508-240-1403 [email protected]

Zawadzkas Law is a family business that represents people in the matters of criminal defense, domestic relations and personal injury on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. If you have been arrested for Drunk Driving (OUI/DUI/DWI) on Cape Cod or have been injured in an automobile accident, please contact our office for a free consultation.

Meet The Attorneys

Representing the Cape and Islands for over 50 years

We are a small family business that cares about the people in our community. Whether you have been arrested, in a car accident or are considering a divorce we are here to help you and your family.

Mike Zawadzkas & Elisa Zawadzkas Ridley

Click here to check out the Cape Cod Times article “Cape Father’s Day: Following in dad’s footsteps” featuring Mike and Elisa.

Michael A. Zawadzkas

Michael A. Zawadzkas


I have been representing people arrested for OUI and other criminal matters since 1987 on the Cape. My daughter Elisa joined the firm about 10 years ago. I have tried hundreds of cases over the years, in Orleans, Barnstable and Falmouth District courts. We have also handled cases off Cape in Plymouth and Bristol Counties. We have challenged the Breathalyzer on many occasions.

When you are arrested it is important to consult with an OUI attorney right away. We analyze the case and make sure that everything that was done by the police was proper and legal.

Did they have reasonable suspicion to pull you over?

Did they have probable cause to order you out of your car?

Will the digital recording (if there is one) be preserved?

Can they prove you were operating a motor vehicle?

These questions, to name a few, are important elements that the Commonwealth must prove.

Your initial consultation is free, so call us should you need an effective OUI defense.


Email Attorney Michael Zawadzkas

Specializing In
  • Drunk Driving (OUI, DUI, and DWI)
  • Personal Injury
  • Traffic Accidents
  • Slips and Falls
  • District Court Criminal Cases
  • National Seashore Cases
  • Columbia University, BA (1973)
  • Western New England Law School, JD (1977)
Elisa Zawadzkas Ridley

Elisa Zawadzkas Ridley


Elisa’s practice concentrates on family law and criminal defense. She represents clients at the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Board of Appeals for license suspensions due to Breathalyzer Refusals, OUI, Immediate Threat/Medical Emergency, and Habitual Traffic Offender. She also represents individuals injured in traffic accidents.

She has been successfully representing persons charged with drunk driving (OUI, DUI, and DWI) on Cape Cod since joining the firm in 2006 and was named by Super Lawyers magazine as 2015 Rising Star for criminal defense: DWI/DUI.  She was featured in 2015 Cape Cod Magazine as one of ten “Most Inspirational Women” and was a 2014 Cape & Plymouth Business magazine 40 Under 40 Award winner.

Elisa graduated from the College of the Holy Cross where she played Division 1 basketball qualifying for the NCAA tournament 3 times and was tri-captain her senior year. She received her Juris Doctor from New England Law and is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and the Federal District Courts. Elisa has had over 50 trials and regularly attends continuing legal education seminars relevant to her practice. She is a Cape Cod native growing up in Orleans and presently residing in West Dennis, with her husband Aaron. She is civic-minded. She has served on the Town of Dennis Zoning Board of Appeals since 2008 and was a 2014 Democratic Candidate for State Representative for the 1stBarnstable District.

