Judges Too Lenient in Drunk Driving Cases in Massachusetts, Says Boston Globe

March 29, 2012

According to a recent investigation conducted by The Boston Globe, nearly 90 percent of cases regarding drunk driving accidents in Massachusetts and other related convictions in the state never make it to court. What the investigation concluded is that most drivers facing drunk-driving charges plead out, pay some fines, temporarily lose a license or complete some mandatory alcohol education course. These alternate sentences apparently aren't doing the job in reducing the risks of alcohol-related accidents as they're still far too common in our state.
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Of the 10 percent or so of cases that do end up in court, most are heard by a judge instead of a jury. In these cases heard by a judge, another 80 percent of them are thrown out. As a matter of fact, our state has the highest acquittal rate in the country. On a national average, judges throw out about 50 percent of all drunk-driving cases. Not in Massachusetts. We're seeing a near 90 percent acquittal rate.

Our Massachusetts drunk driving accident lawyers understand that some drunk drivers are walking out of the courtroom free of any and all penalties. How is that supposed to teach a lesson and help to reduce the risks of drunk-driving accidents in the state? What we need is tougher laws, tougher penalties and stricter enforcement for those who are convicted with drunk-driving charges.

In the state of Massachusetts, we have Melanie's Law that offers tougher penalties for drivers who have more than one drunk-driving charge. Under Melanie's Law, certain drivers are required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. This device stops them from starting the vehicle if it senses an illegal amount of alcohol in the driver's system. While many states have this law in effect for first-time offenders, Massachusetts' law is still only handing them out to repeat offenders. What's even worse about this lack of punishment is that many of these repeat offenders aren't even getting the proper sentences and they're let off without the worry of an ignition interlock. They're let loose on our roadways with no device to help change their habits.

Current 1st Offense Massachusetts DUI Laws, according to DrivingLaws.org:

-To be charged with drunk driving, a driver under the age of 21 may not return a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading of .02 or higher. A driver who is 21 or older may not return a BAC of .08 or higher. A commercial driver isn't allowed to return a reading of .04 or higher.

-No minimum jail term required, but offenders can serve up to 30 days behind bars.

-A license suspension of 180 days for refusing to take a chemical test.

-Various fees and fines from $500 to $5,000.

-Fine: $250 Assessment.

-Fine: $50 DUI Victim Trust Fund.

-License suspension: 1 Year.

-Court assigned treatment program.

Unfortunately, these laws and sentences are merely like recommendations for judges as they're not often used to punish drunk driving offenders.

The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC is here to offer assistance to those and to the friends and family of those who have been the victim of alcohol-related car accidents in Massachusetts. If you or someone who is close to you has been injured or killed in a drunk-driving car accident, call 1-888-367-2900 to schedule a free appointment to discuss your case.

More Blog Entries:

Drunk Driving Car Accident in Massachusetts Lands 22-Year-Old in Jail, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, March 15, 2012

MBTA Curbing Alcohol Ads to Help Reduce Risks of Teen Car Accidents in Massachusetts, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, March 11, 2012