As a Massachusetts OUI defense attorney, a recent news story caught my eye. The Salem News reported that a 57-year-old Danvers man was arrested for drunk driving for the eighth time and was held without bail after a dangerousness hearing. If convicted, this would represent a seventh DUI conviction for him, which would have serious, life-changing penalties like mandatory prison time and the lifetime loss of his driver’s license. Fortunately, he has a Massachusetts drunk driving attorney, who should look carefully at the evidence that police and the district attorney are presenting.
According to the police, on August 29, an anonymous caller told them that the driver of a Chevy Silverado truck was drunk and was headed to Merchant Liquors on High Street for more alcohol. Police set out to look for the truck and were unable to find it. Then Patrolman Scott Frost encountered Joel Grissom, 57, of Danvers, driving his Silverado at about 5 mph near his home around 1:30 in the afternoon. Frost said he observed Grissom stop his truck in the middle of the road and then take about two minutes to pull into the parking lot of his condominium complex. Frost said that Grissom smelled strongly of alcohol. There was an open, cold container of Budweiser in the truck, and Grissom was unable to stand without holding onto the truck’s door. Grissom allegedly said that he had been drinking. He failed a field sobriety test in which Frost told him to recite the alphabet. A breathalyzer test showed his blood alcohol content to be .33, well over the legal limit of .08. Grissom was arrested and charged with a fifth or subsequent OUI offense and with having an open container of alcohol.
After describing Grissom as “a high-functioning drunk,” Salem District Court Judge Richard Mori ordered him held without bail because Mori considered Grissom a danger to himself and others.
Read article: No bail for convict in many DUIs
As a Massachusetts drunk driving defense attorney, I am glad that this defendant has legal counsel to defend him from the very serious charges he faces. A fifth or subsequent OUI carries mandatory prison time, among other penalties. Grissom’s last two OUI convictions, in 2001 and 2002, were made before the “lifetime look back” law took effect, so he still had a valid license at the time of his August 29 arrest. But if convicted on the current charge, he would lose his license for the rest of his life. He would also pay fines up to $50,000, and face a mandatory two-year minimum jail sentence.
Even if Grissom is not convicted, the outcome of his dangerousness hearing already presents a hardship. Under Massachusetts law, judges can deny bail and keep drivers in jail until trial if they are charged with an OUI after having been convicted for drunk driving in the past three or more times. Such suspects may be kept in jail for up to 90 days before a trial must be held. Three months in jail awaiting trial is a long time, especially when it comes before any conviction. Even if the suspect is found innocent or the charges are dismissed, being kept in jail for 90 days could cause suspects to lose their jobs and other time-dependent commitments. If the suspect can’t work and earn money, he or she may not be able to keep up with rent or mortgage payments, and have nowhere to live by the time the 90 days are up. And what if there’s no one else to take care of their children or pets? If a suspect in this case is found not guilty or their charges are dismissed, being locked up for dangerousness still extracts a steep price.
This case demonstrates why it’s essential to mount the best defense you can in all parts of an intoxicated driving case. Anyone accused of a crime with serious penalties like seventh-offense OUI should call an experienced Massachusetts intoxicated driving criminal defense lawyer like attorney Stephen Neyman right away. For help defending yourself against OUI charges in Boston and all of eastern Massachusetts, please call the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, located in downtown Boston, at (617) 263-6800. You can also contact us online.