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DUI Checkpoint This Weekend: What Are Your Rights?

Thursday, April 03, 2014


A sobriety checkpoint (also known as a DUI checkpoint) will be set up by the Massachusetts State Police in Worcester County this weekend at undisclosed locations and times on Saturday April 5th and Sunday April 6th.

Sobriety checkpoints have been a consistently debated issue throughout the nation and different states have varying perspectives on the issue. Currently 12 states –  Rhode Island being the only New England state – view these checkpoints as illegal under a statute or the interpretation of the State or Federal Constitution. 

The legality of these checkpoints have been challenged in every state including Massachusetts, but the State Police points to them as an effective way to pull drunk drivers off the streets. 

“On average, checkpoints result in anywhere from a half dozen arrests on the low end to close to 20 on the high end,” said Dave Procopio, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts State Police. “We have found checkpoints to be an effective tool in our overall approach to combating impaired driving.”

Laws and Regulations

Both the Fourth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights say that the police cannot stop someone without reason. Because of the 2009 Massachusetts Supreme Court case Commonwealth vs. Robert Murphy however, the state has still found sobriety checkpoints to be legal because in theory everyone who drives through it is stopped, therefore eliminating all bias from the situation.

The checkpoints themselves may be legal but strict guidelines have been put into place on a state level to make sure that no one is taken advantage of. 

“The sobriety checkpoint has to be done in accordance with a set plan,” said Greg Benoit, a Worcester attorney and former assistant district attorney. “There are a lot of things that need to be followed or else it becomes a Constitutional issue.”

Police must make sure to check a set number of cars – for example every fourth car – and cannot deviate from the number that they set at any point during the checkpoint. When a vehicle is stopped, an officer or trooper is permitted to engage in a brief discussion to gauge the vehicle operator’s impairment level. If probable cause is determined for a potential OUI (Operation of a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol) case, then the officer or trooper is allowed to direct the person to a pit area for additional screening. 

At this point in the encounter, the officer or trooper in question is allowed to engage in further conversation to determine whether or not there is probable cause to conduct a field sobriety test. 

If a person is charged with an OUI, the defendant in question is allowed to challenge whether or not the checkpoint was constitutional, which places the burden on the prosecutor to determine whether or not proper guidelines were followed. 

Many DUI and OUI defense lawyers and attorneys say that a strong case for a trial can be possible because generally there is no evidence of erratic driving, especially when an officer or trooper directs the person in question to drive over to the pit area. Also, because the checkpoints rely heavily on a field sobriety test for an arrest, whether or not the driver in question was legally over the limit is debatable because of the unreliability of such tests. 

The other portion of sobriety checkpoints that many debate is how much information the State Police is required to release when conducting a sobriety checkpoint. While the average citizen would hope to be completely informed as to the specifics of such checkpoints, laws dictate that not much has to be said. 

“State police are required to announce the reasoning behind the sobriety checkpoint,” said Benoit. “All they are required to say is what county and what day they will be setting up the checkpoint; that is all the law requires them to say.” 

Policing Drunk Driving

Sobriety checkpoints are one way that the Massachusetts State Police has attempted to crack down on drunk driving in the state. In 2012, Massachusetts ranked 28th in the nation with 123 alcohol impaired driving fatalities, down three from the previous year’s total. 

The Massachusetts State Police conducts around 70 to 80 sobriety checkpoints per year in conjunction with local police and with grants provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and distributed through the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security as an effort to cut down on these dead totals. 

State Police are not required to disclose of the exact time and location of a sobriety checkpoint because doing so would compromise the checkpoint, but there is a certain logic that goes into setting a location and time. 

“We usually conduct them on weekend nights or the nights before holidays,” said Procopio. “The location is chosen based on statistical information that indicates that the location where they are held is subject to a high volume of traffic and is part of an area that sees high numbers of OUI related crashes and arrests.”

Massachusetts State Police continue to enforce the sobriety checkpoints because they have been successful in both catching and deterring drunk drivers throughout the state. Procopio says that checkpoints are an effective way to gauge drunk drivers because each vehicle passing through the checkpoint is subjected to a threshold observation. 

Giving the trooper or officer a brief period to engage in brief conversation allows for visual observations to be made about the driver’s impairment that may not be seen while driving. If the trooper or officer believes probable cause exists for a more detailed examination, they are permitted to wave the car over to a pit area for a more detailed analysis which usually comes in the form of a field sobriety test. 

“We certainly hope that they are a deterrent, but they are primarily effective because every car going through the checkpoint is subject to a threshold observation by a trooper or officer,” said Procopio. “We have found checkpoints to be an effective tool in our overall approach to combating impaired driving.”

