Melanie's Law was enacted to enhance the penalties and administrative sanctions for Operating Under the Influence (OUI, also known as DUI or DWI) offenders in Massachusetts. Melanies Law required the creation of a state run ignition interlock program. Under Melanie's law, the Mass. Registry requires multiple OUI, DUI, DWI offenders to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their vehicle upon issuance of a hardship license or at full license reinstatement. Upon installation of an IID a multiple offender's license is reinstated with a Z restriction. The Z restriction stands for "Massachusetts Zero tolerance" for drunk driving and notifies law enforcement officials that individuals with this restriction may only operate a vehicle with an Ignition Interlock Device installed. Private Ignition Interlock companies install and maintain IID devices throughout the Commonwealth at 30 locations.
Any driver with a 2nd or subsequent operating under the
influence (drunk driving) 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.
A driver (OUI/DWI/DUI offender) with a
Massachusetts 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 drunk driving (OUI,DWI,/DUI) 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).
A driver who has received a suspension of 5 years or longer for a chemical test refusal will be
required to have a device for the balance of the chemical test refusal suspension period if a court
orders an early reinstatement.
For licenses revoked for drunk driving (OUI), 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.
Click here for more information on Ignition Interlock Devices.
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 (OUI with a suspended license) carries a minimum of a 1-year mandatory jail sentence.
Melanie’s Law has re-defined the penalties for allowing or employing an unlicensed driver
(including relatives, friends, or known acquaintances) to operate a Motor Vehicle and created a new crime of allowing an individual
with an Ignition Interlock restriction
to operate a vehicle not equipped
with the device.
Melanies Law also 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/DWI (Operating Under the Influence / Driving While Intoxicated).
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.
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.
Melanie’s Law eliminates the allowance of a 15-day temporary license. Now, the OUI offender's license will be immediately suspended upon written notice from a police officer immediately following the drunk driving arrest. In addition, the
operator’s vehicle may be impounded for 12 hours.
The license suspension periods for refusing a chemical test (i.e. breath test or breathalyzer) have increased as well. The refusal penalties are:
4180 days for 1st offense Breath Test Refusal
43 year suspension for 2nd offense OUI Breath Test Refusal
45 year suspension for 3rd offense OUI Breath Test Refusal
4Lifetime Loss of License for 4th offense OUI Breath Test Refusal
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.
Click here for more information re: Massachusetts DUI Laws.
It is important to note that even with the harsh consequences of Melanie's Law,
hardship licenses can still be issued.