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Can Blood Tests be Successfully Challenged in OUI cases?

Drunk driving cases are unique in that there is usually little to no physical evidence. In a theft, for example, the prosecution will try to show the stolen property was in the possession of the accused. In OUI/DUI cases, the main questions center around how much alcohol was present in the blood. To determine this, the police collect blood samples and run tests on them.

Blood samples are tested through a process called gas chromatography. This is a complex process that has the potential to yield reliable results, but only if the correct procedures and standards are followed. Often times they are not and it is the job of a highly trained OUI attorney to uncover these any flaws in the procedure and use that to challenge the results. Unfortunately, most attorneys are not aware that these tests can be successfully challenged.

Common Challenges to Blood Evidence

Bad Lab Technicians

Blood tests are conducted by humans and are subject to human error and bias. Many state crime labs are horribly under-staffed causing the technicians to take shortcuts and liberties with the testing. In some cases, results are submitted without any testing at all.

Remember Annie Dookhan? She was a technician at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Boston who admitted to tampering with evidence and forging test results. Last year more than 20,000 convictions were dropped because her evidence could not be trusted. The saddest part of all of this is that many people went to jail, paid fines, had their licenses suspended, and face humiliation because of this bad evidence.

Contamination of the Samples

There are very specific guidelines for handling blood samples which police and crime labs must follow to ensure the integrity of the samples. Deviating from those protocols can result in contamination. Here are some questions that need to be asked:

  • Is there a clear chain of custody?
  • Were the procedures documented correctly?
  • Were the tubes transported under the correct protocols?
  • Were the samples stored under the proper temperature?
  • Were the tubes shaken properly by the technician?

If these procedures were not followed correctly, this may be grounds to challenge the results of the blood test.

Calibration

Testing machines and instruments need to be maintained to ensure they are working properly. Part of that maintenance is making sure the machines are calibrated correctly. This calibration needs to be done as per a predefined schedule which needs to be documented. If the equipment was not calibrated correctly, it could cause the results to be compromised. Just think of the old analog bathroom scales. If the dial is not set to zero, the end result will not be reliable.

Documentation

Even if the testing was done correctly, it has no scientific standing if the procedures were not correctly documented. Without proper documentation, the evidence would be based on “an act of trust”. This is against scientific and legal standards.

Does your Attorney Know how to Challenge Blood Tests?

Not every attorney knows the science behind DUI blood testing. This is not taught in law school. Learning this science takes many years of dedicated study. Attorney Michael Bowser is Board Certified DUI Defense Specialist who has gone through rigorous examinations to earn this certification. He knows the forensic science involved in these cases. Most other lawyers do not.

Call 888-526-9737 now for a free case consultation.

Important Information for Massachusetts Teachers who are facing OUI charges

One of the most common questions from teachers who have been charged with an OUI/DUI offense is how it will affect their employment status. There is certainly cause for concern in this regards as there are policies in place which give the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education authority to access information about these charges and use it to make determinations about the eligibility of applicants.

 

If you are a teacher facing an OUI, there are two main concerns when it comes to your future as a teacher:

 

  1. Making sure your educator license does not get revoked, limited or suspended.
  2. Making sure your criminal history stays clear so that future employers do not see the conviction and use it as grounds not to hire you.

 

How an OUI can affect the status of your educators license

Under the CORI (criminal offender record information) policy, The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is authorized by the Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB) to access conviction and pending criminal case data for the purpose of screening license applicants as well as current holders of education licenses. The Department will then make a judgment on the suitability of the applicant. The Department has the right to refuse to license the individual or to take action to revoke, limit or suspend the individual’s license.

 

What this means is depending on the nature of the offense and your prior history, an OUI offense may affect the status of your educators license.

 

How an OUI can affect your employment status for many years to come

Since an OUI offense stays on your criminal history, it will show up on background checks any time you apply to work at a school, no matter which state it is in. Background checks apps and programs are ubiquitous. Teachers, administrators, parents, and even students can easily find out if you have a drunk driving conviction. This can lead to not only a world of embarrassment, but it may also influence administrators not to hire you. In the real world, when there are two applicants, one of which has a clean record and the other has an OUI conviction, which do you think administrators will prefer?

