According to an article in the MetroWest Daily News, a man was recently arrested following a car accident on Winthrop Street in Framingham. The article states that several people flagged a Framingham police officer down and told him there was a serious crash. The officer proceeded to the location of the crash and found a Toyota Celica on its roof on the lawn of 197 Winthrop Street. The article states that the car appeared to have “veered right and completely off the road into the driveway,” and that the car “appeared to be speeding.” The officer found three individuals outside the car – two women, ages seventeen and eighteen, and a man, later identified as the driver. The two women stated that they were passengers. One of the women stated that she was pregnant and asked to go to the hospital. The driver was also injured and had numerous lacerations on his arms, face, and knee. The car had apparently hit a street sign, and damaged the house as well. The responding officer reportedly noticed an odor of alcohol coming from the driver’s mouth, and observed his eyes to be bloodshot. The officer apparently questioned the driver, who initially denied having had anything to drink. At some later point, however, he admitted to having had two shots of vodka. The driver refused to perform any field sobriety tests, and refused to take a breathalyzer. He also apparently told the officer “I don’t care about myself. I am not going to the hospital. I just care about them,” in reference to the passengers. The man was ultimately charged for operating under the influence and driving to endanger. He was also civilly cited for speeding and a marked lanes violation.
For the Commonwealth to obtain a conviction against the driver for operating under the influence under G. L. c. 90, § 24, it would have to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) that the driver operated a motor vehicle; (2) that the driver did so on a public way; and (3) that while operating the vehicle, the driver was under the influence of intoxicating liquor. As to the third element, a person is under the influence of alcohol if he has consumed enough alcohol to reduce his ability to operate a motor vehicle safely by decreasing his alertness, judgment and ability to respond promptly. The Commonwealth is not required to prove that the driver was in fact drunk or that he actually drove in an unsafe or erratic manner, but it is required to prove that his ability to drive safely was diminished by alcohol.
For the Commonwealth to obtain a conviction for driving to endanger (under the same statute), it would have to prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) that the driver operated a motor vehicle; (2) that he did so on a public way; and (3) that he did so in a negligent manner so that the lives or safety of the public might have been endangered. As to the third element, a person acts negligently when he fails to use due care, that is, when he acts in a way that a reasonable person would not act. This can happen either by doing something that a reasonably prudent person would not do under those circumstances, or by failing to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do. A driver acted negligently if he drove in a way that a reasonable person would not have, and by doing so created an unnecessary danger to other people, a danger that he could have avoided by driving more carefully. Continue reading →