A Concord District Court jury today found Attorney Chris Spring’s client not guilty of operating under the influence of alcohol, despite our client colliding with a parked car and flipping her vehicle.
At around 10:00 on a March evening in 2019, Concord police officers responded to Commonwealth Avenue to investigate the report of a car accident. They found our client’s vehicle, which had slammed into a parked car and flipped over at least once. The car had extensive damage to its exterior and all of the air bags had deployed. Neither our client nor her 15-year-old daughter, who was sitting the back seat, appeared to be injured. When the cops spoke to our client, they observed her to be unbalanced on her feet, to have glassy, bloodshot eyes, and to have slurred speech. The cops also smelled an odor of an alcoholic beverage on our client’s breath and found a half-empty bottle of wine in her car.
An ambulance arrived and transported the 15-year-old daughter to the hospital. Our client was left behind and the cops asked her to perform a series of field sobriety tests. The tests were administrated in the dark (the only light source was from the spotlight of the police cruiser); the temperature was 10 degrees and our client was not dressed in winter clothes; and there were snowbanks lining the sides of the road from a recent storm. While our client did not fall down or stumble during the tests, she was unable to complete them as instructed. She was placed under arrest, charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and negligent operation, and transported to a local hospital. The hospital staff did not take x-rays and discharged her to the police station. During the booking process, our client was able to communicate effectively with the officers and answer their questions. There was surveillance video of the booking area, and our client could be seen wincing in pain whenever she moved. She refused to take the Breathalyzer. Our client was arraigned in court the following day and released. Nine days later, she was still experiencing considerable pain and sought treatment at Norwood Hospital. X-rays revealed that our client had broken at least five ribs in the accident.
At trial, Attorney Spring cross-examined the responding officers and forced them to describe the difficult environment in which they administered the field sobriety tests. The officers also acknowledged our client’s bloodshot, glassy eyes could have resulted from being struck in the face by the airbag. Further, when the airbag struck our client, it could have caused a concussion that would have explained the slurred speech and our client’s unsteadiness on her feet. Finally, Attorney Spring argued to the jury that it would have been impossible for anyone to perform balancing tests while suffering from five broken ribs. The jury deliberated for about an hour before returning a verdict of not guilty of operating under the influence of alcohol (the negligent operation charge had been dismissed during the middle of the trial by the judge).
Most OUI cases are defensible, even if the facts appear at first blush to be overwhelming. If you are charged with operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, call Attorney Chris Spring for a free consultation.