Support for Checkpoints

While a call to action against drunk driving is a concept that nearly anyone can support, there are still those who cite privacy concerns as a major issue. Anyone driving through a sobriety checkpoint may be concerned about privacy and a warrantless search and seizure but MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Massachusetts spokesperson David DeIuliis says that people who don’t drive under the influence have nothing to worry about.

“I don’t think that there are any disadvantages to sobriety checkpoints,” said  DeIuliis. “If you are not drunk, going through one of them is a pretty painless experience. I have been through a few myself and they don’t oppose that much of a delay either.” 

MADD is one of the many organizations throughout the United States that is committed to eliminating drunk driving and other alcohol related issues by imposing stricter laws and regulations. DeIuliis stated the MADD has no opposition to the sobriety checkpoints because they are there to target people who are driving drunk; the average person driving through shouldn’t feel any intimidation.

DeIuliis also pointed to these checkpoints as a great collaboration between the state and local police and that although there are laws and regulations in place to combat drunk driving, an increased police presence is one of the best ways to pull drunk drivers off the street, whether by deterrence or an arrest. 

“We whole-heartedly support sobriety checkpoints,” said DeIuliis. “In the past eight to 10 years a huge number of the have been done; they do an excellent job of taking drunk drivers off the streets. They are just a fantastic way to combat drunk driving; I really don’t see a downside.”


Related Slideshow: 10 Big Worcester Busts in March

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St. Patty's Parade

Man Threatened with Gun at St. Patrick's Parade

March 9

On Sunday, March 9, 2014 members of the Operations Division, Detective Bureau, Vice Squad, Street Violence Prevention Team and the Gang Unit were assigned to the area around Park Avenue during the St. Patrick's Parade.
Worcester Police received information that 20-year-old Theodore Sullivan threatened another individual with a handgun during the parade. Officers saw Mr. Sullivan walking in a group heading North on Park Avenue.  The group approached the area of Park Avenue and Winfield Street.
Mr. Sullivan discarded the handgun as police approached him.  Officers observed the handgun in the grassy area directly in front of Mr. Sullivan.
Mr. Theodore Sullivan, 20, 82 Laurel Wood Road, Sterling, was charged with Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Carrying a Firearm without a License and Use of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony.
A juvenile male and a male identified as 18-year-old Joseph Terven of Worcester were both with Mr. Sullivan.  The two teens were uncooperative and caused a disturbance. As a result of their actions pedestrian traffic had to be stopped.  The pair became increasing combative with officers.
Mr. Joseph Terven, 18, of 80 Mulberry Street, Apartment 1, Worcester was charged with Disorderly Conduct and Disturbing the Peace.
The juvenile of Worcester was also charged with Disorderly Conduct and Disturbing the Peace.
Sullivan also has a case pending for unlawful carrying of a firearm in 2013.
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Hit and Run

Juvenile Driver Identified and Arrested for Hit and Run Pedestrian Accident
March 2
Worcester Police responded to the area of 165 Belmont Street for a report of a pedestrian accident on February 28. Upon the officers' arrival they observed a 23-year-old female victim suffering from head, leg and arm injuries. 
The victim was transported to U-Mass Medical Center (university campus) for treatment and is currently listed in serious condition. 
The preliminary investigation indicated that the pedestrian was attempting to cross Belmont Street when she was struck in the west bound travel lane. The vehicle that struck the pedestrian failed to stop and fled the scene prior to police arrival. The suspect vehicle was described as a gray/silver sedan with damage to the passenger front fender. 
The Worcester Police Accident Reconstruction Team was called to the scene to investigate.
On Sunday, March 2, 2014, investigating officers interviewed the operator of the suspect vehicle at Worcester Police headquarters. The operator of the vehicle is a 17-year-old juvenile male. As a result of information obtained during the interview, the juvenile was issued citations for Leaving the Scene of a Personal Injury, Negligent Operation of a MV to Endanger, Failure to Slow for a Pedestrian in a Roadway and a Junior Operator License Violation with regard to a Passenger Restriction.
The operator will be summonsed into the Worcester County District Juvenile Courthouse at a date yet to be determined.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for the suspect vehicle. The vehicle was located on South Ludlow Street and towed to police headquarters for a full mechanical inspection.
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Street-Level Drug Dealing

