Being in a Massachusetts drunk-driving accident can result in permanent and life-altering injuries. The passage of Melanie's Law advances Massachusetts DUI laws and the criminal charges a driver will face for multiple convictions of Operating Under the Influence (OUI).
Criminal Penalties Under Melanie's Law
Melanie's Law was empowered to improve Massachusetts DUI laws by increasing the penalties and sanctions for drivers with multiple convictions of operating under the influence of toxicating substances. Melanie's Law changed the face of the Massachusetts DUI laws by:
o Penalizing drivers for operating under the influence while already on a suspended license for OUI, charging the offender with (1) OUI, and (2) OUI with a suspended license
o Establishing penalies for prohibiting or employing an unlicensed driver-including relatives, friends, or known acquaintances- to operate a motor vehicle
o Creating 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 the driver can be charged with two offsets: (1) OUI, and (2) Child Endangerment While OUI
o Establishing a criminal charge for Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle
o Increasing the length of license suspension to a minimum of 15 years
o Giving the cancellation of registration plates for consequent convictions
o Allowed a District Attorney to seek forfeiture of motor vehicles
o Eliminating temporary licenses and mandating vehicle impounding upon refusal of a chemical test
o Establishing a state-run ignition interlock system (requiring a driver to pass a breath test before starting the vehicle)
Massachusetts Drunk Driving Lawsuits
These new laws are accompanied by strictter penalties which could potentially interfere with a Massachusetts drunk-driving accident victim's ability to collect on a civil jurisdiction. This is because if the driver is forced to pay fines to the State, the State will collect their due before the victim.
Likewise, if the convicted drunk driver is forced to spend a year in jail-a mandatory minimum sentence for the new charge of OUI with a suspended license-that driver will not be able to earn income to pay your civil judgment, you should be awarded one.
If you have suffered personal injury because of another driver's negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation to pay for medical bills and other accident related expenses. Massachusetts has a statute of limitations on these types of lawsuits and your case must be filed within a prescribed amount of time.
It is critical, then, to consult with a Massachusetts personal injury attorney who has a firm jurisdiction on Massachusetts DUI laws and is experienced in these types of lawsuits.