Whether you've been driving in Massachusetts for a short time or have carried a valid driver's license here for years, you and all other motorists are obligated to adhere to existing traffic laws and safety regulations every time you (or they) get behind the wheel of a car to drive. Police officers help keep travelers safe; however, if one happens to suspect you of a criminal offense while driving, he or she can also make your life take a turn for the worse.
For instance, if you drink a beer, drive somewhere, and a police officer pulls you over for speeding and smells the beer on your breath, he or she may pursue the matter further by asking you to take a field sobriety or preliminary alcohol-screening test. Do you know your rights? Regarding possible OUI charges, the more you understand ahead of time, the better.
Implied consent laws apply to OUI stops
You have the option to refuse a police officer's request to take a field sobriety test. In fact, you have the option to refuse a Breathalyzer or chemical test as well, but not without automatic administrative repercussions due to implied consent laws in this state. The following information further explains the issue as well as other important OUI law facts:
- When you received a valid driver's license in Massachusetts, you agreed to take any Breathalyzer or chemical test a law enforcement agent lawfully requests. If you don't comply with the agreement you signed, you will likely incur administrative penalties that may include temporary driver's license suspension or perhaps permanent revocation.
- The per se blood alcohol content level in this state is the same as most. If you submit to a chemical test that shows a BAC of .08 or higher, the law considers you legally intoxicated and prohibited from operating a motor vehicle.
- If you face OUI charges and it's a first offense, and you refused a chemical or Breathalyzer test during the investigation, the state may suspend your license for an entire year.
- On a first offense in this state, it's sometimes possible to obtain a lesser suspension if you agree to attend an alcohol education program.
- The outcome of your situation depends on various factors, including whether you were involved in a collision and whether that collision resulted in another person's injury or death.
You may also be able to exert influence over your situation by tapping into available support resources as soon as possible following an arrest. Building a strong defense against OUI charges often begins at the scene of a traffic stop. By paying close attention to everything the officer says and does, you can challenge any deviance from protocol that violates your rights.
Not every OUI stop leads to arrest and not every arrest leads to conviction. While a traffic stop can ruin an otherwise good day, it needn't necessarily ruin the rest of your life if you know your rights and where to turn for support if a problem arises.