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Mass. high court rules field sobriety tests inadmissible for pot

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has just ruled that some police testimony about field sobriety tests is inadmissible in cases involving suspected marijuana impairment. This is because there is no scientific certainty that the field sobriety tests used on drunk drivers yield useful information when used on drivers suspected of marijuana impairment.

The high court was careful to say that there is significant research, if not agreement among researchers, that using marijuana does cause driving impairment. However, the unanimous court ruled that there is insufficient evidence that field sobriety tests accurately measure marijuana impairment.

Police commandeer kayaks for aquatic pursuit of alleged boat thief

Leicester police were ready when a concerned citizen called about a man apparently breaking into a Green Street home. They had checked on the house earlier that day after a Worcester police request, so they sent multiple units around.

That doesn't mean they were entirely prepared for what happened next, according to MassLive.com. The concerned citizen had said there was a man climbing a ladder into a second-story window, and that the man had apparently cut a screen and crawled into a window. When police arrived, a man allegedly ran out the back door wearing a backpack.

Breathalyzer tests: Are they optional?

You are driving down the road minding your own business, and then it happens -- you see the lights flashing in your rearview mirror and a police officer asks you to pull over to the side of the street. Of course, you comply. After talking to you, the officer pulls out a Breathalyzer machine and asks for a sample? What do you do?

Anytime a police officer in Massachusetts suspects a person is driving under the influence of alcohol, he or she will ask for a breath sample and likely request that the suspect also perform field sobriety tests as well. It is standard procedure. However, just because that is so, does it mean that you must comply?

'Fare is Fair': MBTA begins random commuter rail ticket checks

Riders on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail lines may be in for some hassles in the days ahead as random daily ticket checks continue. The random checks, which began yesterday, are meant to cut back on the millions of dollars the MBTA loses each year due to evasion of fares. They're calling the initiative "Fare is Fair."

In the past, random ticket checks took place about six to eight times per year on commuter rail lines. In the future, the agency and its commuter rail partner Keolis plan to install ticket-checking gates at each major stop. For now, the MBTA and Keolis are deploying "ticket verification agents" on a daily basis, beginning at the busiest stations. Their job, as you might guess, is to ensure that each rider has an activated ticket before they board the train.

Gov. Baker wants higher penalties for drug deals ending in death

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has proposed a new penalty for drug dealers when the substances they sell end in the user's death. Currently, there is no state statute specifically touching on the issue. The proposed new law would require a mandatory-minimum sentence of five years and a possible penalty of life imprisonment for drug distribution causing death.

"When illegal drug distribution causes a death, laws that were designed to punish the act are inadequate to recognize the seriousness of the resulting harm," Baker wrote to the state legislature, according to MassLive. He says the bill is backed by the Massachusetts Major City Police Chiefs Association, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.

State police plan major crackdown on marijuana-impaired driving

The Massachusetts State Police have announced plans for a crackdown on marijuana-impaired driving, even as the state continues to work on implementing legalization. Since there is no reliable test for measuring marijuana intoxication, however, the agency will be relying on officers who have received special training in how to recognize stoned drivers.

Massachusetts was one of four states that legalized recreational marijuana in November. On Dec. 15, 2016, it became legal for adults 21 and over to grow and possess small amounts of the drug.

Study: Blacks and Hispanics are indeed more likely to be searched

African-Americans and Hispanics have long suspected they are more likely than whites to be searched and ticketed when they're pulled over. An extensive study by Stanford University researchers has found strong evidence that this is the case.

For several years, Stanford University's Open Policing Project has been collecting reports on the approximately 50,000 traffic stops that occur in the U.S. each day. So far, they've collected over 136 million records.

What will it take to get my license back after an OUI?

Drunk driving comes with a host of serious penalties, some of which can have an impact that reaches into various areas of your life. From your financial well-being to your right to drive, there is much at stake. One of the most frustrating of these is your loss of driving privileges, a consequence that can affect both your career and your personal life.

You must have a valid driver's license in order to transport yourself to school, work or even go to the grocery store. Public transportation may not meet your individual needs, and the loss of your license after an OUI is much more than an inconvenience. You would be wise to know how to get your license back and what you must do at the end of your suspension period.

New DOJ forensic evidence group to set standards for testimony

The evidence continues to mount that commonly accepted forensic science techniques are much less reliable than juries and the public had long been led to believe. In 2015, the FBI revealed that its own analysts had overstated the scientific certainty of microscopic hair analysis tests in at least 90 percent of cases reviewed.

Ballistics, bite-mark comparison, handwriting analysis and several other common techniques have also been challenged as scientifically flawed, according to the Associated Press.

Lawmaker demands release of Justice Dept. enforcement priorities

In light of a number of recent policy announcements by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a leading Senate Democrat is demanding details on the Justice Department's law enforcement priorities. Specifically, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is seeking the immediate release of recommendations of the presidential Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, which Sessions leads.

As we discussed recently, Sessions recently indicated that federal law enforcement may soon be cracking down on marijuana offenses, even in states where medical or recreational marijuana is legal. He also urged U.S. Attorneys to increase the use of civil forfeitures, including "adoptive forfeitures" in which the federal government confiscates property originally seized by state or local officials.

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Worcester Criminal Defense Law Blog | Anthony M. Salerno, P.C.