A Concord District Court jury today found Attorney Chris Spring’s client not guilty of operating under the influence of alcohol.
At approximately 5:00 a.m. on a July morning in 2018, a Concord police officer was driving around the Concord Rotary near the state prison. As the officer exited the rotary, he saw the defendant’s car slowly driving toward him in the wrong lane of traffic. The officer stopped his cruiser and activated his emergency lights. The defendant continued to drive toward the officer and ultimately ran into him. After the collision, the defendant parked his car. The officer got out of his cruiser and had a conversation with the defendant, who was still sitting in his car. The officer noticed the defendant’s eyes were bloodshot and glassy and he smelled strongly like an alcoholic beverage. His shirt also appeared to be covered with vomit. The defendant admitted he had been drinking at a party in Waltham and said he was driving home to Acton. The officer ordered the defendant to get out of his car and requested that he participate in field sobriety tests.
The defendant was able to get out of his car with no problem, but his performance on the field sobriety tests was terrible. The officer asked him to do the nine-step walk and turn test, which required the defendant to walk in a straight line for nine steps, touching heel to toe, and then turn around and walk back nine steps walking heel to toe. The defendant walked out 14 steps, did not touch heel to toe, and nearly lost his balance several times. He was equally unsteady on his walk back. The officer then asked him to perform the one-legged stand test, which required the defendant to stand still, raise one leg six inches off the ground, and count to 30. The defendant was unable to keep his foot in the air and lost his balance during the test. The officer arrested the defendant and transported him to the police station. During the booking process, the defendant blew into the Breathalyzer machine and registered a .15 (nearly twice the legal limit of .08).
At trial, Attorney Spring introduced photos of the location where the officer conducted the field sobriety tests, which was on the solid yellow line that separated the two lanes of Route 2 near the Concord Rotary. The officer admitted that while the defendant was attempting to perform the tests in the middle of the road, cars were continuing to drive past him in both directions. The officer also agreed with Attorney Spring that the spotlights from the prison were shining on the defendant as he was attempting to perform the tests. The defendant testified and told the jury he was distracted by the bright lights and oncoming traffic when he was attempting to perform the tests, which is why he lost his balance. He also told the jury he had left the party in Waltham after his friend vomited on him and he panicked when he saw the police lights because he grew up in a country where the police force brutalized his family. Attorney Spring showed the jury parts of the booking video where the defendant walked steadily into the station and followed the instructions of the booking officer. Attorney Spring argued his client’s failure on the field sobriety tests was the result of a stressful environment, not intoxication. Before the trial started, Attorney Spring successfully moved to exclude the Breathalyzer result, so the jury never learned the defendant blew a .15.
Following three hours of deliberations, the jury found the defendant not guilty of operating under the influence of alcohol.