Massachusetts drinking laws can penalize college students, even if they are over 21. Although college students charged with OUI and underage drinking may face serious consequences, an OUI arrest may have even harsher penalties. These penalties can have serious legal, educational or professional costs, regardless of whether the arrest was made on or off campus. But, there are ways to fight an OUI charge.
One common defense is that the police were not legally justified to stop the driver or did not follow proper legal procedures when making the arrest. If successful, this defense can make evidence inadmissible in court and lead to the dismissal of the prosecution.
Another strategy is to challenge the credibility of the arresting police officer or the evidence taken at the scene. This is very difficult and usually requires video footage or a sober witness who is more believable. Important evidence includes the driver appearing sober, did not drink before getting in the car or has a medical condition having symptoms that give the appearance of intoxication such as a diabetic episode or low blood sugar.
Drivers may also try to challenge the accuracy of a breathalyzer, especially if this device was not functioning properly. This is usually unsuccessful because breathalyzers are accepted as being effective at measuring blood alcohol content levels even if the devices are not totally accurate. There may also be ways to challenge the effectiveness of other chemical tests if these were performed incorrectly.
There may also be other ways to explain why a sober diver appeared intoxicated. Physical impairments, injuries or disabilities hampered performance on field sobriety tests. Fatigue, allergies or contacts caused bloodshot eyes. Lack of sleep or medications can cause blurred speech. Poor performance during a field sobriety test may be blamed on confusing instructions.
Seeking legal representation as soon as possible increases the odds of mounting an effective OUI defense. An attorney can challenge evidence and assure that any reasonable defenses are presented.