Thursday, October 20, 2011

OUI Law - Mass Court Allows Extraterritorial Arrest Under Inevitable Discovery Doctrine

In Commonwealth v. Lahey, --- N.E.2d ----, Mass.App.Ct. , 2011 WL 4790770 (Mass.App.Ct.) a police officer who was outside his jurisdiction, and returning to his territory following an ambulance escort to a hospital, came across a drunk driver travelling in the oncoming lanes, who ran him off the road. He turned around, caught up to the car, and ultimately arrested the individual for DUI. A police officer from the correct town was less than one minute away as a result of a dispatch he had received regarding the same vehicle.
On appeal, the court found that the original stop of the vehicle was improper, as it was an extrajurisdictional arrest by an officer without authority. The court also found that, even though the driver had 7 DUIs and therefore was committing a felony, the stop was not authorized under the felony exception to the law, since the cop had no knowledge of the priors until later. The appeals court also found that there was no community caretaking exception to the extrajurisdictional arrest doctrine, and held that it was up to the legislature to so carve an exception.
However, the appeals court did find that suppression was not available, under the inevitable discovery doctrine. The court found that the proper arresting authority, being so close to the event and having been specifically dispatched to the area for the purpose of finding the drunk driver, would have inevitably stopped and arrested the same.
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