Melanie's Law was passed on October 28, 2005 to enhance punishments for offenders convicted of multiple OUI's in Massachusetts. Additionally, the there is a statewide mandate for an Ignition Interlock Device program. The overall objective is that by enforcing the threat of stricter penalties and administrative sanctions to deter citizens from operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
A Reasonable Cause for Arrest
The arresting officer must have reasonable cause to arrest someone who could be driving under the influence. Without clear-cut evidence, it is possible that a case may have no merit, as an officer unlawfully stopped a citizen and arrested him or her with no basis behind the accusation. On the other hand, the officer can also ask the driver to submit to a blood or breath alcohol test to determine his or level of intoxication.
Under the law, a driver can be charged for any of the following reasons:
- The driver's blood-alcohol content (BAC) tests 0.08% or above
- A driver under 21 has a BAC of 0.02%$ or above
- The driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- The driver is under the influence of both alcohol and drugs
Upon conviction, Massachusetts' Registry of Motor Vehicles may also suspend the driver's license. Even if he or she is a first-time offender, their license may be taken away for at least one year. If this is your situation, you may be able to seek some relief by applying for a hardship license. To do this, the driver must have served his or her penalties, including the minimum suspension time. Then, he or she can file to have the license reinstated.
What Are the Criminal Penalties?
Depending on the particular circumstances, the degree of severity for your penalties will vary. The fines may cost anywhere between $500 to $5, 000 and up to two and a half years in jail. The penalties will enhance if another person was hurt or killed as a result, or the driver has had prior violations previously.
These are the usual types of penalties:
- Fines, including additional fees and surcharges
- License suspension
- Installation of an Ignition interlock device (IID)
- Jail or incarceration
- Mandatory community service hours
If you have been arrested for operating a vehicle while under the influence, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel. At Flanagan & Associates, our Quincy criminal defense attorneys can investigate your case to determine if there were weaknesses in the evidence. We can use the information we gather to reduce the severity or help wipe away the charges entirely.