Misdemeanor & Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide
Boston Vehicular Homicide Lawyer serving Massachusetts and the Greater Boston area including South Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy, New Bedford, Taunton, Attleboro, Lowell, Woburn, Medford, Waltham, Wareham, Lynn, Lawrence, Wrentham, Dedham, Salem, Fall River, Brookline, Chelsea, Worcester, Framingham, Everett, Revere, Dorchester and Roxbury and all smaller cities and rural areas in Massachusetts.
In order to conviction someone of Operating Under the Influence Causing Death the prosecution must prove the following elements:
- That the defendant operated a motor vehicle; and
- that they did so on a public way; with
- with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater or under the influence of drugs, and
- negligently or recklessly operated his or her vehicle so that the lives and safety of the public were endangered and,
- that such operation caused the death of another.
Misdemeanor Motor Vehicle Homicide vs Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide
The major difference between misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide and felony motor vehicle homicide is that in felony motor vehicle homicide the Commonwealth has to prove that the defendant both operated under the influence and operated negligently or recklessly as opposed to misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide where it is enough show that the defendant was either under the influence or operated negligently or recklessly.
A misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide under chapter 90 section 24 (G) is punishable by a sentence to jail or a house of correction for not less than thirty days nor more than two and one-half years, or by a fine of not less than three hundred nor more than three thousand dollars, or both. Felony motor vehicle homicide under chapter 90 section 24 (G)(b) (also known as Manslaughter while operating under the influence) is punishable by a minimum sentence of at least 2.5 years in state prison and a maximum of 15 years in state prison. Under no circumstances can the sentence be reduced to less than 1 year.
Motor Vehicle Homicide Trial
The jury will be instructed that the evidence does not need to show the defendant was drunk or even drove in an unsafe manner in order to be considered under the influence of alcohol or drugs. All the prosecution needs to show is that the defendant simply consumed enough alcohol or drugs to diminish his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. The jury will be instructed that it is not necessary that the evidence show that the defendant was drunk or even drove in an unsafe manner.
The Prosecution will use any of the following to prove the defendant was intoxicated.
1. Odor of Alcohol: Police officers will almost always testify that they observed a strong odor of alcohol on the defendant’s breath after they pulling him over. It is important to understand that it is not illegal to drive a vehicle after having a drink. Your defense attorney show know that pure alcohol is odorless and that it is the additives that are added to alcoholic drinks that create the smell of alcohol. Usually
2. Glassy and Bloodshot Eyes: Police officers will almost always testify that they observed the defendant with glassy and bloodshot eyes. There are several reasons for glassy and bloodshot eyes though: allergies, lack of sleep, prescription eye-wear problems, sitting in front of a computer screen for hours
3. Slurred Speech: Police officers will almost always testify that they observed the defendant speaking with slurred or thick tongued speech. However, a foreign accent, speech impediment could be to blame. The fact that the officer never spoke with the defendant prior to the arrest is also beneficial to the defendant.
4. Field Sobriety Tests: A police officer will usually have the suspect perform three of the following tests. Most officers usually choose the first three:
- nine-step heel-to-toe walk and turn,
- One Leg Stand,
- horizontal gaze nystagmus (eye test),
- reciting the alphabet, or
- touching a finger to the nose.
5. Breathalyzer Test: Click on the link to read more about the breath test