Welcome To The Drunk Driving Defense Blog

As a life long area resident and a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who has spent four or five days each week in area courts I can honestly say I know this community well. As a Criminal Lawyer and specialist in OUI I truly enjoy working relentlessly for you! This blog is a way to share some of what I have learned and to give you a chance to get to know me. If you have a legal issue feel free to call my office. If I cannot help you I will be glad to refer you to a suitable attorney. Relentlessly yours- Dan

Don't forget  (413) 549-3883 - Anytime.  Or Visit http://www.sclearylaw.com for  criminal law, Dui Oui Dwi Defense,

Amherst Lawyer: Dan Sandell on OUI

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

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If I get pulled over after I’ve been drinking, should I take the field sobriety tests? Not many people realize that evidence that you refused your field sobriety tests is not admissible in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. People are often told that if they “just get out of the car and do these tests, you can go home after you show me that your OK to drive”. It is not the police officer’s duty to inform yo of this and they rarely, if ever do. Although you may do well on these tests and be sent on your way, in many cases people don’t do so well on these tests, only adding harmfull evidence of your poor performance on these tests to the Commonwealth’s case against you. If you refuse the tests, you will likely be arrested, but you generally will have a stonger OUI case to defend without the evidence from the Field Sobriety tests. 


If I get arrested for an OUI, should I take the breathalyzer test? A link for the current penalties for failing a Breathalyzer test and for refusing them are provided in this link: http://www.mass.gov/rmv/suspend/oui.htm The decision to take or refuse the test is up to you but keep in mind that if you take the test and score a high result, it is very difficult and costly to defend this case once you enter into your lawyer’s office. Although you will have a longer suspension for a refusal there are three things that many people are not aware of. First is the fact that evidence of your refusal is not admissible during your trial, the evidence at trial would go along as if you were never offerred one. Second is the fact that if you successfullly defend your OUI in court, then your attorney can file a motion to restore your driving privileges that day and you can have your normal driver’s license in your hand within a few days. The third thing that most people aren’t aware of is that Massachusetts has a lifetime lookback period for OUI offenses [there is one exception for those people who get a second offense OUI after ten years from their first]. This means that if you had two OUI’s during your college days, go twenty years without an OUI and then get a third in your forties, you will be looking at a minimum mandatory jail sentence. OUI convictions are not something you want to have on your record.


I got a Summons in the mail, what should I do? First make sure that you know what Court you are supposed to appear in, what court event you are there for {ex. show cause, probation violation, or arraignment}, what time you need to be in court, and what courtroom or hearing room you need to appear in. If you are being summonsed in as a defendant than it should show what the nature of the charges are against you. If you are unclear about any of this information than call the clerk’s office at the court to which you are summonsed and ask them for some clarification. If you are being accused of doing any sort of criminal wrongdoing than it is also safer to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.


I can’t make it to court on the day I’ m supposed to, what should I do? If you are unable to get to court on time than a warrant will likely issue for you unless you are able to get a continuance for your matter. This means that you will be subject to arrest and will be transported to the court where the warrant issued once they find you unless you turn yourself into the courthouse first. The only hopes of avoiding a warrant issuing is to contact the clerk’s office in the court for which you are to appear, explain who you are, what you are scheduled for, and why you are unable to come to court that morning. In some cases where people are involved in car accidents, have deaths in the family and other genuine grounds, the court may grant you a continuance and another day to return to court.


The police want to interview me, what should I do ? If you have any idea that you may be suspected of wrondoing than you should tell the police before you go to the station or give a statement that you want to speak with a lawyer before you make this decision. Hiring a lawyer BEFORE you speak to the police will allow your attorney to learn about the nature of the investigation as well as what evidence, if any, they have against you. By having a skilled attorney look into this, you can then make an informed decision as to whether or not you are going to speak to the police. Often times the police have a theory as to what you did and how you did it,and if you go to the station without an attorney, the police may ask you seemingly innocent questions, but in reality are verifying their theory {ex. you were here this night, you were with this person} and strenthening their case against you. It is always safer to speak with an attorney prior to police questioning.


The police want to search my car or my home, what should I do? Tell the officer that “If you are going to search, I am not going to consent to it.” If the police then choose to search your car or your home then you have preserved all of your constitutional rights for your lawyer to examine when you walk into his office. If the police exceeded the scope of what is permissible then your lawyer can attack the search, and possibly suppress all of the evidence that they have seized. However if you consent to the search and say something like “yeah go ahead and take a look” than you have just waived all of your rights as it pertains to the search of your vehicle/home. Although you may know what you have on your person and in your car, you can’t always be 100% sure you know what your passengers have on there person, that they may throw it on the floor and pretend to know nothing about it when the police search the car.


When should I call a lawyer? Call a lawyer as soon as you suspect that the police or another individual may suspect you of wrongdoing. The quicker you get a skilled attorney on your side, the more likely that you may be able to avoid having your matter go into a criminal court. Too many people wait way too long to call a lawyer, and by the time that they do, it is often too late to avoid going into court.