Email Attorney Elisa Zawadzkas Ridley

Specializing In
  • Divorce/Separation
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support/Alimony
  • Contempt/Modification
  • Drunk Driving (OUI, DUI, and DWI)
  • District Court Criminal Defense
  • RMV / Board of Appeals / License Suspensions
Professional and Civic Affiliations
  • Nauset Public Schools (through grade 10)
  • Deerfield Academy, Diploma (1998)
  • College of the Holy Cross, B.A. (2002)
  • New England Law, J.D. (2005)
Awards & Recognition
  • Super Lawyers magazine, 2015-2017 (2015 Rising Star)
  • Cape & Plymouth Business magazine, 2015 40 Under 40 Award winner
  • Cape Cod Magazine, 2015 recognized as 1 of 10 “Most Influential Women”
  • First Justices’ Award for Pro Bono Publico Excellence, 2012- 2019
  • Certificate of Competency, BAC DataMaster and Basic Science of Evidential Breath Alcohol Testing
  • Pensions & QDROs – Boston, MA
  • 26th Annual Law Conference – Chatham, MA
  • Handling Motor Vehicle Accident Cases – Boston, MA
  • Family & Probate Conciliation Training – Hyannis, MA
  • CPCS Superior Court Training Program – Worcester, MA
  • Family Law Annual Conference – Boston, MA
  • Diving into a DUI Case – Key West, FL
  • Alimony Summit – Boston, MA
  • National College of Drunk Driving Defense Harvard Session – Cambridge, MA
  • Alimony: Beyond the Fundamentals – Barnstable, MA
  • Family Law 14th Annual Conference – Boston, MA
  • OUI Summit 2010 – Boston, MA
  • Probate and Family Court Categories E & F – Springfield, MA
  • Family Court Judicial Forum – Plymouth, MA
  • Family Law Trial Advocacy – Boston, MA
  • Tax Aspects of Divorce – Waltham, MA
  • Divorce Law Basics – Boston, MA
  • 13th Annual Family Law Conference – Boston, MA
  • Zoning Law – Boston, MA
  • Trend in Alimony – Boston, MA
  • DataMaster Breath Testing Course – Mansfield, OH
  • NCDD Summer Session – Cambridge, MA
  • CPCS Trial Skills Workshop- Worcester, MA
  • A DUI Extravaganza: Details for the Skilled Practitioner – Boston, MA
  • Deciphering the new law on Marijuana Law – Boston, MA
  • A Guide to the Guide- An Overview to the MA Guide to Evidence – Boston, MA
  • Traffic Defense Seminar – Boston, MA
  • Civil Litigation Bootcamp – Boston, MA
  • Breath Test Seminar – Boston, MA
  • National College of DUI Defense – Boston, MA
  • Trying OUI Cases in MA – Boston, MA
  • MCLE- MA Motor Vehicle Torts and Litigation – Boston, MA
  • National College DUI Defense – Boston, MA
  • Zealous Advocacy in the District Court – Boston, MA
  • Representing the OUI Client – Boston, MA

Services We Provide

Specialized service in the follow areas

OUI / DUI / DWI / Drunk Driving Defense

Zawadzkas Law has over 50 years of combined experience in representing individuals accused of committing crimes on Cape Cod. Our practice concentrates on drunk driving (OUI, DUI, DWI) defense, for which we are widely recognized. Elisa was one of 8 lawyers in New England to be named by Super Lawyers Magazine (2015) as a Rising Star in the area of OUI Defense. We will listen, analyze the facts specific to your case and educate you on your rights, potential exposure and the possible outcomes. With us in your corner, you will be well- equipped to fight the charges or make the most informed decisions to successfully navigate through the criminal justice process.

Family Law

Zawadzkas Law provides quality representation to ensure your voice is heard and your position is clear in every aspect of a domestic relations case. We will make your problem ours and be available, responsive and your biggest advocate. Our experience and expertise will help in finding a creative solution for you and your family where one might not seem possible. You will be fully informed of your rights and potential liability through all the stages of the proceeding. We will advocate tirelessly on your behalf.  We negotiate fairly, professionally and effectively to help you achieve the best possible outcome in the most cost-effective way possible.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

What To Do in Case of a Motor Vehicle Accident
  • Call Police.
  • Do not move your vehicle.
  • Exchange name, address and insurance company with other party.
  • Do not accept responsibility or otherwise discuss the accident with anyone other than police authorities.
  • Identify other persons, including witnesses and vehicles involved in the accident.
  • If you think that you were injured at all, seek medical treatment immediately.
  • Report the accident immediately to your attorney or call us at 508-240-1403.

