Named after Melanie Powell, a 13-year old girl who was killed by a drunk driver, Melanie's Law was passed on October 28, 2005. This law increases the penalties for an operating under the influence (OUI) charge. The biggest changes made to Massachusetts's OUI law include the requirement of an ignition interlock device, a longer driver's license suspension for underage drivers, and consecutive license suspensions for an OUI conviction and breath test refusal.
Massachusetts Melanie's Law requires that any offender with two or more prior OUI convictions install an ignition interlock device in all vehicles in his or her name. Any prior offense, no matter how long ago, will result in an ignition interlock device requirement. These devices are mounted onto the dashboard of the vehicle. Before the car will start, you are required to blow into the device, which measures your breath for alcohol. If your alcohol content is above a preset level, the vehicle will not start and the RMV will be notified of this offense.
The driver's license suspension period for refusing the chemical test has been substantially increased for drivers under the age of 21 who refuse to take a breath test. For a first offense, an underage driver faces a three-year license suspension.
Rather than running concurrently, the driver's license suspension imposed by both the DMV for the breath test refusal and the criminal court for the OUI conviction will now run consecutively.
Because you will face even tougher penalties under Massachusetts Melanie's Law if convicted of OUI, you should immediately contact an experienced OUI defense lawyer to represent you during this time. The Jones & Geraghty has successfully helped many clients have their charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.