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Worcester Criminal Defense Law Blog

No reliable test for marijuana intoxication

When Massachusetts police officers suspect that a driver is intoxicated by alcohol, they often ask the motorist to perform a standard field sobriety test. If the driver has trouble walking in a straight line or reciting the alphabet, the police officer may have a reasonable suspicion that the driver is drunk. A breath test or a blood test can also be used to measure the driver's blood-alcohol content.

Because there is no good test for marijuana intoxication, police officers have a lot more difficulty proving that drivers are stoned. A Massachusetts public defender has asked the state's Supreme Judicial Court to disallow the use of field sobriety tests as evidence for marijuana intoxication. According to the attorney, there is no proof that flunking a field sobriety test indicates marijuana intoxication.

Obama commutes sentences of 330 inmates

Massachusetts residents may have heard that, in one of his final acts as president, Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 330 federal prisoners who had been convicted of drug crimes. The commutations were handed down on Jan. 19.

Over the course of his presidency, Obama granted commutations to 1,715 federal inmates, which is the most of any president in U.S. history. Of those inmates, 568 had been sentenced to life in prison. According to Obama's White House counsel, the former president made it a second-term goal to correct what he saw as systemic injustice that led to onerous sentences for thousands of drug offenders. Congress never acted to address the problem.

Does OUI mean an end to your college career?

Have you ever heard people answer, "partying" when asked what their major is in college? While you likely didn't come all the way to Massachusetts to hit the night clubs for four years, there might be a little truth to the statement in that many college students like yourself enjoy kicking back and relaxing with their schoolmates. Unfortunately, sometimes this leads to a little too much kicking back or, more specifically, tossing back alcohol, which can open up several different cans of trouble.

Massachusetts marijuana laws go into effect

Massachusetts residents are likely aware that a ballot initiative legalizing personal use of marijuana passed in November 2016. As a result, adults who are at least 21 years of age or older are legally allowed to use, possess or purchase a specific amount of marijuana.

The marijuana laws, which are now being tinkered with by lawmakers, state that purchasing or possessing up to 1 ounce or less of the drug is legal. Users can also be legally in possession of up to 10 ounces of marijuana in their primary residence. Users can also grow up to 12 plants per household, (6 plants per person with a 12 plant household maximum). The sale of marijuana accessories, including growing lamps, pipes and bongs, will also be legal. The ballot measure defined marijuana accessories as any device or piece of equipment that was intended to be used for growing, manufacturing or using personal amounts of marijuana.

Man charged with DUI after crashing into utility pole

A Massachusetts man was facing a DUI charge after he was involved in a car accident on Jan. 1. According to the police report, the 29-year-old man crashed into a utility pole on Jocyln Avenue at 1:55 a.m. in Framingham.

When authorities talked to him, he claimed that he was the one driving and that he had drunk alcohol prior to the crash. He reportedly blew a .17 on a portable breath test, though he refused to take a Breathalyzer test. As such, his license was automatically suspended.

Fewer drunk drivers in Massachusetts

While the rate of driving under the influence of illegal drugs remains mostly unchanged, the number of people driving while intoxicated in the United States fell to its lowest rate in 13 years in 2014, according to one matrix. Per data from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 11.1 percent of respondents who were 16 or older reported that they had driven while under the influence of alcohol.

Although the survey is not believed to be precise since people are self-reporting and participants may have differing ideas about what the threshold is for driving while intoxicated, the survey has been run since 2002. Therefore, there is a benchmark that can be used to compare numbers. According to the 2002 survey, 15.3 percent of those surveyed stated that they had driven while drunk.

Should you challenge the results of a breath test?

An arrest for drunk driving is a serious problem, and, if convicted, you could be facing penalties that will have an impact on multiple areas of your life. Massachusetts has some of the most severe OUI penalties in the country, and it is important to protect your interests when charged with this crime, even if it is your first offense.

Some legal substances may lead to arrest in Massachusetts

Illegal drugs are typically classified in one of three ways: natural, derivative or synthetic. Marijuana is considered a natural drug since it is a plant, and drugs that are synthesized from a plant are derivatives, cocaine being one example. Synthetic drugs are those that are created by mixing synthetic chemical compounds.

Synthetic drug makers have frequently tried to do an end-run around the law by changing the compounds that they use to create drugs. Doing so creates a new chemical compound, but they are often able to emulate the results obtained from similar types of synthetic drugs that are already considered illegal.

State police find 1,000 bags of heroin during traffic stop

According to officers with the Massachusetts State Police, a traffic stop in Bernardston resulted in the seizure of 1,000 bags of heroin inside of a pickup truck. The incident reportedly happened on Dec. 23 at 2:45 a.m. Three people inside of the truck were taken into custody.

Law enforcement officials reported that a 23-year-old Vermont man was pulled over by police on Route 10. Officers reportedly decided to investigate the individuals inside of the truck further and allegedly found the heroin as well as around 60 grams of cocaine. In addition to the 23-year-old man, a 29-year-old Vermont woman and a 24-year-old Connecticut man were also taken into custody.

Fentanyl linked to 3 out of 4 fatal overdoses

Some people in Massachusetts are prescribed a medication called fentanyl in the hospital. After becoming addicted to the powerful painkiller, people may seek out fentanyl from illicit sources. Fentanyl is believed to be 50 times stronger than heroin, so drug dealers will sometimes mix fentanyl into a batch of heroin to make it stronger.

A study by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that 75 percent of overdose deaths in the state involved fentanyl. Law enforcement agencies believe that the synthetic opioid is produced in Chinese labs and then mixed with heroin in Mexico before it reaches the United States. They also believe that much of the drug trafficking activities involving fentanyl occur over the internet and through the mail system.

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