Quincy OUI Lawyer

Melanie's Law

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not take the crime of operating a vehicle while under the influence ( OUI) of drugs or alcohol lightly. In October 2008, the state took a stronger stance against OUI offenders by passing Melanie's Law, which enhances the penalties and administrative sanctions imposed on OUI offenders. Under the law, those accused of driving while impaired can face separate charges in addition to their basic OUI charges, which can increase the penalties a suspected OUI offender could suffer. The law also lays out regulations for an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) program and defines various sanctions for repeat offenders.

It is important for drivers in Massachusetts to be fully aware of the new regulations set by this law. If they are facing a possible conviction for OUI-related offenses, they should immediately contact a skilled attorney who can help them understand how the law works and decide to best strategies for defending themselves. Doing so could potentially help them avoid years of prison, up to thousands of dollars in fines, long lengthy license revocations and more.

Interlock Ignition Device (IID) Program

One of the main features of Melanie's Law is the creation of a state-run program for managing the use and enforcement of ignition interlock devices for OUI offenders. The law requires second-time and subsequent OUI offenders to install these devices in their vehicles when they receive hardship licenses—which gives them limited driving privileges when driving would normally be fully prohibited—and when they have their driver's licenses reinstated.

When using this device, a driver will have to blow into the device, which will provide a breath test result that shows whether or not the driver has alcohol in his or her system. If the device detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or more, the vehicle will not start.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) lays out the requirements of the program. If an OUI offender is using the device after having his or her license reinstated, he or she will have to keep it installed in the car for two years. If a driver is required to use an ignition interlock device while having a hardship license, he or she will still have to use the device for two years after receiving full license reinstatement. The failure to meet the terms of the program can result in the driver's licensed being revoked for anywhere from 10 years to life. It is important that you seek out a qualified Weymouth OUI attorney in an effort to protect yourself from a detrimental conviction.

Additional OUI-Related Charges

Convictions for OUI charges by themselves can already lead to serious negative consequences. Melanie's Law, however, has created new offenses that a suspected OUI offender can be charged with in addition to the basic OUI offense. With the addition of these charges, drivers can be subject to additional jail time, prison time, fines and other penalties. Below is a review of some of these added offenses, as outlined by the RMV.

Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol/ Operating After Suspension of Drunk Driving:

  • Target: Anyone under driving under the influence of alcohol when license was already suspended for OUI
  • Penalty: Mandatory jail sentence of at least 1 year; up to 2 ½ years in prison; fine of $2,500 to $10,000
  • License: 1 year suspension

Employing or Allowing an Unlicensed Operator to Operate a Motor Vehicle:

  • Target: Anyone employing a person with a suspended license to operate a motor vehicle
  • Penalty: For 1 st offense, fine up to $500/ For 2 nd offense, imprisonment for up to 1 year and/or fine up to $1,000
  • License: Up to 1 year suspension of license and/or registration
  • Target: Anyone allowing an unlicensed person to operate his or her vehicle
  • Penalty: For 1 st offense, imprisonment for 1 year; fine up to $500/ For 2 nd offense, imprisonment for 2 ½ years and/or fine up to $1,000
  • License: Up to 1 year suspension of license and/or registration
  • Target: Anyone allowing a person restricted under the ignition interlock program to operate a vehicle not equipped with the device
  • Penalty: For 1 st offense, imprisonment for 1 year; fine up to $500/ For 2 nd offense, imprisonment up to 2 ½ years and/or fine up to $1,000
  • License: Up to 1 year suspension of license and/or registration

Child Endangerment While Operating a Motor Vehicle Under Influence of Alcohol:

  • Target: Anyone driving drunk while child age 14 or younger is in the vehicle
  • Penalty: For 1 st offense, imprisonment for 90 days to 2 ½ years; fine of $1,000 to $5,000/ For 2 nd offense, 6 months to 2 ½ years in house of correction and fine of $5,000-$10,000; or imprisonment for 3 to 5 years
  • License: For 1 st offense, 1 year suspension/ For 2 nd offense, 3 year suspension

Additional Restrictions

Melanie's Law has also given the state of Massachusetts the right to cancel the registration plates (during driver's license suspension) of anyone who is convicted of three or more alcohol-related OUI offenses. It has increased license suspension periods for drivers who refuse to take chemical tests, such as breath or blood tests, when they are suspected of OUI, and it has eliminated the 15-day temporary licenses that were formerly available in this type of situation. It has established that a district attorney can request vehicle forfeitures—or the seizure of vehicles—for individuals convicted of four or more alcohol-related OUI offenses.

Charged in Hingham? We Can Help You

At my firm, Flanagan & Associates I can help you learn how your case might be affected by Melanie's Law. As a Quincy OUI attorney experienced in these cases, I can provide you with personalized solutions and the high-quality representation you deserve. I serve clients located in Quincy, Weymouth and the greater South Shore area. Contact my office today so we can move forward with your case.

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