Burke Levy, P.C.

Bill would change punishment for first-time OUI offenders

Operating-under-the-influence convictions can have serious implications. Currently, Massachusetts state law requires that people with at least two previous OUI convictions install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. These devices act as Breathalyzers and prevent drivers from turning on their vehicle if any alcohol is detected. If a new bill passes, first-time OUI offenders would have to install IIDs on their cars.

Currently, Massachusetts is one of only two states that does not require first-time offenders to install IIDs. Advocates for the new bill claim that not requiring an IID for a drunk driving arrest is not smart and gives individuals the opportunity to re-offend before punishing them. Mothers Against Drunk Driving -- an advocacy group -- claims that these devices prevented approximately 38,000 Massachusetts drivers from driving while intoxicated over a 10-year period. Others point out that IIDs also give drunk driving offenders the ability to continue driving to and from work or to pick up their children from school.

Not everyone is in favor of this bill, though. Opponents of the bill believe that requiring first-time offenders to install an IID would simply be adding another layer of unnecessary punishment. Those convicted of drunk driving typically already face fairly severe consequences.

Currently, this is still just a bill. Until it is passed and signed into law, there will not be any changes to how OUI charges are handled in Massachusetts. However, even without requiring first-time offenders to use an IID, these are still serious charges that often require swift action to minimize the impact on their lives.

Source: CBS Boston, "New Push For Ignition Interlock Law For First-Time Drunk Drivers", Breana Pitts, Dec. 1, 2017

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