OUI / DUI / DWI / Drunk Driving Information You Need To Know

The rules in Massachusetts are constantly changing
  • If you are arrested for drunk driving, you will be asked to take a breathalyzer test.
  • The legal blood alcohol content limit (BAC) for drivers is 0.08. In addition, drivers under 21 will face license suspensions for BACs as low as 0.02.
  • If you fail the test, your license will be immediately suspended for 30 days. If you refuse the test, your license will be immediately suspended for 180 days or up to life, and your vehicle will be impounded. In either case, you will go to court to face criminal charges.
  • Drunk driving convictions remain on your driving record for life.
  • If the court convicts you, this will go on your record as a drunk driving offense and you will face the consequences detailed inside.

The following brochure, published by the State of Massachusetts, outlines the cost and penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction.

The Act Increasing Penalties For Drunk Drivers in the Commonwealth, also known as “Melanie’s Law,” went into effect on October 28, 2005. Its purpose, as suggested by its name, is to enhance the penalties and administrative sanctions for Operating Under the Influence (OUI) offenders in Massachusetts. Melanie’s Law requires that an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) be used both by drivers with a hardship license and by drivers whose licenses are eligible for reinstatement. In addition to this new law, the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is changing its policy regarding who is eligible for a hardship license. To be eligible for a hardship license, you must now be able to present proof that you do not have access by public transportation to your required destination.

The following brochure, published by the State of Massachusetts, outlines the cost and penalties associated with Melanie’s Law

An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a handheld breath-alcohol monitoring device that is electronically connected to a vehicle’s ignition. Before starting the vehicle, the device requires the driver to take and pass a breath test.

If you have two or more drunk driving offenses and are eligible for a hardship license or for license reinstatement, you must have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in any vehicle you own, lease, or operate.

For a hardship license, the device must be used for the entire life of the hardship, and at least an additional two years after full reinstatement.

For a full license reinstatement, the device must be used for at least two years.

A driver must forfeit his/her motorcycle license for the term of the IID restriction. Mandatory Ignition Interlock Vendor Fees: $100 – $500 install, $85+ monthly

The following brochure, published by the State of Massachusetts, explains, in detail, the use of an Ignition Interlock Device

OUI / DUI / DWI / Drunk Driving - Frequently Asked Questions

The best defense is a good offense
What do police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers on the highways?
The following is a list of symptoms in descending order of probability that the person observed is driving while intoxicated. The list is based upon research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Administration:

  • Turning with a wide radius
  • Straddling center of lane marker
  • “Appearing to be drunk”
  • Almost striking object or vehicle
  • Weaving
  • Driving on other than designated highway
  • Swerving
  • Speed more than 10 mph below limit
  • Stopping without cause in traffic lane
  • Following too closely
  • Drifting
  • Tires on center or lane marker
  • Braking erratically
  • Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
  • Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
  • Slow response to traffic signals
  • Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)
  • Turning abruptly or illegally
  • Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
  • Headlights off

Speeding, incidentally, is not a symptom of DUI – because of quicker judgment and reflexes, it may indicate sobriety.

If I'm stopped by a police officer and he asks me if I've been drinking, what should I say?
You are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions. You have a right to remain silent. Do so.
Do I have a right to an attorney when I'm stopped by an officer and asked to take a field sobriety test?
As a general rule in MA, there is no right to an attorney until you have submitted to (or refused) blood, breath or urine testing.
What is the officer looking for during the initial detention at the scene?
The traditional symptoms of intoxication taught at the police academies are:

  • Flushed face
  • Red, watery, glassy and/or bloodshot eyes
  • Odor of alcohol on breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Fumbling with wallet trying to get license
  • Failure to comprehend the officer’s questions
  • Staggering when exiting vehicle
  • Swaying/instability on feet
  • Leaning on car for support
  • Combative, argumentative, jovial or other “inappropriate” attitude
  • Soiled, rumpled, disorderly clothing
  • Stumbling while walking
  • Disorientation as to time and place
  • Inability to follow directions
What should I do If I'm asked to take field sobriety tests?
There are a wide range of field sobriety tests (FSTs), including heel-to-toe, finger to nose, one leg stand, alphabet recitation, modified position of attention. You are not legally required to take any FSTs. The reality is that officers have usually made up their minds to arrest when they give the FSTs. The tests are simply additional evidence which the suspect inevitably “fails”; Thus, in most cases, a polite refusal may be appropriate.
Should I agree to take a chemical test? What happens if I don't?
The consequences of refusing to submit to a breath examination:

