Boston Drunk Driving Laws

New drunk driving law seems to have quick effects
December 31, 2005

BOSTON — The number of repeat drunken driving arrests in
Massachusetts has dropped 44 percent in the two months since lawmakers
passed Melanie’s law, a tough new measure aimed at habitual
offenders.

In the two months since the law passed, 1,051 repeat offenders were
charged with drunken driving. That’s compared to 1,889 during the same
period a year before, according to statistics from the state Registry of
Motor Vehicles.

Advocates of the law said they were encouraged by the early results,
though they emphasized the numbers reflect just a short period of
time.

Ron Bersani, grandfather of Melanie Powell, for whom the law was
named, said he hopes the drop shows that people are “smartening up” about
the affects of drunken driving. Powell was a 13-year-old from Marshfield
who was killed by a repeat drunken driver.

“I suspect there are a lot of people now who have been pulled over
once or twice who became very, very well aware of the new law and saw the
incredible ramifications,” Bersani told The Boston Globe.

The new law, enacted Oct. 28, mandates a year in prison for someone
who drives with a suspended license. It doubles to a year the waiting
period for second-time offenders to apply for hardship licenses to get to
work. If a driver already convicted of one drunken driving charge
declines blood-alcohol tests on a second charge, his or her license is
suspended for three years. Drivers who decline the test after fatal
accidents would lose their licenses for life, if convicted in the
accident.

And starting Tuesday, repeat offenders who want their licenses
restored will have to blow into a device that prevents the ignition from
starting if any alcohol is detected on their breath. The offenders must
use the device for two years.

Though repeat drunken driving arrests have dropped, the number of
drunken driving offenses overall has changed little in the last two
months.

Since the law took effect, 2,215 Massachusetts motorists have been
arrested on drunken driving charges. That’s down less than 2 percent from
the same period last year, according to Registry data.

Last year, 203 people were killed in alcohol-related accidents in
Massachusetts, 43 percent of all vehicle-related fatalities, according to
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

SOURCE: Boston News

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