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If you are you are charged with operating a motor vehicle in violation of chapter 90, section 24, of our General Laws. You may have violated the statute in two different ways:
- Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
- Operating a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or greater.
In order to prove a defendant guilty of this offense, the Commonwealth must prove that a defendant violated the statute in at least one of those two ways.
Specifically, the Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That a defendant operated a motor vehicle.
- That a defendant did so on a public way.
- That while operating the vehicle, the operator was under the influence.
What does it mean to be “under the influence” of alcohol?
Someone does not have to be drunk to be under the influence of alcohol. A person is under the influence of alcohol if they have consumed enough alcohol to reduce their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, by decreasing his their alertness, judgment and ability to respond promptly. It means that a person has consumed enough alcohol to reduce their mental clarity, self-control and reflexes, and thereby left themselves with a reduced ability to drive safely.
The Commonwealth is not required to show that a defendant actually drove in an unsafe or erratic manner, but it is required to prove that their ability to drive safely was diminished by alcohol. The amount of alcohol necessary to do this may vary from person to person. A jury can consider any believable evidence about a defendant’s alleged consumption of alcohol, as well as a defendant’s appearance, condition and behavior at the time.
Instead of proving that a defendant was “under the influence” of alcohol, the Commonwealth may seek to prove that a defendant is guilty of this offense by showing beyond a reasonable doubt that at the time of operation, a defendant had a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or greater by weight. The use of a defendant’s breath or blood test will differ depending upon whether the jury is considering evidence that they operated a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or greater, or operated while under the influence of alcohol. In deciding whether the Commonwealth has proved that a defendant had a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or greater, at the time of operating the vehicle, a jury may consider evidence of a breath or blood test of .08 or greater.
In deciding whether the Commonwealth has proved that a defendant was under the influence of alcohol at the time of operating the vehicle, a jury may consider whether a breath or blood test showed that a defendant had consumed any alcohol. However, evidence of a positive breath or blood test is not sufficient by itself to prove that a defendant was under the influence of alcohol.
Contact Brad Bailey Law Today
If you have been charged with operating under the influence or would like to discuss a legal matter involving operating under the influence please let our Boston defense attorney know as soon as possible. It’s extremely important to have defense counsel by your side as early as possible in this process.
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