  • Your drivers license will be suspended for 180 days. This is true even if you are found not guilty of the DUI charge.
  • The fact of refusal can not be introduced into evidence.
Do I have a choice of chemical tests? Which should I choose?
In Massachusetts you have a choice — usually, of breath or blood. If you choose breath, Massachusetts permits you to have a second test of blood or urine; this is because a breath sample is not saved and so cannot later be re-analyzed by the defense. Analysis of a blood sample is potentially the most accurate. Breath machines are susceptible to a number of problems rendering them often unreliable. The least accurate by far, however, is urinalysis. Therefore, if you are confident that you are sober, a blood sample is the wise choice. Urine, being least accurate and most easily impeached, is the best option if you believe your blood-alcohol concentration is above the legal limit.
The officer never gave me a Miranda warning: Can I get my case dismissed?
No. The officer is supposed to give a 5th Amendment warning after he arrests you. Often, however, they do not. The only consequence is that the prosecution cannot use any of your answers to questions asked by the police after the arrest.
Do I have a choice of chemical tests? Which should I choose?
In Massachusetts you have a choice — usually, of breath or blood. If you choose breath, Massachusetts permits you to have a second test of blood or urine; this is because a breath sample is not saved and so cannot later be re-analyzed by the defense. Analysis of a blood sample is potentially the most accurate. Breath machines are susceptible to a number of problems rendering them often unreliable. The least accurate by far, however, is urinalysis. Therefore, if you are confident that you are sober, a blood sample is the wise choice. Urine, being least accurate and most easily impeached, is the best option if you believe your blood-alcohol concentration is above the legal limit.
The officer took my license and served me with a notice of suspension after the breath test. How can he do that if I'm presumed innocent?
Agreed, it is blatantly unfair. But the law in most states having a “per se” statute provides for immediate suspension and confiscation of the license if the breath test result is above the legal limit.
How can I find a qualified drunk driving lawyer?
The best way to find a good DUI/DWI lawyer is by reputation. There are a few attorneys who have national reputations. These persons are, of course, are expensive. Thus, the best approach is to ask other attorneys in the jurisdiction: who is the best in the area? If you do not know any attorneys, go to the local courthouse and ask people like court officers, clerks and public defenders: who would THEY go to if arrested for drunk driving? Contrary to popular belief, it is not a wise idea to obtain a referral from the local Bar association or referral service. There are rarely any qualifications required for an attorney to be on a referral list; he usually only has to ask to be.

  • The attorney has extensive experience in DUI/DWI litigation.
  • The attorney has a reputation for going to trial in appropriate cases, rather than just “copping out” his clients.
  • The financial terms of representation are clear.
What will it cost to get a lawyer?
This varies, of course, by the reputation and experience of the lawyer and by the geographic location. As with doctors, generally, the more skilled the attorney and the larger the city, the higher the fee. A related factor is the amount of time a lawyer devotes to his cases: the better lawyers take fewer clients, spending more hours on each. The range of fees is huge. A general practitioner in a small community may charge only $2000. A DUI specialist with a national reputation may charge $7500 and up. In addition, the fee may vary by such other factors as:

  • Is the offense a misdemeanor or felony?
  • If prior convictions are alleged, the procedures for attacking them may add to the cost.
  • The fee may or may not include trial or appeals.
  • Administrative license suspension procedures may also be extra.
  • The lawyer may charge a fixed fee, or he may ask for a retainer in advance — to be applied against charges.
  • Costs such as witness fees, independent blood analysis, service of subpoenas, etc., may be extra. Whatever the fee quoted, you should ask for a written agreement and make sure you understand all the terms.
What is the punishment for drunk driving?
Generally speaking, a conviction for a first offense involves a fine, a license suspension, attendance at a OUI education course for a period of 16 weeks, and probation for 1 year. Additional punishment for a second offense, usually involves 2 weeks at a treatment facility and 2 years probation.

After a trial the judge has to make written findings as to why the defendant should not serve 60 days in jail.

