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Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to Consider Whether Drunken Driver Acquittal Rate is Too High

The state’s highest court is getting ready to take a formal look into whether Massachusetts drunk driving acquittal level at the district court level is too high. The announcement of the inquiry comes following a report by the Boston Globe that the judges had a 30% greater acquittal rate than juries in the state.

Former chief trial counsel for the Suffolk district attorney’s office Jack Cinquegrana, who also previously served as Jack Cinquegrana and Boston Bar Association president, has been tasked with figuring out the acquittal rate for jury-waived OUI cases and how that compares with the national average.

According to the Globe’s Spotlight Team, certain counties have acquittal rates that continue to rise. In Suffolk County, judges are acquitting OUI defendants in 88% of cases. The acquittal rate by judges is Plymouth County for 86%. Some district court judges say that one reason the conviction rate is low is that prosecutors are often reluctant to drop OUI cases that don’t have enough evidence.

Our Boston injury lawyers represent victims of Massachusetts drunk driving accidents that wish to obtain recovery from the negligent motorist. In certain instances where there was an establishment that served alcohol to the intoxicated driver before he/she got into the car and caused the car crash, you may be able to also pursue damages from that entity under Massachusetts’ dram shop liability laws.

On a positive note, federal officials say there has been drop in Massachusetts drunk driver fatalities between 2005 and 2009. The 27% decline is attributed to safer vehicles and tougher enforcement. The RMV is also reporting that the ignition interlock locks now required for chronic offenders have helped reduce the number of OUI accidents in the state. Only 115 of the 10,000 motorists ordered to install the devices in their vehicles were again convicted for drunk driving.

Drunken driving down in Massachusetts, Boston Herald, October 28, 2011
For drunk drivers, a habit of judicial leniency, Boston.com, October 30, 2011

Related Web Resources:

MassDOT, RMV
Massachusetts Law About Drunk Driving, Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries

More Blog Posts:

Is the State Doing Enough to Prevent Massachusetts Car Crashes and Discourage Drunk Driving?, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 12, 2011
More Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed in 2009 Wrong-Way Driving Crash on Taconic State Parkway that Killed Eight, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, July 31, 2011
Drunk Driver Kills Two Teens Not Wearing Seatbelts in Somerville, Boston Car Accident Lawyer, April 25, 2011