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Melanie’s Law and Stricter Drunk Driving Penalties in Massachusetts

Nationwide, drunk driving awareness campaigns, safety experts and legislators have urged for stricter drunk driving penalties. Now advocates are urging Massachusetts lawmakers to pass a bill that would expand the requirement for ignition interlock devices to include both repeat offenders as well as first time drunk drivers. Advocates for the expansion of Melanie’s Law purpose that the new requirement would prevent certain drivers from putting other motorists and passengers at risk. Ultimately, expanding the law could prevent accidents and save lives.

Drunk driving accidents continue to pose a threat to other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and passengers. Our Massachusetts drunk driving accident attorneys are experienced with the widespread impact of drunk driving cases. We are also dedicated to staying abreast of current developments in anti-drunk driving campaigns and legislation that aims to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents on the roads.

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One of the primary advocates for the law was a man whose granddaughter was killed by a drunk driver. Advocates are seeking expansion of a 2006 law, known as “Melanie’s Law” which was named after the victim, Melanie Powell. Melanie’s grandfather testified that Massachusetts needs to take additional and aggressive steps to prevent future drunk driving fatalities. The proposal to require first time offenders to use an ignition interlock device was one of several issues involving highway safety.

Melanie Powell was only 13-years-old when she was struck and killed by a drunk driver in 2003. Her grandfather believes that the only way to prevent drunk drivers is to require ignition interlock devices for anyone who has been convicted of drunk driving. Currently the law only requires that the devices be installed for second time or other repeat offenders who are looking to reinstate their licenses.

Interlock ignition devices are one effective way to prevent drunk drivers. They disable a motor vehicle’s ignition if the driver has a minimal blood-alcohol content. Like most solutions, the devices do have their shortcomings. They cannot be installed on every vehicle that may be driven by a defendant and the devices are extremely costly, a burden that taxpayers may not want to carry. According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, there are 5,923 devices installed in vehicles statewide. Massachusetts is one of eight states that require ignition interlocks after a second conviction.

Opponents of the bill argue that the devices do not distinguish between a driver that is one sip over the limit and those who are several times over the limit. They also argue that the state does not have the money to support devices for first-time convictions. In addition to requiring interlock ignition devices, the legislation would also expand jurisdictional rights to allow communities throughout the commonwealth to arrest suspected drunk drivers.

While stricter drunk driving laws are one way to reduce the number of accidents, innocent victims will continue to suffer from the negligence and recklessness of drunk driving. Our firm is dedicated to the fight against drunk driving. We will take a strategic approach to review drunk driving cases and will aggressively pursue the rights of victims and their families.

If you or a loved one was involved in a drunk driving accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

More Blog Entries:

NFL Recruits MADD to Focus on Drunk Driving
, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, September 10, 2013
Boston’s Drunk Driving Arrests on Sharp Decline
, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, September 3, 2013