What is a rising BAC defense?
It is unlawful to have an excessive blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of DRIVING — not at the time of being TESTED. Since it takes between 45 minutes and 3 hours for alcohol to be absorbed into the system, an individual’s BAC may continue to rise for some time after he is stopped and arrested. Commonly, it is an hour or more after the stop when the blood, breath or urine test is given to the suspect. Assume that the result is .12%. If the suspect continues to absorb alcohol after being stopped, his BAC at the time he was driving may have been only .08%. In other words, the test result shows a blood-alcohol concentration above the legal limit — but his actual BAC AT THE TIME OF DRIVING was below.


Hear what our clients have to say

Elisa, I wanted to take the time to thank you. You treated me with kindness, respect and compassion. You work hard and it shows. Taking the extra time with me to make some important decisions is very much appreciated and certainly didn't go unnoticed.

– Thank you. L.P.

Mike, Having you as an attorney was definitely an early X-Mas for me in September

– Thanks, B.D.

Thank you again. I really appreciate your efforts and think the way you cross examined the Brewster Police officers was brilliant.

– Thanks, C.L.

Elisa, Thank you for all your expertise yesterday. It is such a difference to wake up today and feel free to get on with my life and have my name cleared. My friends and family who have supported me through this send a big thank you as well. You were wonderful. I knew it was not going to not be easy. Thank you for your patience, professionalism and helping me have my name cleared.

– Thanks, M.D.

Elisa, Thank you for all of your diligence and hard work. You have no idea how much this meant to both of us, not only to prevail legally, but morally as well. You will not be forgotten.

– Respectfully, R.D.

Elisa, Thank you so much for all you did for us in this ridiculous court case! We so appreciated your willingness to take time to explain things to us, to prepare us for trial, to respond to our questions in a timely manner, and to do such a great job in court. If you ever need a reference, we would be happy to provide one.

– Thank you again. J & S

Elisa, I cannot thank you enough for how brilliantly you handled my trial. I can now go back to school, apply for the job I have wanted to for awhile and can do it without that OUI hanging over me. With that, I could not have moved forward in my life as a nurse- so thank you! You were so impressive at my trial; so composed and smart. Plus, your charisma didn’t hurt. I want you to know that I totally learned my lesson that night and mean it when I said I haven’t drank since then. I learned that alcohol has no place in my life and can cause huge problems. You are the best.

– Thanks again! K.K.

I am sure you have heard the fantastic news of last Friday’s trial. I wanted to say thanks… and most importantly tell you what a great job Elisa did. She really was excellent. While we may have had a little luck on our side to have gotten as favorable a decision as we did… Elisa really punched some holes in their entire process and won it for us. I couldn’t have been happier.

– Thanks! S.S.

Hi Elisa, Thanks again for everything! I hope your father praised you for your exceptional victory–this has GOT to mean ultimate respect in the courtroom! So many thanks!!!

– Thanks! C.V.

Dear Elisa, I can’t thank you enough for all you did to help me with my case. Everything seems to be working itself out. I know it was not easy. Thanks again and I hope all is well.

– M.S.

Thank you for all your help and guidance through a very difficult process. I really appreciate all your hard work that helped me to resolve this issue.

– J.G.

Elisa, It is great to win! I hope this allows you to celebrate and continue on the path of great courtroom victories. Thank you.

– J.M.

Elisa, Without your help my license would not have been possible. Thank you Again.

– A.D.

Hi, Elisa. I just want to thank you again for all your hard work on my trial. I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving. Thank you.

– Matt

Elisa and her father were extremely supportive. They both explained every step of the process and the possible outcomes. Fortunately, my outcome was very positive thanks to their professionalism and expertise with the law. They guided me through an extremely challenging “road block” in my life. Thank You Again!

– R.M.

Elisa and Michael Zawadzkas are extremely thorough and professional. They get the job done and I can’t thank them enough. On extremely short notice they took control of a situation I was unfortunately in and produced an outstanding result. I can highly recommend them.

