A six-vehicle accident in Quincy triggered OUI charges against a 31-year-old woman in the evening of Nov. 18. Hayley Damp of Hingham is accused of reckless driving and operating under the influence of both alcohol and drugs in connection with the crash. According to the Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Damp rear-ended a Dodge while driving south on Washington Street. That crash triggered a chain reaction, with the Dodge hitting a Nissan Pathfinder that then hit a Honda Accord. Damp, meanwhile, turned across opposing traffic and into a parking lot, where she hit a parked and unoccupied car before driving into the front of a tire store. Damp had minor injuries; also hurt were 33-year-old Heather Gateley of Weymouth and 24-year-old Elizabeth Aiello of Quincy. Other victims’ names were not available. Officers said they found Damp carrying prescription drugs, as well as two bottles of wine, one mostly empty, in a cooler inside her vehicle.
Read article: Police: Drunken driver causes 6-car crash
As a Massachusetts OUI defense attorney, I’d like to know more about the prescription drug police found in Damp’s possession. Many people don’t realize this, but it’s perfectly possible to be charged with operating under the influence of drugs in Massachusetts, even if the prescription is legal, as long as you are impaired by the drug while operating a motor vehicle. Painkillers, sleep aids and sedatives can fall into this category — but the laws of Massachusetts do not specifically say that certain drugs are illegal to use while driving. That means prosecutors often have to find experts to testify at trial as to the effects of the drug and a person’s symptoms while under the influence of the drug. If they do not, they risk an acquittal or dropped charges.
I would also be interested in knowing more about the amount of alcohol in Damp’s blood. Many prescription drugs heighten the effects of alcohol. When drivers don’t realize this, they can drink what they believe is a safe amount, then find themselves more intoxicated than they expected when it’s time to go home. It’s not impossible for these drivers to end up with a blood-alcohol concentration below 0.08, the legal limit, and still feel the effects as if they had drunk more. Depending on the circumstances, this may offer another defense, at least in the hands of an experienced Massachusetts drunk driving defense lawyer.
Based in downtown Boston, the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman represents clients facing OUI charges in greater Boston and all of eastern Massachusetts. If you’re charged with drunk driving or related crimes, including an RMV license suspension, don’t hesitate to call and learn how our office can help. To set up a consultation, you can send a message through the Web site or call (617) 263-6800 today.