The Dedham District Court will hear charges against Lillian Vespa-Malkin as a result her collision into the rear of a Massachusetts State Police cruiser on Thursday night. The initial report in the Needham Patch indicated: "[t]here is no word on whether the driver will be charged." By 11:30 a.m. the Dedham Patch's update said that she had been arrested and charged with OUI, Operating to Endanger, and a civil marked lanes violation. According to the the Dedham Transcript Ms. Vespa-Malkin was arraigned in the Dedham District Court yesterday.
As for the factual allegations, the articles say that The trooper was working a highway construction detail when Ms. Vespa-Malkin drove her SUV into the driver side rear quarter of the cruiser and caused severe damage to the cruiser. Of course Ms. Vespa-Malkin's vehicle must have sustained heavy damage too. The trooper was treated at the hospital with neck and back injuries and released. The articles do not reveal whether Ms. Vespa-Malkin suffered any injuries, but at a minimum, she must have been severely shaken.
Responding troopers surely investigated and wrote reports that outline the bases for the charges against Ms. Vespa-Malkin. The news reports, however, contain no information on this topic. Some things, however are very clear. 1) Both the trooper and Ms. Vespa-Malkin are lucky that the injuries were not even more serious. 2) These incidents happen far too often. 3) Ms. Vespa-Malkin is in a lot of trouble and needs experienced legal assistance.
Here are some things that will surely be explored. Were there any field sobriety tests? What is the value of such tests for someone who was seriously shaken up from a car crash? Was there a breath test? Was Ms.Vespa-Malkin taken to the hospital? Was there blood drawn and tested for alcohol? Did she make incriminating statements regarding drinking? Does she have witnesses that could help her prove that she was not impaired? Was there any alcohol containers in her vehicle? Did any other vehicles that had been following her stop? What did they see? Were there any construction workers present? Did they see anything? Did the trooper have his flashing blues on at the time of the accident. Was his vehicle in the breakdown lane?
Most importantly, was this just an accident or was it a crime? Perhaps she took her eyes of the road for just an instant. At 60 mph you travel 1/8 of a mile in just 7.5 seconds. Perhaps there is some other reasonable explanation. I expect that someone smelled alcohol. If there had not been such an odor, would there be charges? Probably. If a trooper's vehicle gets hit, the other driver is going to be charged with something. The odor of alcohol will clinch the OUI charge, but proof at trial is another thing. It is entirely possible (again, I have not seen the reports at this point) that alcohol had nothing to do with it, but with all the press involved in these re-occurring events, Ms. Vespa-Malkin has a significant legal challenge on her hands.