Com. v. O'Connor, 420 Mass. 630, 650 N.E.2d 800 (1995).

Facts: Around midnight on May 14, 1993, there was a two-car collision on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. When State Trooper Robert Ahern arrived at the scene, he observed approximately six people attending to an injured person near two significantly damaged cars. When Ahern asked the group who had been driving either of the two cars, the defendant identified himself as one of the operators. Ahern asked for the defendant's license and registration. In answer to a question put by the police officer as to what happened in the accident, the defendant said that the other operator had run a red light. Noting that the defendant's eyes were glassy and red, Ahern asked the defendant if he had been drinking; the defendant responded affirmatively. Ahern then administered several field sobriety tests, which the defendant did not perform well. The defendant was then arrested.

Held: There was sufficient evidence to compel the inference that the defendant did operate the motor vehicle, thus providing corroboration of the defendant's statement that he was operating the motor vehicle. The court noted that the officer confirmed the defendant's version of the accident with other witnesses and that the finder of fact could infer operation from the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident and from the defendant's cooperation with the field sobriety tests.

Commonwealth v. Mandeville, 63 Mass. App. Ct. 1101, 822 N.E.2d 330 (2005), unpublished opinion.

Facts: A trooper arrived onto the scene to find the defendant in front of a truck that belonged to him. He was holding a gas can and there was no one else in the area. The truck partially blocked an exit ramp, the keys were in the ignition turned to the forward position and the interior lights were illuminated. Only the driver's seat was clear, trash littered the passenger side and there was a cooler on the passenger side floor. The defendant stated, “I ran out of gas”. When he was asked why he was driving after drinking he asserted that he had been dropped off by a friend, whose whereabouts were unknown.

Held: The evidence in the light most favorable was sufficient to conclude that the defendant was the operator of the motor vehicle.

Com. v. Hagblom, 63 Mass. App. Ct. 1103, 823 N.E.2d 434 (2005), unpublished opinion.

Facts: The evidence showed that the defendant was the only occupant and seated in the driver's seat of a vehicle that was “parked” in a travel lane on a public street and blocking the road that intersected that street. The officer put his hand on the hood of the vehicle and found the engine to be warm. When the defendant got out of the car the keys fell out of his lap.

Held: The evidence in the light most favorable was sufficient to conclude that the defendant was the operator of the motor vehicle. The warm engine and the keys to the vehicle being in the defendant's lap reinforced the inference that he had recently driven to that location.

Com. v. Ryan, 63 Mass. App. Ct. 1117, 828 N.E.2d 66 (2005).

Facts: The police arrested the defendant in the parking lot of a private club that was also used by the owners of abutting apartments for overnight parking. When asked by the officer if he was driving the Cadillac, the defendant responded “what the (expletive) do you think?”

Held: The jury could reasonably have inferred that the defendant drove the Cadillac to the parking lot. To reach the parking lot, the defendant would have to have driven on a way to which the public has access.

Com. v. Boothby, 64 Mass. App. Ct. 582, 834 N.E.2d 1202 (2005).

Facts: On July 22, 2003, at 3:00 a.m., Mansfield police Officer Paul Whitty arrived at the scene of a single-car rollover accident on Route 106 in Mansfield. Three people, including the defendant, were seated on the curb. One of the three, Brandon Travis, immediately approached the officer and told him that he (Travis) had been driving at the time of the accident. After Travis failed a series of field sobriety tests, the officer arrested him. At that point, the defendant, the registered owner of the car, approached the officer and told him that she had been operating the vehicle. The defendant also failed field sobriety tests. The officer asked Ryan Hitchcock, the third person, if he knew who had been operating the car. Hitchcock responded that he was “ninety percent sure” the defendant was driving, because he remembered her saying she wanted to drive. The officer then arrested the defendant and placed Travis in protective custody. The officer testified that after he arrested the defendant, Travis told him: “I want to take the rap.” At trial, the officer repeated Hitchcock's “ninety percent” statement without objection. Also without objection, the officer testified that in his opinion the defendant had been the driver of the car. Hitchcock did not testify.

