We are pleased to report that a Client facing a misdemeanor DUI charge in the Newport District Court has been acquitted after a drunk driving trial that was substantially delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. On October 1st, 2020, our Client was finally acquitted after almost a year of litigation and over six months from the commencement of the trial.
November 2nd, 2019: Client is Arrested on Misdemeanor DUI Charges
Our Client was leaving a local bar in Newport, RI on a Friday night headed back to his home in Massachusetts. As he was headed home, he inadvertently forgot to turn on his full headlights. As he was headed towards the Sakonnet River Bridge he passed a Police Officer in a fixed post. The Officer pulled out, caught up with our Client, and pulled him over before he reached the Bridge. As the Officer spoke with our Client, he detected an odor of alcohol coming from the Client's breath and the Client admitted to drinking earlier in the evening.
A secondary officer was summonsed to the scene to conduct standardized field sobriety tests. The Client consented to those tests and, in the opinion of the officer, the Client failed those tests indicating that he was under the influence to a degree that rendered him incapable of safely operating his vehicle. The Client was then arrested and taken back to the local Police Station.
At the Police Station, the Client was advised of his rights and agreed to take a chemical breath test to determine his blood alcohol concentration. At the conclusion of the testing, the Police obtained breath test results of 0.099% and 0.095% BAC. The Client was then formally charged with driving under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration between 0.08 and 0.10.
February 27th, 2020: DUI Case Proceeds to Trial in Newport District Court
After a number of pre-trial hearings and negotiations, the Client's DUI charge finally proceeded to trial in late February 2020. Unfortunately, we were not able to successfully negotiate a favorable pre-trial disposition. Because our Client lived in Massachusetts and held a MA drivers license, any resolution involving pleading guilty to a DUI charge would result in serious negative collateral actions by the MA RMV. Based on that understanding and an unfavorable plea offer, the DUI case proceeded to trial.
At trial, our cross examination of the arresting officer was able to do significant damage to the State's case against the Client. Substantial exculpatory evidence was revealed by the trial testimony and cross examination including the following:
- The Police did not observe any erratic driving, swerving, or any other indication that the Client was unable to drive his vehicle effectively;
- The Police conducted standardized field sobriety tests on a sloped bridge in cold temperatures with strong winds blowing;
- The Police explained, demonstrated, and conducted three standardized field sobriety tests in under five minutes;
- The Client submitted to the chemical breath test machine and a valid breath sample was obtained. However the test was aborted and restarted resulting in the deletion of the successfully obtained breath sample. The Client then submitted to a further breath sample 45 minutes later which constituted the breath test readings the State introduced at trial against the Client. But the State was unable to provide or introduce the earlier breath sample that was obtained and then destroyed.
After cross examination was concluded, both the State and the Defense rested and the case was continued to a new hearing date for the Judge to render a verdict.
March 17th, 2020: Rhode Island Shuts Down Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Prior to the Court being able to render a verdict on our Client's DUI trial, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the entire State of Rhode Island and closed the Newport County District Court. A decision on our Client's trial was placed indefinitely on-hold pending a re-opening of the Court and the Newport County Courthouse.
October 1st, 2020: DUI Charge Dismissed in Newport District Court
In early September 2020 the Newport County Courthouse opened on a partial basis. Our Client's matter was rescheduled for decision on the merits of the trial on October 1st, 2020. Due to limits on the number of individuals present in the Courthouse due to COVID-19, our Client's trial decision was handled via a Webex video. Eleven months after his arrest and seven months after the trial had commenced, our Client was acquitted in the Newport County District Court and the charges pending against him were dismissed. He is currently in the process of having the case expunged from his criminal record. The tickets he was given for driving without his lights on were dismissed based on a good driving record plea resulting in the payment of Court Costs but no increase in insurance or points on his license.
Top Rated Rhode Island DUI Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Rhode Island, don't delay. Give Attorney Matthew Marin at Marin and Barrett, Inc. a call today for a no obligation DUI case evaluation and start putting your defense together now. We are available 24/7 at 401-228-8271 or via email at [email protected].