Recently in Traffic/Driving Offenses Category

Recent Supreme Judicial Court(SJC) decisions help clarify the new law which decriminalizes possession of an ounce or less of marijuana

April 6, 2013,

The new law which makes it legal to possess an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use has left many confused as to what is legal when it comes to possessing or using marijuana. Possession of any amount of marijuana with the intent to distribute is still a crime. Growing marijuana in any amount is still a crime. Possession of drug paraphernalia, such as a pipe, grinder or any other type of smoking device when possessed with marijuana is still a crime.

The supreme judicial Court has recently decided a some cases which help clarify some gray areas that existed.

The first case involved the police searching the backpack of a young man after witnessing him share a marijuana joint with others in public. The District Attorney's Office argued that the police had the right to search the backpack without a warrant based on their observations of him sharing marijuana with others. The Supreme Court ruled the search of the backpack without a warrant was illegal. The ruling makes it clear that sharing a joint with others is not considered distribution of marijuana and that such an offense is merely a civil infraction which does not open the door for the police to search a person or his property further. So this means that police are limited in their ability to search when encountering a civil marijuana infraction. As a side note approximately 23 grams of marijuana was found in the backpack which is less than an ounce, but the marijuana was packaged in ten small baggies leading the police to charge possession with the intent distribute. Evidence used by police to prove intent to distribute is usually the amount of drugs, manner in which it is packaged, large amounts of currency or cell phones/beepers, scales, baggies or any other evidence of distribution.

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Salem police are seeking a man from Jamaica Plain who beat his girlfriend and dragged her in his car

December 30, 2011,

On December 29, 2011 Salem Massachusetts a young couple was an argument while driving down Federal Street witnesses say the man began to beat his 18-year-old girlfriend in the car. When someone approached the vehicle to help the young woman tried to exit the car and got her legs stuck on the seat the driver took off dragging his girlfriend 400 feet down the road.

The woman eventually broke free the man drove over her left arm breaking it. Soon police found the woman with visible injuries on her face and road rash on her right side, her left arm was broken.

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Weymouth woman charged with drunk driving after driving wrong way down Morrissey Boulevard and crashing into state trooper

June 2, 2011,

Cara Dellabarba, 28, of Weymouth attempt to drive home after celebrating a friend's 30th birthday party at the old colony yacht club in Dorchester. She ended up driving the wrong way down Morrissey Boulevard and striking a state trooper's vehicle while he was inside it. Her car then drove over a traffic island and its is reported she attempted to drive away but the car was disabled.

She admitted to the state trooper that she drank a lot while at the club and stated that she realizes what happened but can she be allowed to go home. The state trooper suffered minor injuries from his vehicle being struck. Since January 1, 2010, 45 state troopers have been injured by motorists, half of these accidents have been caused by people operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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Amorello admits to operating under the influence (OUI) in Haverhill district court related to a car crash in August

November 30, 2010,

Matt Amorello the former chairman of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority admitted in Haverhill district court to operating under the influence related to a car crash back in August in which he struck two parked vehicles and then continued to try and drive his vehicle after one of the wheels had fallen off. He refused the breathalyzer at the time, causing a loss of license for 180 days and today received a further 45 day loss of license after making his admission.

Amorello was charged with Operating under the influence in Massachusetts, as a first time offender he is eligible to receive an alternative disposition which allows for a person to waive his rights to a trial and make an admission at which time a Judge may not find him guilty but rather continue the case without a finding (known as a CWOF) usually for a one year period in which the person is on probation. An alcohol class must be completed, it is essentially a drunk driving course which is one evening a week for approximately sixteen weeks. The drunk driving charge carries fines and fees totaling close to one thousand dollars. Once a person signs up for the Alcohol course they then can apply for a hardship license also known as a Cinderella license which allows a driver to drive for a twelve hour period every day. If the person pays all the fines and completes the program and probation without picking up any new charges the case will be dismissed at the end of the term of probation.

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Drunk to stay warm defense works against drunk driving charge

November 30, 2010,

A Missouri man whose car slipped off an icy road had to wait two hours before emergency workers arrived to help him. When police arrived they found him intoxicated. A jury found him not guilty based on his testifying that he did not drink alcohol before driving but only after he slipped off the icy road and was waiting for help. He drank to keep warm until help arrived.

In Massachusetts the Commonwealth to prove operating under the influence, or OUI, (DUI), has to show that you were impaired by alcohol and were driving on a public way while impaired. Usually this evidence comes in the form of a police officer observing how a suspect was driving, then pulling the person over and testifying to how that person appeared, smelled, acted and what he said during the stop and field sobriety tests. It is not usual for such a long period of time to pass between an accident and when help arrives that a person can claim that the act of drinking took place after the accident while awaiting the police.

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