3 Street-Level Heroin Dealers Arrested
March 27
Members of the Worcester Police Vice Squad were conducting an investigation on street level drug dealing.  As a result of the investigation, officers attempted to conduct a vehicle stop on Spurr Street.  The operator of the vehicle was identified as 27-year-old Victor Diaz of Worcester.  Mr. Diaz was in possession of 21 knotted bags of heroin. 
Officers obtained a search warrant for this apartment located at 6 Mott Street.  Inside the apartment were two individuals identified as 23-year-old Neftali Cruz and 19 year-old Jan Carlos River-Maldonado.  A search of the apartment revealed 71 knotted bags of heroin weighing approximately 30 grams. Officers also seized $999 cash and paperwork.
Victor Diaz, 27, of 6 Mott Street, Apartment 1, Worcester was charged with Trafficking in Heroin, 14-27 Grams, Possession of Class A Substance with Intent to Manufacture, Distribution of Class A Substance and Conspiracy to Violate the Controlled Substance Laws.
Neftali Cruz, 23, of 157 Chandler Street, Apartment 2, Worcester, was charged with Trafficking in Heroin, 14-27 Grams, Possession of Class A Substance with Intent to Distribute and Conspiracy to Violate the Controlled Substance Laws.
Jan Carlos Rivera-Maldonado, 19, of 6 Mott Street Apartment 3, Worcester was charged with Trafficking in Heroin, 14-27 Grams, Possession of Class A Substance with Intent to Distribute and Conspiracy to Violate the Controlled Substance Laws.
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BB Gun Assault

Four Teenagers Arrested for Shooting at Vehicles
March 16
Worcester Police were dispatched to the area of 139 Lincoln Street for a report of Malicious Mischief.  Officers received a call that a group of teenagers were shooting at vehicles with a BB gun.  The caller stated that his passenger side window was shattered from a BB while traveling North on Lincoln Street. When officers arrived on scene they also came across a man who was struck by the BB gun in his shoulder.  The BB put a hole through the man's leather jacket. The victim refused medical treatment.
During the investigation, officers were able to locate four teenagers who were responsible for shooting the BB gun.  Officers also located the two BB guns the teens were using to shoot.
All four juveniles were arrested and charged with the following: Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, Malicious Destruction Over $250, Minor in Possession of a BB Gun, Discharging a BB Gun Across a Public Way and Disturbing the Peace. 
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Prostitution Activities

5 Arrested in Main South for Prostitution
March 20
Members of the Vice Squad were conducting surveillance in the Main South area. The undercover officers were in the area due to numerous citizen complaints of prostitution activities during the early morning hours. Police received specific complaints for the areas surrounding Claremont Academy and Jacob Hiatt Magnet School.
Undercover Vice Officers targeted Main Street by Claremont Street to the area of Jacob Hiatt magnet School.
As a result of this operation the following were arrested just prior to area school openings: 
  • Daniella Dahlstedt, 39-years-old of 162 Chandler Street, Worcester. Charged with Common Street Walker.
  • Amanda Sexton, 24-years-old of 1 West Street, Worcester. Charged with Common Street Walker.
  • Kelly Mendes, 46-year-old of 17 Hollywood Street, Worcester. Charged with Common Street Walker.
  • Danielle Hamalainen, 30-years-old of 25 Queen Street, Worcester. Charged with Sexual Conduct for a Fee and on an outstanding arrest warrant for Assault and Battery.
  • Josephine Mangual, 52-years-old of 2 Oread Street, Worcester. Charged with Common Night Walker. 
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A Kilo of Cocaine

Vehicle Search Leads to Trafficking Arrest

March 6

Members of the Vice Squad and the Street Violence Prevention Team conducted a two month long investigation into the sale and distribution of illegal controlled substances in the City.  As a result of the investigation, officers conducted a stop of a vehicle on Dorchester Street yesterday at approximately 11:30 AM.   In the vehicle was the target of the search, 34-year-old Benjamin Diaz of Worcester.  A search of Mr. Diaz produced more than 100 grams of cocaine packaged for distribution.
Mr. Benjamin Diaz, 34, of 99 Main Street, Worcester was charged with Trafficking in Class B Substance 100-199 Grams and two counts of Drug Violation within 1000 Feet of a School.
The arrest lead police to obtain a search warrant for a room at the Comfort Inn in Auburn.  The operation became a joint investigation with the Auburn Police Department.  During the search police recovered the following:  one kilo of cocaine, drug packaging material, scales and $3,500 cash.
The street value of the total cocaine seized is between $25,000 and $30,000. Additional charges against Mr. Diaz were filed by the Auburn Police Department for Trafficking In Class B Substance.
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Loaded Assault Rifle

Large Capacity, Loaded Assault Rifle Seized in Home Search
March 21
Worcester Police executed a search warrant for an apartment located at 7 Freeland Terrace. The search warrant was the result of a gun investigation that involved the Worcester Police Vice Squad and the Worcester Police Gang Unit. 
The target of the search warrant was for 20-year-old Alisa Perodeau and 22-year-old Richard Afutu. At approximately 5:15 AM, members of the Worcester Police S.W.A.T. Team made entry into the third floor apartment. Ms. Perodeau and Mr. Afutu were located and secured. 
A search of the apartment produced a Smith and Wesson M&P .22 caliber assault rifle. This assault rifle was loaded with a large capacity feeding device that held 16 rounds of ammunition. The serial number to this weapon was obliterated and it was stored unsecured. 
Both suspects were placed under arrest and charged with Improperly Storing a Firearm, Possession of a Large Capacity Firearm and Feeding Device, Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition without an FID Card and Carrying a Firearm without a License. 
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Shot While Driving