Held: Where more than one possible driver is at the scene of a one-car crash, the Held: Where more than one possible driver is at the scene of a one-car crash, the

Com. v. Petersen, 67 Mass. App. Ct. 49, 851 N.E.2d 1102 (2006).

Facts: A police officer responded to a location where he observed an automobile on the front lawn of a residence. Tire marks indicated that the car had been driven from the street onto the lawn, about ten feet from the street, over a stone wall where the vehicle was lodged. The car, registered to the defendant, was still warm to the touch, indicating that it had been recently driven. It was not disputed that while the officer was speaking with the reporting party, the defendant walked from another yard and up the street towards the area of the accident. The defendant told the officer that he came to get his car and that he did not know what had happened; he further said that he had been picked up by a white car that night at another location in another part of town. While he was speaking with the defendant, the officer observed that the defendant's speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot, and a strong odor of alcohol emanated from him. The defendant confirmed that he had been drinking; had on his person a set of car keys to the vehicle located on the front lawn; and agreed to take a series of field sobriety tests, which he failed, resulting in his arrest. An inventory search of the car revealed a half-empty bottle of whiskey on the front seat and several empty beer bottles on the back seat and the rear floor. When asked, the defendant told the officer that he was twenty years old.

Held: The jury could reasonably have inferred that the defendant was the operator of the car in question. Here, the relevant circumstantial evidence of the defendant's operation reveals that: (1) when the police arrived, the car's engine was still warm, showing that it had been recently driven; (2) he was the registered owner of the car, lived in the neighborhood, and appeared at the scene shortly after the police arrived, acknowledging that he came to pick up his car; (3) he had keys to the car in his possession; (4) he appeared intoxicated and confirmed that he had been drinking, and a half-empty bottle of whiskey and several empty beer bottles were found in the car; (5) he agreed to and complied with field sobriety tests administered by the police officer; (6) there was no evidence tending to indicate that someone other than the defendant was operating the car; and (7) he indicated that he had gotten into a white car in another part of town, in apparent contradiction to the reporting party's testimony that he saw three people drive off in a white car on Cumberland Avenue.

Com. v. Congdon, 68 Mass. App. Ct. 782, 864 N.E.2d 1227 (2007).

Facts: Police officers were called to a stretch of road on Route 27 in Medfield where the first responding officer found at the roadside an automobile still running but disabled by two flat tires on the passenger side. No one was in the car, but, as the officer investigated, the defendant, well dressed but very disheveled, emerged unsteadily from the woods walking toward the car. Two other responding officers then arrived at the scene. One of the other officers asked the defendant if everything was all right, whether there had been an accident, and where she was coming from. The defendant responded only that she was coming from a friend's house in
Sherborn and was going to her home in Canton or Milton—the officer couldn't remember which. The officer noticed a strong odor of alcohol. The defendant had to grab the car for support when
she walked and was then escorted by the police so she would not fall. She acknowledged having one glass of wine at her friend's house. She was glassy eyed and slurred her speech. The officers concluded that she was very intoxicated and took her into custody. They were at the scene for one-half hour in all; there was some wait for a tow truck to remove the disabled car. No other person was in the vicinity or emerged from the woods. On her way to the station house, the defendant asked if there were “something I could [do] to make this all go away.”

Held: The Court held that apart from returning for the pocketbook, the circumstantial evidence permitted an inference beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was the operator. The ignition was on. There was no other person in the vicinity. She was headed to the car when she came out of the woods—a distance of less than ten feet. One could fairly infer that the car was brought to a halt by running off the road and going over some obstacle that punctured the two right tires. The defendant was, manifestly, not in any condition to drive safely or competently. Her behavior was entirely consistent with her having been the operator, and, again, there was no evidence that anyone but her was in the vicinity. The defendant's connection with the car was reinforced by her statements that she had come from a friend's house in Sherborn, the town line of which was three miles away, and was headed to either Milton or Canton, towns beyond Medfield. Her condition made it unlikely that she walked, and she made no mention of another person who might have driven.

(Taken from Drunk Driving Defense in Massachusetts, pg. 23-26)