 

This is why it is important that you get the correct legal information about your charge and take steps to fight against a conviction. The important thing to remember is that OUI/DUI cases can be won. An experienced attorney who knows forensic science will be able to set up challenges to the evidence collected.

 

It’s not too late to take the steps to preserve your future. Don’t let your career go to waste over one mistake. Call 888-526-9737 now for your free, detailed case consultation.

Motorcycle riders face increased risks on the road

The thrill of riding on the open road has always been a lure for motorcycle riders. Those who ride, love to ride and are willing to accept the increased risks that come from a lot less protection they would normally have if they were riding in a car or a truck.

Despite helmet laws and extra training that motorcyclists must undergo to make sure they’re as safe as possible, riders do get into accidents with alarming regularity. Because they always tend to play defense on the road, most of the time, accidents are due to the poor decisions made by other drivers.

Just as it is when a car accident takes place, the job of an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer is to prove that an accident took place due to the negligence of the other party. Seeking damages for injuries sustained during an accident can include compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and other similar forms of reimbursement.

While there are many similarities to a car accident, what is different is that often times a judge or a jury will take into account the added level of vigilance motorcycle riders often display, meaning that if there are any questions about fault, they will tend to side with the motorcycle rider in most cases. Courts understand that there is always an added layer of caution that bikers must display due to their increased vulnerability.

While this does give a rider an edge in court, the attorney representing the rider must still show a clear case of negligence existed at the time of the accident and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. The good news is that even in cases where there is no trial, an experienced motorcycle attorney will still have the upper hand in negotiating a settlement with an insurance company.

Bowser Law serves clients in communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Why it makes good sense to hire an attorney after you’ve been in a car accident

There is no such thing as a “minor” car accident. While some are more serious than others, every time two vehicles collide, there is the possibility of injuries, damage and many other unforeseen long-term consequences. A car accident always sets off a series of events that will cost you time, money, and some degree of aggravation.

And when you’re in a more serious accident, the list only grows longer and becomes more complicated. If you’re involved in a car accident where there are injuries or someone dies, or one or more of the vehicles sustains major damage, then the stakes are raised considerably.

Much of the time, you can handle minor accidents on your own, but at some point, you need to take every step you can to protect your legal rights, your property and the health and well-being of you and your loved ones who may be at risk physically, financially and emotionally.

For these reasons, it’s imperative that you seek out a seasoned and skilled car accident attorney to represent your interests. Not only will it bring you peace of mind to know that you now have a strong ally, but you’ll also gain the added perspective of someone who can remove the strong emotions associated with a life event like this, and base decisions and actions going forward on facts.

With an attorney representing you, you’ll be able to focus on the important job of healing yourself while the attorney can focus on helping you to recover the maximum amount of compensation you may be entitled to receive. An attorney will be able to take on large insurance companies, medical providers and attorneys representing the other side, removing much of the anxiety in your life as well.

An attorney can also represent you in negotiations with insurance companies and adjusters who will want to settle your case for as little as possible, despite telling you they want you to be adequately compensated. With an attorney representing you, the playing field can be a level one, meaning you’ll get what you deserve to help you move forward with your life.

Bowser Law serves clients in communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Aggravating factors can make DWI penalties even more severe

In New Hampshire and Massachusetts, if you attempt to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can be charged with DWI (driving while intoxicated) or DUI (driving under the influence). Both charges are essentially the same and can bring some substantial consequences if you are convicted. Those penalties are made even worse if you are charged with an aggravating factor and the offense is bumped up to Aggravated DWI or DUI.

Those aggravating factors include:

  • Exceeding the speed limit by more than 30 mph
  • Driving with a passenger under 16 years old
  • Attempting to elude law enforcement by speeding up, turning off headlights, abandoning a vehicle, or other evasive actions
  • Causing an accident that results in serious bodily injury
  • Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .16% or more

Normally, a person can be charged with DWI or DUI if their blood alcohol content is .08% or more. However, if you are an underage driver (under 21), you can be charged if your blood alcohol content is .02% or more.

