A Haverhill Massachusetts man, Anthony McLaughlin, has been charged with operating under the influence of alcohol for a third time. According to The Lawrence Eagle Tribune, McLaughlin was arrested at 4:40 Saturday morning as he slept behind the wheel of his car. The arresting police officer, Penny Portalla, claimed that the headlights and taillights to the car were on and the car was running. She also claimed that the interlock device that was inside of the center console was unplugged. Defense counsel argued that if the interlock device was unplugged the car could not have been running. Apparently, neighbors became concerned about the car. When Portalla arrived to check out the situation she claims that she had a hard time waking up the defendant.
The Essex County District Attorney’s office moved to have McLaughlin held without bail and be found as a danger. Following a “dangerousness hearing” Judge Stephen Abany declined to hold the defendant without bail and ordered that he be held unless and until he can post three-thousand dollars cash bail.
In order for the Commonwealth to prove its case it must prove that the defendant was driving a motor vehicle, on a public way while under the influence of alcohol. In this case, they have the additional burden of proving that the defendant was convicted two times previously.
Although all of the facts are not known at this time, it appears that the government may have a problem proving operation and public way. The Massachusetts model jury instruction relative to operation explain that “operation” is not only doing all of the well-known things that drivers do as they travel on a street or highway, butalso when doing any act which directly tends to set the vehicle in motion.The law is that a person is “operating” a motor vehicle whenever he or she
is in the vehicle and intentionally manipulates some mechanical or electrical part of the vehicle — like the gear shift or the ignition — which, alone or in sequence, will set the vehicle in motion. Thus, a person may be found to be operating a car even if he or she is not actually driving the car down the street or highway.
The Tribune indicated that the car was parked off the road, thus the defense may be able to claim that the motor vehicle was not on a public way. To prove that the defendant operated the car on a “public way.” In Massachusetts a public way is any street that is open to the public and is controlled and maintained by the government. This obviously would encompass a state highway and municipal roads. Indicia of a public way include testimony that the road was paved, has streetlights, street signs and fire hydrants. The presence of these items indicate that the roadway is likely maintained by a municipality. This may be one element that the defense can focus on to seucre a not guilty verdict.
In order to prove that a defendant has previously been convicted of operating under the influence the Commonwealth must have certified copies of the prior convictions in which the defendant is clearly identified and it can be shown that he or she was represented by counsel or waived an attorney. There is not time limit on how many years back the prosecution can go to prove the prior offenses.