A new report by state court officials reveals shows that in at least 70 percent of DUI bench trials, defendants are acquitted.
The report, presented to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, reveals statistics on acquittal and conviction rates for DUI cases for bench trials and jury trials at Waltham District Court, as seen in the data below.
The report comes months after the acquittal of a woman who allegedly struck a Waltham man while she was driving under the influence. Bonnie Lee Hicks admitted drinking bebfore getting behind the wheel, failing a field sobriety test and a Breathlyzer test, but a jury found her not guilty of the charges.
The report was written by an outside legal firm at the request of state judicial officials after a Boston Globe series revealed high acquittal rates when defendants had bench trials.Pleas Bench Trials CWOF (Continued without finding) Guilty Total CWOF Not Guilty Guilty Total Waiver Rate Acquittal Rate 444 155 599 0 24 9 33 5% 73% Jury Trials CWOF Not Guilty Guilty Total Acquittal Rate 0 10 18 28 61% Overall Conviction Rate 86%
- Statewide, 77 percent of DUI cases are resolved against the defendant either during a plea hearing or a trial.
- 13 percent are found not guilty by a judge or jury and 10 percent are concluded with other dispositions.
- Statewide, 86 percent of bench trials result in an an acquittal whiel 58 percent of jury trials end in acquittals.
- In Middlesex County, which encompasses Waltham, 80 percent of defendants are acquitted during bench trials, while 54 percent of jury trials end in acquittals. Those figure are based on data from Jan. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2011.
REASONS FOR ACQUITTALS
- DUI cases can be diffciult to prove.
- Prosecutors are sometimes overburdened and inexperienced.
- Brethalyzer results can be difficult to interpret objectively.
- Other factors can explain evidence that otherwise appears incriminating.
- Also, field sobriety tests, which police officers can use to make arrest, are not admissable as evidence in court.
For additional information, visit the Boston Globe series and check out the report in the PDF box to the right.