– Simon

I wanted to sincerely thank you for all your hard work throughout my case. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. The thanks from everyone on this note includes me, my mom, sisters and the rest of my friends and family.

– Jay

Thank you for the competent and intelligent disposal of my case – you got the best possible result given the circumstances.

– Jack

Recent Cases

It's our goal to get you the best possible outcome
T. V. 2/19/2020 Leaving the Scene of Property Damage No Complaint Issued
R. L. 2/11/2020 Assault & Battery Dismissed
J. Q. 1/28/2020 Assault with Dangerous Weapon Dismissed
D. C. 1/17/2020 Assault with Dangerous Weapon Dismissed
A. L. 1/13/2020 Marked Lanes Violation No Complaint Issued
M.R 12/20/2019 Assault with Dangerous Weapon Dismissed
B.G. 11/21/2019 Violate 209(a) Dismissed
R.S. 11/6/2019 OUI 2nd offense Not Guilty
S.O. 10/15/2019 OUI Not Guilty
G.G. 10/10/2019 OUI Not Guilty
T.D. 9/27/2019 OUI Not Guilty
L.B. 9/27/2019 OUI Dismissed
M.B. 9/24/2019 OUI Not Guilty
K.K. 9/10/2019 OUI Not Guilty
S.S. 9/3/2019 OUI Not Guilty
N.N. 8/13/2019 OUI Not Guilty
N.P. 8/7/2019 OUI Not Guilty
J.O. 6/11/2019 Assault & Battery Dismissed
K.B. 5/28/2019 Threatening to Commit Crime No Complaint Issued
G.N. 5/28/2019 Assault & Battery Dismissed
J.H. 5/23/2019 OUI 2nd offense Dismissed
P.M. 5/15/2019 OUI Not Guilty
T.F. 5/14/2019 Larceny Over $1200 Not Guilty
K.S. 4/9/2019 Assault & Battery Dismissed
S.A. 3/25/2019 Speeding Not Responsible
P.K. 3/12/2019 Operating on Suspended License  No Complaint Issued
A.C. 3/6/2019 Assault & Battery Dismissed
A.R. 3/1/2019 Leaving the Scene of Property Damage No Complaint Issued
N.R. 2/27/2019 OUI Not Guilty
J.A. 2/16/2019 OUI Not Guilty
A.E. 2/13/2019 Threatening to Commit Crime, Witness Intimidation Dismissed
R.W. 1/25/2019 Reckless Endangerment of a Child Dismissed
W.E. 12/19/2018 Violation of Harassment Protection Order No Complaint Issued
N.Q. 12/11/2018 OUI Not Guilty
W.D. 12/5/2018 OUI Not Guilty
P.E. 11/30/2018 OUI Not Guilty
W.G. 11/29/2018 OUI Nolle Pros
M.N. 11/27/2018 OUI Not Guilty
R.B. 11/5/2018 Accessory After the Fact Nolle Pros
E.R. 10/31/2018 OUI DRC
E.B. 10/29/2018 Negligent Operation No Complaint Issued
C.C. 10/24/2018 OUI Not Guilty
B.D. 10/1/2018 Speeding DRC
J.P. 9/25/2018 Assault & Battery Dismissed
T.T. 9/10/2018 Resisting Arrest DRC
T.M. 8/14/2018 OUI Not Guilty
D.S. 7/23/2018 OUI Not Guilty
V.D. 7/13/2018 OU Drugs Dismissed
K.M. 7/11/2018 Speeding Not Responsible
R.B. 6/26/2018 OUI Not Guilty
B.M. 6/26/2018 Assault & Battery, Disorderly Conduct Dismissed
D.C. 6/12/2018 Restraining Order Dismissed
J.A. 6/11/2018 OUI Dismissed
J.E. 5/29/2018 OUI Not Guilty
B.C. 5/15/2018 OUI Not Guilty
C.S. 5/1/2018 Restraining Order Denied

Contact Us

Your initial consultation is free, so call or email us should you need an effective OUI defense.
161 Cranberry Hwy.
Orleans, MA 02653
Phone: 508-240-1403
Fax: 508-240-3440
Email: [email protected]

Contact Us