Law Office of Isaac J. Mass -- Greenfield, Massachusuetts
When you sell alcohol to someone who is intoxicated, personal injury or death due to drunken driving on the highways is foreseeable.

“A violation of a criminal statute is some evidence of the defendant’s negligence as to all consequences the statute was intended to prevent.” Adamian v. Three Sons, Inc., 353 Mass. 498, 499 (1968).

When you sell alcohol to a minor you may also reasonably infer that that minor is going to drink the alcohol.  It is also foreeable that those minors will share alcohol with other minors who might then drive.   

“While evidence of a sale of alcohol to a minor in violation of a statute does not, standing alone, establish a prima facie case of negligence, evidence of such a sale can be used to support a finding of negligence.” Zinck v. Gateway Country Store, Inc., 72 Mass. App. Ct. 571, 577 (2008) (citation omitted).

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, sometimes there is not adequate insurance to cover your damages.  You may have other sources to recover from other than the driver and their insurance company.   The source of the alcohol may have acted negligently when providing it.  For a free consultation, contact the Law Office of Isaac J. Mass.

Hardship Licenses, sometimes called a Cinderella License are issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles to some offenders for a legitimate purpose such as going to work, attending school, or receiving medical treatment. Hardship Licenses are valid for a consecutive 12 hour period (e.g.  8:00 AM to 8:00 PM). Such licenses are only granted to Massachusetts license holders.  In order to apply for a hardship license, you must attend a hearing at a Registry of Motor Vehicles hearings site

A hardship will only be considered for the following offenses certain offenses. You will need all required documents with you when you meet with the Hearing Officer.  Obtaining a hardship license is sometimes difficult, especially without a
skilled lawyer. Although an applicant may meet all requirements, issuance of a hardship license is only granted at the reasonable discretion of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, based on the facts of the case.

An attorney can help present your case in the light most favorable to you emphasizing the issues that are most important to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.  For example in accordance with Melanie's Law, the Registry of Motor Vehicles is changing its policy regarding who is eligible for a hardship license. To be eligible for a hardship license, you may now be required to present proof that you do not have access by public transportation to your required destination.  You should be represented by an attorney when seeking a hardship license.  

For an opportunity to consult a an attorney about representation at a Registry of Motor Vehicle hearing contact the Law Office of Isaac J. Mass.  The Law Office of Isaac J. Mass can also represent you in hearings before the Board of Appeals after an unsuccessful hearing at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. 

December  18th, 2012 , in Commonwealth v. Jones,  
the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that it was ok to deny a defendant’s right to admit into evidence that, shortly after he had declined to take a breathalyzer test, he changed his mind and requested but was not given the test.

On May  14, 2010, a witness was driving north on Route 10 in Southampton when she reported a pickup truck being driven erratically. The defendant was the driver of the truck and was stopped by the Easthampton police.  The police administered a field sobriety test, and the defendant performed poorly.  He was then placed under arrest.

The defendant, prior to trial, moved that he be permitted to testify that, at the police station, he initially declined to take a breathalyzer test, then "shortly afterwards" changed his mind and asked to take the test, but one was not administered.  Although the prosecutor did not  object, he wanted to introduce evidence that the defendant did not recant his initial refusal, and that he had also refused certain field sobriety tests and suggested the proposed testimony would “open a can of worms”. The judge denied the defendant's motion. 
The Supreme Court found, the judge acted within the scope of his discretion in excluding the testimony. The defendant sought to testify that, shortly after declining to take a breathalyzer test, he requested to do so.  Such evidence could only exonerate the defendant by suggesting that he thought he was not intoxicated at the time the request was made. But the court has held that "consciousness of innocence is of very little value, because there are a variety of different motives that can prompt action consistent with innocence." Commonwealth v. Espada, 450 Mass. 687, 698 (2008). 
The court  believes a recantation of an initial refusal to take a breathalyzer test is likely motivated by the desire to avoid suspension of the suspect's driver's license as it is with consciousness of innocence.

IF you have been arrested for operatining under the infulence or neglegent operation, contact the law office of Isaac J. Mass for a consultation.

_Today in the case of Juliano v. Simpson, SJC-10843, 2012, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court refused to expand social host liability to underage bring-your-own-beer parties.

On July 2, 2007, nineteen-year-old Jessica invited several friends, including nineteen-year-old Christian, to a party at her Wrentham home while her father was away. Christian attended with his sixteen-year-old girlfriend Rachel. On their way to the party, Christian obtained a "thirty-pack" of beer and a bottle of rum at a package store. They arrived at Jessica’s home between 6 P.M. and 8 P.M., and Christian brought the booze into the house.

Over the course of the evening, Christian drank one or two mixed drinks and six or seven of the cans of the beer that he had brought to the party. Jessica drank beer as well, from a supply that she had obtained earlier. Although there were some alcoholic beverages belonging to Jessica’s father in the house, Jessica neither consumed those beverages nor offered them to her guests. Jessica stayed in the company of her guests throughout the evening. At one point, an uninvited attendee began to engage in antagonistic behavior toward her, pouring beer onto the floor inside the house; Jessica ordered him to leave, and he did.

Sometime before 11 P.M., Christian and Rachel began to argue outside the house. They were loud enough to draw the attention of Jessica and several other guests. Rachel pushed Christian, and a friend of his intervened, removing him to another part of the property while Jessica spoke alone with Rachel. Soon afterward, Rachel and Christian prepared to leave the party. Concerned that Christian was still upset from the argument and that Rachel had drank too much alcohol to drive, Jessica suggested that she drive the two home. Rachel agreed not to drive herself, but Christian insisted that he take Rachel home. At approximately 11 P.M., the couple left the Jessica’s House with Christian driving. Shortly thereafter, the automobile struck a utility pole, causing injuries to both teenagers.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that neither Jessica nor her Father were liable for the injuries to the two teenagers.  In doing so they noted Ulwick v. DeChristopher, 411 Mass. 401, 408 (1991), where the court “expressed doubt that a social host can effectively prevent a guest from drinking the guest's own supply of alcohol, in contrast to the host who furnishes liquor to guests.”  The court believes that those who furnish alcohol are, like a bartender, better situated to "shut off" guests who should not be drinking because of age or intoxication, and are expected to do so.  The court found "a number of practical difficulties" in requiring a social hosts "to police the conduct of guests who drink their own liquor."   The court noted that social hosts might be forced to kick out drunk guests making it more likely that they would drink and drive.   

The court made no comment on the liability of the package store which provided the alcohol to Christian and Rachel in violation of the law.  The package store may very well be liable.  Also Christian is likely to be liable to Rachel for her injuries.

If you have been injured in an alcohol related incident and want more information about recovering for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering you can contact the Law Office of Isaac J. Mass.   If your loved one has died as a result of an alcohol related incident you may have an action for wrongful death, contact the Law Office of Isaac J. Mass for more information. Attorney Mass can meet with you at his Greenfield office or come to you by appointment.


(c) 2012 Law Office of Isaac J. Mass, 289 Main Street, Suite 201 Greenfield, MA 01301