Legal Resources for OUI/DUI Law

Melanie’s Law

OUI/DUI Law can be very strict in Massachusetts. One example of this, “Melanie’s Law,” was signed into law on October 28, 2005. Its purpose is to enhance the penalties and administrative sanctions for Operating Under the Influence (OUI) offenders in Massachusetts. The information below highlights the new penalties under the law and those sections that pertain to RMV suspensions.

Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol While Already Suspended for OUI

Melanie’s Law establishes a new offense of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol and Operating After Suspension for Drunk Driving. This means that a driver, who was driving under the influence of alcohol while his/her license was already suspended for OUI, can be charged with two crimes at once: 1.) OUI and 2.) OUI with a suspended license. This additional offense carries a minimum of a 1-year mandatory jail sentence.

New Law Penalty Loss of License
OUI while operating after a suspension for a previous OUI offense 1-year minimum mandatory sentence – 2 1⁄2 years imprisonment in a house of correction and a fine of $2,500 – $10,000. 1 year license suspension

Employing or Allowing an Unlicensed Operator to Operate a Motor Vehicle

Melanie’s Law has defined the penalties for allowing or employing an unlicensed driver (including relatives, friends, or known acquaintances) to operate a Motor Vehicle.

New Law Penalty Loss Of License
No person shall employ an individual with a suspended license as a motor vehicle operator 1st Offense = up to a $500 fine
2nd Offense = up to 1 year imprisonment in a house of correction and/or a fine up to $1000
License and/or registration suspension up to 1 year
No person shall allow a vehicle owned by him/her or under his/her control to be operated by an unlicensed person 1st Offense = 1 year imprisonment in a house of correction and a fine of not more than $500
2nd Offense = 2 1⁄2 years imprisonment in a house of correction and/or a fine of up to $1000
License and/or registration suspension up to 1 year
No person shall allow an individual with an Ignition Interlock restriction to operate a vehicle not equipped with the device 1st Offense = 1 year imprisonment in a house of correction and a fine of up to $500
2nd Offense = up to 2 1⁄2 years imprisonment in a house of correction and/or a fine of up to $1000
License and/or registration suspension up to 1 year

 

Child Endangerment While Operating a Motor Vehicle Under Influence of Alcohol

Melanie’s Law creates a new crime of Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol With a Child 14 Years of Age or Younger in the Vehicle. This means that a driver can be charged with two crimes at once: 1.) OUI and 2.) Child Endangerment While OUI.

New Law Penalty Loss of License
Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol with a child 14 years of age or younger in the vehicle 1st Offense = 90 days – 2 1⁄2 years imprisonment in a house of correction, and a $1,000-$5,000 fine.2nd Offense = 6 months – 2 1⁄2 years in a house of correction and a fine of $5000 – $10,000, or 3-5 years in a state prison 1st Offense = 1 year license suspension2nd Offense = 3 year license suspension

Registration Cancellation

Melanie’s Law allows the Registry to cancel the registration plates of anyone convicted of a 3rd or subsequent alcohol-related driving offense for the duration of the suspension period.

Vehicle Forfeiture

Melanie’s Law allows a District Attorney to seek forfeiture of a motor vehicle for any defendant convicted of a 4th or subsequent alcohol-related driving offense.

Chemical Test Refusal or Failure

Melanie’s Law eliminates the allowance of a 15-day temporary license. In addition, the operator’s vehicle will be impounded for 12 hours.

Driver 21 or Older No Prior OUIs1 Prior OUI2 Prior OUIs

3 or more Prior OUIs

 

180 days3 years5 years

Lifetime

Driver 18-21 No Prior OUIs1 Prior OUI2 Prior OUIs

3 or more Prior OUIs

 

3 years + 180 days3 years + 180 days5 years + 180 days

Lifetime

Driver Under 18 years old No Prior OUIs1 Prior OUI2 Prior OUIs

3 or more Prior OUIs

 

3 years + 1 year3 years + 1 year5 years + 1 year

Lifetime

 

Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle

Melanie’s Law creates a new crime of Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle. Any driver who commits manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall be convicted of Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle.

New Law Penalty Loss of License
Manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol or drugs 5 year minimum mandatory sentence – 20 years imprisonment in state prison and a fine of not more than $25,000 15 years – lifetime license suspension

 

Motor Vehicle Homicide

Melanie’s Law increases the length of license suspension from 10 years to a minimum of 15 years for a conviction of Motor Vehicle Homicide.

 

Ignition Interlock Devices

Starting January 1, 2006, any driver with a second or subsequent operating under the influence offense who is eligible for a hardship license or for license reinstatement will be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device attached to any vehicle the driver owns, leases, or operates (including an employer’s vehicle) at the driver’s expense. The goal of this device is to protect both the public and the driver from continued unlawful operation of a motor vehicle. Massachusetts now joins a majority of states in utilizing this technology.

A driver with a hardship license must use the device for the entire life of the hardship license and for two additional years after the license has been reinstated.

If a driver with two or more OUI offenses is eligible for license reinstatement, the Ignition Interlock Device will be required for two years. This two-year period is mandatory (even if the device was used with a hardship license).

Installation of the Ignition Interlock Device is a mandatory condition of the issuance of a hardship license or of license reinstatement.

Once the device is installed, a driver will be required to pass a breath test before starting the vehicle. Any blood alcohol reading of greater than .02 will prevent the vehicle from starting. Every 30 days, the driver must return to the vendor, who will upload and transfer data from the device to the RMV.

Once the device is installed, a driver will be required to pass a breath test before starting the vehicle. Any blood alcohol reading of greater than .02 will prevent the vehicle from starting. Every 30 days, the driver must return to the vendor, who will upload and transfer data from the device to the RMV.

Information provided by Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles