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DWI and DUI Charges in Springfield, Massachusetts

Posted on : April 4, 2024

Being charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substances in Springfield, MA, can be a distressing experience. Often, the terms Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are used interchangeably, but it’s crucial to understand the evidence required for proving either charge.

Proving a DWI Charge

A DWI charge generally indicates that a driver was operating a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) above the legal limit, typically 0.08%. Law enforcement officers can prove this charge primarily by demonstrating that the driver’s BAC level exceeded this threshold at the time of the arrest.

Evidence proving a DWI charge often includes results of breathalyzer tests or blood tests. Police may also provide additional observational evidence such as the driver’s speech, alertness, coordination, driving pattern, and overall behavior. Physical field sobriety tests like the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus, can further cement the charge.

In Springfield, like the rest of Massachusetts, a DWI charge can lead to significant penalties, including fines, license suspension, and even prison time, especially for repeat offenders.

Proving a DUI Charge

The requirements to prove a DUI charge can vary a bit compared to a DWI. While a DUI can certainly involve alcohol, it primarily applies to drivers under the influence of other substances, including illegal drugs, prescription medications, or over-the-counter drugs. The critical aspect is whether these substances impaired the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely.

Proving a DUI charge requires evidence that the driver was substantially impaired at the time of the arrest. This typically involves the results of a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) examination, a 12-step process carried out by a law enforcement officer trained to identify drug impairment in drivers.

This examination can include observing the driver’s behavior, performing field sobriety tests, taking the driver’s pulse, checking their pupil size in different light conditions, and seeking signs of drug use. Additionally, officers can use testimonies, video footage, and other observational data to prove impairment.

Importantly, a conviction does not require the driver’s BAC to be above the legal limit. It primarily hinges on the signs of impairment and the effects of any substances found in the driver’s system.

In conclusion, while both DWI and DUI charges deal with impaired or intoxicated driving, proving each involves different evidence. DWI charges focus on proving alcohol intoxication above legal BAC levels, whereas DUI charges are about demonstrating significant impairment due to the influence of drugs or other substances. With defense attorney Thomas Kokonowski, ensure your rights are protected and your defense is personalized for the best outcome.

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