What is a show-cause hearing? A show cause hearing is a hearing involving a Plaintiff and a Defendant where the Plaintiff must show that their is enough evidence to show that there is probable cause to believe that there was a crime committed. Often times, an officer from a police department where the alliged crime occurred is the Plaintiff. Private citizens can also seek criminal complaints against other individuals for criminal wrongdoing. Generally, if the Plaintiff is successfull than a criminal complaint will issue, requiring the defendant to have to appear for an arraignment in a Courtroom in front of a Judge. If the defendant is successfull then no complaint will issue and the matter will be dismissed. Attorney Sandell has successfully represented both plaintiff’s and defendant’s in show cause hearings throughout the courtooms in western Massachusetts. Having a skilled attorney by your side can help ensure that your goal is acheived at your show cause hearing.


What is a CWOF? A continuance without a finding is a type of criminal disposition where the defendant is placed on probation and admits to sufficient facts to the elements of a criminal offense, but the case is continued without a guilty conviction for a period of time. If the defendant successfully completes probation than the matter will ultimately be dismissed, leaving the defendant without a criminal conviction on their record. However, if a defendant violates the terms and conditions of probation than that defendant puts themself at risk of having a guilty conviction enter and possibly having to be incarcerated. Having a skilled attorney argue on your behalf can help ensure that you receive a favorable disposition that will preserve your criminal record and fashion conditions of probation that are not overly burdensome.


What is Pre-Trial Probation? Authorized by Chapter 276, Section 187 of the Massachusetts General Laws, Pre-Trial probation is an extremely favorable disposition that allows for a delayed dismissal of criminal charges and is continued on a defendant’s not guilty plea. In essence this is a contractual type of disposition where if the defendant does A,B, and C during a period of time, and in return the Commonwealth agrees to dismiss your matter. In the event that the contract is broken, you have not waived any signifficant rights including your right to trial, your presumption of innocence, and your right against self incrimination. In order to get a pre-trial probation disposition, the Commonwealth must be willing to offer you pre-trial probation as the court is not allowed to dispose of a case this way without the Commonwealth’s consent. Having an attorney by your side can help explain your side of the story, present yourself in a favorable light, as well as persuading the assigned assistant district attorney as to why you are someone that should be given this favorable type of disposition. Attorney Sandell has helped numerous clients receive this type of disposition.


What is Pre-Trial Diversion? Pre-Trial Diversion is a favorable disposition that is very similar to Pre-Trial probation in many respects. Like Pre-Trial probation, it is a disposition that is continued on your not-guilty plea and is a contractual type of disposition. Generally, Pre-Trial diversion is offered to younger individuals who have no prior criminal record. It generally is continued on your not guilty plea for 3-6 months where you abide to obide by all state, local, and federal laws and completing an educational program that is designed to educate young men and women on how not to make poor choices and end back inside the criminal justice system. In the event that a defendant breaches the conditions of Pre-Trial Probation, the case will be re-activated and you will have to proceed through the criminal justice system. Having an attorney by your side can help persuade an assistant district attorney as to why you should be someone who is granted this favorable disposition. Attorney Sandell has helped numerous college aged individuals enter into diversion programs, and preserve their criminal records.


I got a letter from the Dean of Students Office, what should I do? As a college student attending UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Hampshire College, or any University or College in the Western Mass area, getting a letter for the Dean of Students stating that you may be subject to disciplinary action can be an extremely frightening experience. No one wants to begin their collegiate career with a bad weekend and threats of expulsion from the Dean of Students Office. Sanctions for violating the code of student conduct at many colleges and universities can vary widely depending on the alleged violation. Academic Probation, completing an alcohol awareness program, and letters of apology can often be sanctions for first offense, minor violations of the code of conduct. However, for more serious violations, students may face being forced to take semesters off from school, and in worst case situations being expelled from the college or university. Consulting with an attorney prior to going into the Dean of Students can provide you crucial information that can give you some guidance as to how to avoid facing the more serious types of sanctions that can be imposed. When a student is facing serious allegations of violating the student code of conduct, it may be a good idea to have an attorney by your side to explain your side of the story as well as to argue for alternative sanctions that will not involve any suspensions or expulsions from your college. Attorney Sandell has been involved with numerous hearings involving the UMass Dean of Students office and has helped avoid the imposition of serious consequences for many students.

A link to the University of Massachusetts code of student conduct is provided below for your convenience.



Disclaimer: The material on this website is provided for informational purposes only and may be considered advertising pursuant to the rules of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The material contained on this website is not intended and should not be intended as legal advice for your individualized matter. This information does not constitute legal advice and does not create or imply an attorney-client relationship. Any readers of this information should not act or rely on any information provided herein without consulting legal counsel. It is cruicial to contact an attorney prior to making any important decisions regarding your legal rights. Feel Free to contact Dan Sandell at 413-549-3883 to schedule a free consultation.

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