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Acushnet Ave. in New Bedford was closed earlier this week for a church sponsored procession. During the closure a woman turned onto the street, jumping a curb and colliding into the front of a house. New Bedford police identified the driver as 65 year old, Sharon Lee Fernandes. Fernandes was determined to be high at the time of the incident and faces charged including OUI, failure to stop for police and leaving the scene of a crash.
OUI, Drug arrests are becoming more common in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, particularly with the changes in the laws regarding the legality of use of marijuana for both medical and recreational use, and the prevalence thought the Commonwealth of the use and abuse of narcotic medications.
Many individuals ask how it can be illegal to operate a motor vehicle when they are simply using a medication that was otherwise lawfully prescribed by a certified physician. The simple answer: regardless of the legality of the use of a particular substance, Massachusetts General Laws chapter 90, section 24 prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle on a public way, when the operators ability to operate the vehicle safely is impaired by the ingestion of intoxicating alcohol or drugs. Therefore, driving while under the influence of a legal substance, remains a violation of the statute regardless of whether use of the substance would be otherwise lawful. The offense is related to the unsafe operation of a motor vehicle, on a public way, in the Commonwealth.
Given the evolving area of law, investigators have utilized “Drug Evaluation Experts” to supplement their investigation when ascertaining whether to charge someone with OUI, Drugs. The Drug Evaluation Experts will utilize methods similar to standardized field sobriety tests to evaluate an individuals’ mental faculties, balance, and appearance to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely was impaired by the ingestion of an intoxicating substance.
In Commonwealth v. Carpinto, the Massachusetts Appeals Court recently found that, the arresting officer is not required to identify the specific substance in support of probable cause. However, the Commonwealth would be required to satisfy a higher burden of proof – beyond a reasonable doubt – to sustain a conviction for OUI, Drugs.
If you, or someone you care about has been charged with OUI, Drugs it is imperative you speak to a Massachusetts Attorney that specializes in OUI, Drugs Defense. Call Attorney Vincent A. Tofani now for your free consultation at 617.886.0500.