Following a two-day trial, an Ayer District Court jury took less than an hour this morning to find Attorney Chris Spring’s client not guilty of operating under the influence of alcohol or while his blood alcohol content was .08 or higher.
The client’s problems began when he was driving on Massachusetts Avenue in Boxborough in the middle of a night in May. A police cruiser pulled up behind him and began closely following him. The cop watched as the client repeatedly crossed over the double yellow line. After following the client for about a minute, the officer decided to stop the client. When the cop approached the vehicle, he could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from inside. The client initially denied drinking but later acknowledge consuming three beers before getting behind the wheel. The officer ordered him to park his car near the fire station parking lot and submit to several field sobriety tests. Attorney Spring had previously visited the location and taken pictures showing the parking lot was on a slight incline and there were many areas where the pavement was cracked.
As the cop began instructing the client about performing the field sobriety tests, the client told him he was suffering from a panic attack (which was not an uncommon occurrence). The cop gave him a few minutes to calm down and catch his breath before administering the tests. The testing then began, with the client being asked to perform the nine-step walk and turn test. This test requires the subject to walk in a straight line for nine steps, while touching heel to toe, turn around using baby steps, and return on the same straight line in the same heel-to-toe posture. The cop concluded that Attorney Spring’s client did not adequately touch his heels to his toes, and raised his arms for balance. Accordingly, the cop concluded the client had failed the test. The second test was the one-legged stand exercise, which asks the subject to stand still with one foot six inches off the ground while the subject counts to 30. Our client initially counted to 7 and put his foot down. However, he attempted the test a second time and reached 23. Nevertheless, the cop concluded Attorney Spring’s client also failed this test.
The client was arrested and brought to the police station. He blew a .08 on the Breathalyzer, which is over the legal limit in Massachusetts. So, with erratic operation, failed field sobriety tests, and a higher than acceptable Breathalyzer reading, how did Attorney Spring win the case? He highlighted all of the things his client did perfectly well during his encounter with the police. He was able to pull his car to the side of the road in an appropriate fashion. He was able to find and produce his license and registration. He was able to communicate with the officer and follow directions. When he got out of the car, he didn’t stumble or fall down. He was able to walk to the testing area. He performed the tests in an admirable fashion, given his environment. Nothing about his physical performance on the tests suggested he was drunk. And while it’s true the BT machine registered a .08 reading, the cop who testified was forced to admit there is a build-in margin of error of .02 in Breathalyzer analysis. So if the client blew a .08, he could have really been a .07 or even a .06 (or, alternatively, he could have been a .09 or .10). Given that the Breathalyzer produces only an estimate of a reading, the jury could not find the Commonwealth had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Attorney Spring has tried countless OUI cases in Massachusetts, first as a prosecutor and now as a defense attorney. If you are charged with OUI, please call Attorney Spring at (617) 513-9444 to schedule a free consultation to review your options.