What is Melanie’s Law?

Melanie’s Law is named after a 13-year-old girl, Melanie Powell, who was killed in 2003 in a car accident caused by a drunk driver with multiple convictions. On October 28, 2005 the Massachusetts legislature enacted Melanie’s Law. It was signed into law to increase the criminal and driver’s license related penalties for DUI/OUI/DWI/Drunk Driving convictions in Massachusetts.

Melanie’s Law allows prosecutors to seek stiffer punishments for drunk drivers with repeated convictions. Prosecutors may use certified court records to prove prior drunk driving incidents, and Melanie’s Law also created new crimes under Massachusetts drunk driver laws.

New Drunk Driver Crimes Under Melanie’s Law

In addition to allowing prosecutors to rely on a drunk driver’s past driving record, new drunk driving crimes were established under Melanies’ law:

  • Loaning a car to someone who is clearly drunk;
  • Driving under the influence with a child under the age of 14;
  • Manslaughter caused by drunk driving; and
  • Stiffer penalties for drunk driving manslaughter, which now calls for a mandatory sentence of five years.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Under Melanie’s Law any driver with multiple drunk driving offenses that is eligible for a work/education or general hardship license will be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed into the automobile they own or operate. The offender has to pay for the installation of the device. The device must remain in the vehicle for the duration of the hardship and at least two from the date of return of license.

In order the start an automobile with an interlock device the operator must first provide a breath sample. A breath test sample or blood alcohol content (BAC) reading above a .02 will result in a failure and the device will prevent the car from starting.

Failure to follow the Interlock program rules results in a loss of license from ten years to life. If the device detects alcohol in access of the .02 limit the registry will hold you guilty until you have proven otherwise. You will have a chance to prove your innocence to the registry at an interlock violations hearing . If the registry finds you responsible for violating the ignition interlock device requirements then you face a loss of license for a minimum of ten years and could lose your license for the rest of your life.

Allowing someone who has an interlock license restriction to operate your car will result in severe punishments ranging from one year in jail and a $500.00 fine for first a offense and up to a $1,000.00 fine and 2 ½ years in jail for a second offense.

An Employer who hires an employee with an interlock restriction to drive a company car will face criminal punishment.

Other Provisions Under Melanie Laws

If you are found guilty of DUI/OUI/DWI while operating a vehicle with a child fourteen years old or younger Melanie’s law requires the state to charge you with both DUI and child endangerment while operating under the influence of alcohol.

If you are found guilty of DUI whiling driving with a DUI suspended license you will face an automatic one year jail sentence and loss of license for one year.

Charged With DUI/DWI Under Melanie’s Law? Call us for help.

Our knowledgeable and experienced Massachusetts DUI Defense Attorney at The Noonan Defense Firm is available to assist clients throughout all of Southeast Massachusetts.

We know that certain field sobriety tests can produce false results, and that each case needs to be investigated and considered on its own merit.  Attorney Noonan is a former assistant district attorney who knows what to expect in court and how to prepare the best legal defense possible for you.

No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away. Call the Boston Drunk Driving Lawyer to schedule a free no-obligation case review and consultation at (508) 584-6955 and you will have taken your first step to find out what your legal options are for a defense against drunk driving charges. You can also click here to use our Free Case Evaluation Form.