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Extraterritorial Stop/Arrest Result in Reversal of Drunk Driving Conviction

In its June 22, 2010 decision, the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed the guilty verdict imposed by a Superior Court Jury which found the defendant "guilty of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and operating a motor vehicle after revocation of his license. The same Jury found the Defendant guilty of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, fourth or subsequent offense." The Massachusetts Appeals Court granted the Defendant's motion to suppress evidence, which included the field sobriety and breath test results, on the grounds that the Officer had conducted an unlawful extraterritorial stop and arrest of the Defendant while he was off duty and outside his jurisdiction. After his vehicle was struck by the Defendant, the Officer did the following: "(1) direct[ed] the defendant to step out of the vehicle; (2) direct[ed] the defendant to get back in his vehicle and to wait for the police; and (3) remov[ed] the keys from the ignition of the defendant's vehicle." The Massachusetts Appeals Court held that the Officer's actions constituted a seizure under the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. In its analysis the Massachusetts Appeals Court held that "a police officer's power to make a warrantless arrest is generally limited to the boundaries of the jurisdiction in which the Officer is employed, Commonwealth v. LeBlanc, 407 Mass. 70, 72 (1990), and, absent fresh pursuit for an arrestable offense, a police officer is generally without authority to make an arrest outside his jurisdiction. Commonwealth v. Savage, 430 Mass. at 343."

In every drunk driving case it is important to consider the issues of the lawfulness of the stop and arrest of the motorist by the police. If you or a family member has been charged with drunk driving (DUI, DWI, OUI) or refusal to submit to a chemical test in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, please give us a call for help.
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