2 Victims Shot in Head with BB Gun While Driving
March 5
Worcester Police were dispatched to the area of 17 Chandler Street for a report of gun shots.  Officers were informed that a 44-year-old female was shot in the head with a BB gun while driving in her vehicle.  The victim was stopped in traffic with her window rolled down when the incident occurred.  Upon arrival, officers found a 53-year-old male victim who was shot by a BB gun in the head and shoulder.  He was shot while walking in front of an alley on Chandler Street.  Police were informed that another female was shot in the leg but left the scene prior to their arrival.
The paramedics were called to evaluate the victims.  Both victims were taken to a local hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Witnesses provided officers with details of the incident and directed them to where the shots were fired from.  Additional officers arrived on scene to collect evidence.  Police entered 21 Chandler Street and located a black pellet gun inside an apartment along with several pellets.   They also located the two suspects identified as 19-year-old Christian Cruz and 20-year-old Kennie Mota-Cruz.
Kennie Mota-Cruz, 20, of 21 Chandler Street, Worcester was charged with three counts of Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon and Discharge of a BB Gun or Air Rifle on a Public Way.
Christian Cruz, 19, of 6 Mott Street Apartment 1, Worcester was charged with three counts of Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon and Discharge of a BB Gun or Air Rifle on a Public Way.
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Gas Station Shooting

Man Arrested for Shooting Inside Gas Station
March 16
Worcester Police responded to 185 Madison Street, the Gulf Gas Station, for a report of a fight inside. The first officer to arrive observed several people outside the business. People were standing out in the parking lot and appeared to be scared. Officers were told by the crowd that a male was just shot inside the store and that the person who did it was still there. 
Police secured the perimeter and were able to look inside the business. The officers observed a male victim on the floor. The store clerks were still inside. Police also observed a female grabbing onto the suspect preventing him from leaving the store. The store had several display cases knocked over and food scattered on the floor. The female noticed the police and yelled out that the suspect had just shot her friend. 
Police rushed into the store and apprehended the male. The male was identified as Andrew Callender, 23-years-old of 8 Merton Road. Once Mr. Callender was secured in handcuffs the officers tended to the 40-year-old shooting victim. The victim received a single gunshot wound to his leg. The injury is considered non-life threatening. 
The victim was transported to a nearby hospital and released after treatment. 
According to the preliminary investigation, the victim was in the store when he encountered Mr. Callender. The two males began to fight causing damage inside the business. During the fight Mr. Callender shot the victim in the leg. There were several witnesses during the incident but no other injuries were reported. 
The firearm was recovered and was determined that it had been reported stolen in April 2004 out of North Carolina. 
Mr. Callender was charged with Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, Armed Assault to Murder, Use of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Willful and Malicious Destruction of Property, Carrying a Firearm without a License and Carrying a Loaded Firearm without a License. 
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644 Grams of Heroin

Yearlong Investigation Leads To Multiple Drug Arrests, Cash and Drugs Seized

March 8-10

Police seized a total of $75,717 in cash and approximately 644 grams of heroin which has a street value of approximately $120,000, a stolen handgun and two vehicles. 
On Saturday, March 8, 2014 members of the Worcester Police Vice Squad obtained a search warrant for 17 Shale Street. The search warrant was the result of a year-long joint investigation involving the Worcester Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police and the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office of Joseph Early. This investigation involved wiretaps, surveillance and controlled buys. The target of the search was 28-year-old Gabriel Texidor-Ramos of 100 Chester Street, Fitchburg, MA. At approximately 2:00 PM the Vice Officers executed the warrant for the second floor apartment.
Police forced their way into the apartment; the front door swung open and struck a glass table. There was a large amount of cash on the table which scattered in the air as officers rushed the apartment. Police immediately identified the target present in the apartment. Both the target and a second male, later identified as Ramon Martinez-Perez, 20-years-old of 16 East 208th Street, Bronx, NY, attempted to flee by running out the rear door. As the two were running the officers observed Mr. Ramos attempt to hand Mr. Perez a large plastic bag which fell to the floor. At this time Mr. Ramos attempted to punch one of the officers. A struggle ensued but he was eventually placed in handcuffs.
The plastic bag that fell to the ground contained 309 grams of heroin. The money that was tossed from the glass table amounted to $7,597.
Mr. Perez managed to make it to the rear porch but was apprehended and placed under arrest.

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