Last Wednesday night Carlos Catala struck a sheriff’s vehicle with his car sometime around 10:00 p.m. in Dedham, Massachusetts. The car was parked at a construction site on Route 1. When police arrived Catala was sitting in the front seat of his car. It was reported that he smelled of alcohol. He was given field sobriety tests which officers claim he failed. Catala was charged with OUI. He pleaded not guilty in the Dedham District Court.
Absent a legitimate excuse for the accident, the odor of alcohol and the failed field sobriety tests Catala is going to have a hard time successfully defending against these charges. Traffic is typically lighter in the evening and the cause of accidents is more apt to be the fault of the defendant, not another person. Trying to explain otherwise to a jury or judge is difficult particularly where the smell of booze is present and the field sobriety results are unfavorable. These cases are usually resolved through plea bargaining. The result is usually a continuance without a finding with a “24D” disposition. Catala will have to enroll and complete the alcohol education program, pay fines, report to probation for a year and have his license suspended for forty five days. He will be eligible to apply for a hardship license. I would suspect restitution for the damage caused to the sheriff’s vehicle will also be a condition of his probation.