Aggravated DWIs are Class A misdemeanors, except when there is serious bodily injury, which enhances the charge to a Class B felony. Fines can range into thousands of dollars and jail sentences of 14 days up to seven years.

Needless to say, if you are charged with Aggravated DWI, you face serious consequences requiring a skilled and experienced defense attorney. The loss of your license can be especially difficult if you hold a commercial license and are required to drive for your job.

Because every case is different, you should immediately contact an attorney after you are charged. Do not make any statements to law enforcement officials until you have had the opportunity to consult with an attorney who will protect your rights and work hard to preserve your freedom.

Bowser Law serves clients in communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Mounting a defense against drug charges

When you are charged with a criminal offense involving drug charges, the resulting repercussions can bring about life-changing consequences, including jail time and significant fines. Zealous law enforcement efforts combined with societal pressures to aggressively go after potential drug offenders can sometimes lead to procedural errors or other mistakes. Just because you are charged with a drug crime, it does not mean you are automatically guilty. There are several drug charge defenses an attorney can employ to help you preserve your freedom. Some of the more commons defenses are:

Entrapment. When law enforcement uses a sting operation, sometimes a suspect is induced to commit a crime they would not have done otherwise. If officers or informants coerce a suspect to commit a crime under these circumstances, the charges can be questioned and possibly dismissed.

Unlawful search and seizure. If inappropriate procedures regarding search and seizure take place, then you may have the basis for a case to be thrown out by the court. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guards against wrongful search and seizure, and exploring all avenues in this regard are quite common in drug cases.

Drug analysis. Drugs that are seized during an arrest must be sent to a crime lab for testing to prove they are what they appear to be. Testing in a clinical setting can sometimes prove that just because a drug may appear to be something in the field, that may not be the case in a clinical setting.

Drugs are not the property of the suspect. One way to fight a drug charge is to deny that you had any knowledge that the drugs in question were in your possession. This might be the case if other people are riding in a vehicle and it is pulled over or if several people have been at a residence and drugs are found at the scene. Raising a reasonable doubt may provide an ample enough defense to have charges dismissed.

Bowser Law serves clients in communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Understanding the differences between DUI, DWI and OUI charges

There are a number of different charges that can be brought against you if you operate a motor vehicle after you have used drugs or alcohol in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. Regardless of which offense you are charged with, you will need an experienced drunk driving defense attorney to help you defend yourself.

There are three primary charges that can be filed against you, and it is important to know and understand the similarities and the differences of each one.

DUI. Driving Under the Influence. If you’re charged with a first offense of DUI, then it will be categorized as an Operating Under the Influence (OUI) offense and can result in harsh penalties. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, most drivers will not receive maximum fines and punishment, but even lesser penalties mean thousands of dollars in fines. To be charged with a DUI, a person must exceed the minimum threshold of .08% blood alcohol level (BAC). Upon conviction, a first-time offender can expect to receive a license suspension of anywhere from 45 to 90 days, one year of probation, and mandatory participation in a 16-week drug and alcohol education program.

OUI. Operating Under the Influence. The standard to be charged with OUI is different than being charged with DUI. With a DUI, you must actually be operating a vehicle while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For an OUI, you can be charged if the keys are in the ignition, even if you pulled off to the side of the road or are caught behind the wheel while not in motion but still under the influence. First-time OUI’s are case specific, meaning that penalties and possible convictions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. While there are no mandatory minimums for jail time, a conviction can bring a license suspension of 45 to 90 days. That increases if a driver refuses to submit to testing under implied consent laws, with suspensions rising to up to 180 days. Fines vary widely but will fall between $500 and $5000 most of the time. Court costs and the costs of completing the sentence will add considerable amounts as well.

DWI. Driving While Intoxicated. This is essentially the same charge as DUI. Sometimes you will see a DUI charge referred to as a DWI. It carries the same penalties as a DUI. In New Hampshire, DWI is related to alcohol, and DUI is related to drugs as the main distinguishing feature between the two charges.

