Comprehensive Drunk Driving Law

Massachusetts Toughens OUI Penalties

Boston, MA–A new, comprehensive drunk driving law that will make
punishment for repeat offenders of drunk driving offenses took effect on
October 28, 2005. State Rep. William C. Galvin, D-Canton, stated, “Not
only do these laws work to punish those who are guilty of repeat drunk
driving offenses but they also work as a deterrent measure.”

The new law, called “Melanie’s Law” after a young girl who was killed
in a drunk driving accident, includes numerous provisions. A new offense
charges drunken drivers for operating a vehicle with a child under the
age of 14. Anyone with a blood alcohol
level
of .15 or higher must attend an alcohol assessment program. The
penalties for knowingly allowing someone to use an automobile, though he
or she has a suspended license from drunk driving, have increased to a
fine of $500 for the first offense, and a fine of $1,000 and also
possibly one year in jail for the second offense.

Mandatory sentences have become stricter. The mandatory sentence for a
drunk driver who convicts manslaughter is now doubled. A new mandatory
sentence of one year in prison will be applied to those driving under the
influence with a suspended license.

Prosecutors can use original court papers and certified information of
a defendant’s prior life history from certain records for a previous OUI.
These documents will serve as complete evidence, and no testimony or
additional evidence will be necessary to prove authenticity.

Repeat offenders will need to operate cars with ignition interlock
devices that force them to measure their blood alcohol level before being
able to turn on the ignition. Tampering with the device or driving a car
without the interlock devices will serve time in prison.

License suspension procedures will be more severe with first offenders
having suspended licenses for 15 years, up from 10 years. Second-time
offenders of OUI Motor Vehicle Homicide will have their licenses
suspended for life. Anyone refusing to take a Breathalyzer test will have his or
her license suspended for 180 days, but if an accident results in death
or injury of another person and the driver refuses the Breathalyzer test,
a 10-year suspension will result. Refusal with previous OUI violations or
convictions will result in license suspension, and those with three
previous violations will have lifetime license suspension. Those who
refuse the Breathalyzer test will also have their cars impounded for 24
hours.

November 18, 2005

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