drunk driving

Anyone who has been arrested for operating under the influence already knows it is a serious offense. But what does the state have to prove to secure a conviction? There are specific key elements that prosecutors must prove. If they fail to establish a clear case, you might be able to walk away without a conviction. Let’s look at the elements of OUI in Massachusetts.

The OUI Elements

There are three components of any OUI offense. The prosecution must prove that: 

  • The defendant was driving a vehicle
  • The vehicle was on a public road 
  • The driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs

If the police see you driving a car and you are acting erratically, they can pull you over for a suspected OUI. In these cases, you are operating the vehicle. However, some individuals have been convicted while sleeping in their driver’s seat. Even if the car is not running, having the keys in the ignition or access to the gear shift is enough to prove you are “operating” the vehicle. 

The next element concerns a “public” road. This element includes any street or highway that is open to the public. Along with that, it must be controlled and maintained by the government. If you were operating a vehicle on that street, road, or highway, that is considered a public road. 

Finally, the last element of an OUI is the impaired operation of a vehicle. Without this evidence, there is no case. 

For a person to be charged with an OUI, the evidence must show that their ability to operate a vehicle safely was affected by alcohol or drugs. The law enforcement officer must have a reason to pull over the car. Often, this occurs because of erratic driving or other behavior on the road. This evidence will be the basis for the arrest and the state’s case. 

How To Prove the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol?

Like other states, Massachusetts uses a set blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to determine a person’s impairment. If a driver’s BAC exceeds the 0.08% limit, they can be charged with OUI. 

Law enforcement officers use field sobriety tests to evaluate a driver’s level of impairment. Whether walking in a straight line or standing on one leg, the test can measure a person’s coordination and balance.

Also, breathalyzer tests are used to measure a driver’s BAC. If you refuse to take a chemical test in Massachusetts, you could have your license suspended.  

The law enforcement officer’s observations can be evidence against a driver. If they witnessed swerving, speeding, or exhibiting signs of impairment during a traffic stop, these observations become a part of the prosecutor’s case. 

Legal Help for Your OUI Case

When you understand the elements of OUI in Massachusetts, you will know if the prosecutor has a strong case against you. Whether they do or not, you need legal help. An OUI attorney can help you take the next steps to protect your rights and freedom. 
For over 50 years, the Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard P.C. has helped thousands of clients resolve their OUI cases. We provide defense legal services to Springfield, Hyannis, Belchertown, and Cape Cod communities. Contact us by calling (413)-731-9995 or texting (413)-225-2072 to schedule a free initial consultation.