Bowser Law serves clients in communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

If you need to hire a personal injury attorney…

If you’ve been injured in an accident due to someone else’s careless or reckless actions, you will probably have the right to file a suit to collect damages for your pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills and other related expenses. Depending on the severity of your injuries, the stakes could be quite high, with large sums of money attached, so you will need to hire the best possible personal injury attorney to represent your interests.

There are several talented and experienced lawyers you can choose from, and so the task may be a bit daunting up front. To help you make that all-important decision, here are some things to look for as you start your attorney search.

Specialized skills. Personal injury law is vast and there are many attorneys who do nothing except work on very small niches, making them experts in their one small and specialized area of the law. Some attorneys may focus only on car and truck accidents. Others may specialize in boating or construction site accidents. Still, others may focus on premises liability. To give you the best possible advantage, try to find an attorney who has demonstrated specialization that closely matches the circumstances of your particular case.

Experience. You will want to find an attorney who has many years of experience and can draw upon his or her past successes and apply them to give you an edge in your case. You want to see a track record of success in winning cases, and you’ll also want to find an attorney who has experience in seeking levels of compensation similar to what your case might be worth.

An expert negotiator. The vast majority of personal injury cases never reach a judge and jury. Most are settled in advance, sparing all parties the costs and stress of going through a trial. Because that’s the case, you want an attorney who can demonstrate a high level of proficiency when it comes to negotiating the terms of a settlement in cases like yours. However, your attorney must also be ready to go the distance and take a case to trial if negotiations stall or the other side is being unreasonable.

Bowser Law serves clients in communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Protecting your rights after you’ve been in an accident

If you have been in any form of a serious accident, you are going to be rattled and emotionally on edge after the fact. You’ll also have to deal with several different people and agencies, ranging from law enforcement and fire personnel, doctors, insurance providers and attorneys representing the party who is at fault.

If you’ve been injured, then you are going to be feeling overwhelmed as well. Trying to work through what can be a complicated process can test even the hardiest of souls. That’s why it makes good sense to hire an accident lawyer to protect your rights and make sure that you can focus on healing as quickly as possible, allowing you to resume your normal life at the earliest possible time.

An attorney who specializes in handling accident cases will be able to draw upon years of experience and keep a bad situation from becoming even worse. They will aggressively defend your rights and defend your interests, making sure that any financial impacts as a result of your accident do not work against you.

An accident attorney’s value starts immediately because that is when you will be contacted by the other side’s insurance company, opening the possibility for negotiations to find a way to settle any damages, pain and suffering or medical bills you have incurred. Insurance companies must pay attention to their bottom line and will seek a fast and low settlement amount which you might be tempted to accept without someone negotiating on your behalf. Because an attorney deals with insurance companies all the time, they will be able to represent your interests from a position of strength, helping you to realize the maximum amount you may be entitled to.

An attorney will also bring objectivity to your situation. Removing the emotional quotient will allow for clear-headed decision making and will help to resolve your case in the shortest time possible.

Bowser Law serves clients in communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Understanding the basics of personal injury law

If you have been injured due to the recklessness or careless actions of another person, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills and other related expenses. Cases such as this fall under the broad umbrella known as personal injury law.

Your injury can come about as a result of a car accident, a slip and fall, poorly lit conditions, or any number of ways that can result in everything from scrapes and broken bones, to more serious injuries requiring long-term medical care.

To prove you are entitled to damages in a personal injury case, you and your attorney must show that the other party was negligent in their actions. There are four parts to proving negligence:

  1. It must be proven that the defendant had an obligation to provide a reasonable level of care. For example, if they are driving, they must obey the speed limit and not drive drunk.
  2. It must be proved that the defendant breached their duty of care. Driving drunk, or failing to keep a common area free from tripping hazards when they are known to exist are common examples of a breach of care.
  3. It must be proved that the defendant’s actions or failure to act, was a direct cause of the conditions that led to the injury. Speeding on a freeway that a plaintiff is also on, with witnesses that can attest to the illegal driving, provide such proof.
  4. It must be shown that the resulting injuries did cause some sort of damages to the plaintiff. This usually takes the form of medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.

Bowser Law serves clients in communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.