the influence of drugs. His other charges include DUI with serious bodily injury; drug possession; speeding; and illegal passing. He was arraigned Sept. 21 and pleaded not guilty, then held on $20,000 bail.

Read article: Judge sets $20,000 bail for Brockton man accused in fatal Pembroke crash

My experience as a Massachusetts DUI defense attorney suggests that at least part of this case will be difficult to defend at trial. If the reports in the article are true, there are witnesses who can testify that George was speeding and passing — and police found the cocaine in his possession. However, the DUI case, be it drugs or alcohol, might be harder to prove. In order to convict a driver of OUI drugs, the prosecution must prove that the driver took drugs, and that those drugs impaired the driver. Impairment is not always easy to prove, especially if the driver was also allegedly drunk, as in this case. Similarly, the prosecution must also prove impairment by alcohol to get a drunk driving conviction — and having had some drinks is not the same as driving while impaired. An experienced Massachusetts drunk driving defense lawyer will argue points like these in defense of his client.

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Braintree police plan to charge a Holbrook, Massachusetts man with operating under the influence of alcohol and failure to stay in marked lanes, the Holbrook Sun reported Sept. 8. The charges stem from a crash in which the unnamed 36-year-old man hit another car Sept. 3. According to a spokesman for the Braintree police, the man allegedly drifted out of his lane and hit the driver’s side of a car traveling in the opposite direction, before stopping on the sidewalk and a nearby lawn. The driver who was hit, a 48-year-old man from Fall River, and his three child passengers were not seriously hurt. However, the Holbrook man was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening cuts to the head.

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Charges against Holbrook man sought in traffic crash

The Holbrook man is lucky that nobody was seriously hurt in this accident. As a Massachusetts DUI defense attorney, I believe the penalties for drunk driving in Massachusetts are severe, but they get much more severe when the charge is increased to OUI with serious bodily injury. (A serious bodily injury creates a substantial risk of death, leaves the victim permanent disabled or robs the victim of a bodily function for a substantial period of time.) On a first offense, people charged with intoxicated driving may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 2 1/2 years, but with the help of an experienced Massachusetts OUI defense lawyer, most offenders have a good chance of getting probation instead through alternative disposition. By contrast, 2 1/2 years in prison, six months of which must be served, is the minimum penalty for a conviction for drunk driving with serious bodily injury. And in cases like this one, in which children are victims, juries are generally not kind to defendants.

However, because the injuries in this case were only minor, the Holbrook man may have strong defenses available. The article does not specify whether the man’s blood-alcohol content was tested. If it was not tested, the charge may be based solely on the officer’s statement that the man had alcohol on his breath. As I have written here in the past, that statement is in nearly every DUI-related police report in the state. A good Massachusetts drunk driving defense attorney should point that out to a jury and explain that a smell of alcohol does not, by itself, meet the standards for an operating under the influence charge in our state — a blood-alcohol content of 0.08%.

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Emilio Bicalho was arrested Saturday after hitting a pedestrian with his motor vehicle in a crosswalk. The forty six year old Framingham, Massachusetts man admitted to the police that he had consumed two beers earlier that day. Eyewitnesses stated that the impact of the collision caused the victim to fall on the hood of the van and then hit the ground. Police stated that Bicalho smelled like alcohol and had glassy and bloodshot eyes. He was charged with OUI and Driving Without a License. The case is pending in the Framingham District Court.

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Massachusetts Man Hits Pedestrian, Admits To Drinking Two Beers And Gets Charged With DUI

If this article is accurate and detailed the district attorney might have a hard time proving this case. Every police report generated after an OUI arrest states that the suspect smelled like alcohol and had glassy and bloodshot eyes. That this was reported in this case is no surprise. I would be surprised to see a police report pertaining to a DUI case that does not make that statement. Good defense lawyers in Massachusetts are quick to point this out to juries and make sure that the jurors do not use this contention as a determinative factor in their deliberations. The ingestion of two beers is never enough to prove impairment. Two beers consumed without being metabolized at all yield a blood alcohol content of .04 or one half the legal limit. There were no field sobriety tests given and there was no breathalyzer test taken. This does not add up to a conviction for OUI in Massachusetts.

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Last Friday Peter Koshivas of Holliston, Massachusetts crashed his Honda Civic into a tree just after 1:00 in the morning. His passenger, Benjamin Snow was injured in the crash and taken to the hospital by helicopter. Police stated that both Koshivas and Snow are luck to be alive. Koshivas will be charged with OUI Serious Bodily Injury, Reckless Driving and related Motor Vehicle Charges. The case will be prosecuted in the Framingham District Court. The article was not specific on the details of the crash.

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Holliston, Massachusetts Man Who Injured Friend In Crash To Be Prosecuted For DUI, Other Motor Vehicle Crimes

The article reported that Koshivas was also injured in the crash. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that he never took the field sobriety tests nor did he take a breathalyzer test. I would imagine that blood was taken from him at the hospital and that it has been tested for the presence of alcohol. As I have mentioned in prior posts the blood must be taken and tested in certain ways to avoid the possibility of a false positive result. Absent any eyewitness testimony the prosecution will probably base its case on Koshivas’ blood test results and an accident reconstruction. The accident reconstruction simply buttresses the district attorney’s case provided they have an alcohol sample that reads a .08 or higher. If not, the OUI aspect of this case is harder to prove.

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This past Saturday Nicko Castaneda was driving a Saturn in Framingham, Massachusetts. Just after 3:00 p.m. Castaneda rear ended a man on a motorcycle on School Street. Apparently the man was attempting to take a turn into the Walgreen’s parking lot on that street. The impact of the crash sent the victim about seventy two feet before it and the Saturn stopped. The motorcycle was found partially underneath Castaneda’s car. When the police arrived at the accident scene they noticed that Castaneda had trouble standing. He admitted to drinking eight beers. A breathalyzer test was administered. The result showed that Castaneda had a blood alcohol content of .21, more than two and one half times the legal limit. The victim suffered serious injuries. Castaneda was charged with OUI Second Offense, OUI Serious Bodily Injury and Operating to Endanger. The case is pending in the Framingham District Court. Bail was set at one thousand dollars.

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Framingham Man Charged With Second Offense DUI

Castaneda is in a lot of trouble. Just this past February he was convicted of his First Offense OUI in the Dedham District Court. For that case the best scenario would have been a “24D” disposition wherein the case was continued without a finding for one year and certain statutorily mandated probationary conditions. Now however the probation department in Dedham will likely move to surrender Castaneda. A judge can convert the continuance without a finding to a guilty and impose a two and one half year jail sentence. On the new case the defendant is looking at a second offender disposition or a mandatory thirty day jail sentence and a potential two and one half year jail sentence.

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