If you are getting your Massachusetts driver’s license back with 2 DUIs on your record, you will be required to get an interlock device.
It does not matter that your prior offense was 10 or even 30 years ago.
It does not matter if BOTH your offenses took place in the 1980s, and you haven’t had a license since then.
It doesn’t matter if the court has treated your second offense as a first offense via a 24D Disposition.
You are stuck, and the Mass Registry of Motor Vehicles won’t budge on this issue, in spite of the fact that it is unfair, and is a complete misinterpretation of what the law actually intended.
Melanie’s Law and Interlock Background
Melanie’s Law was passed in 2005 and required that every convicted multiple offender install an ignition interlock device in their car, when it was time to get their driver’s license reinstated. None of the lawmakers expected or intended, and certainly no defense attorney’s anticipated, that the RMV applied this retroactively. The Registry’s position has been that anyone that has ever had two OUI convictions – it doesn’t matter if one was from 1975 and one was from 1980 – has to have this device in their vehicle.
Because the interlock requirement is triggered at the time of license reinstatement, not actually when the OUI charges took place, this requirement blindsides people who hadn’t driven in a long time. They are burdened with this crazy and expensive ($200 installation plus $85/month operation and maintenance) contraption that makes no sense for given their situation.
I regularly get calls all the time from people that haven’t had a drink in 10-15 years and this state is forcing them to install this thing in their car. They logically assume this is a mistake that can be fixed, but that is not the case. I’ve had to break bad news to people many times about how crazy this rule is, for example:
- We’ve had clients who were on Social Security Disability and basically had to tell that they were never going to get a license, since they were on a small fixed income, and could never afford the extra expense of the interlock device.
- I have clients who have had to rent cars as part of their job, and now can’t do that job.
- I get calls from people who say “I never even told my wife about this because it was a lifetime ago and you know now I have to tell them about this”.
- I get calls from Real Estate Agents or other people who call and say that they were going to have clients in their car, and we are going to have a very difficult time explaining this to clients and it was going to hurt their business.
- I have clients who have company cars and they have lost their jobs because their boss was just not going to install an IID in their car.
Every year, it seems like the Mass State Legislature proposes a new law that would make an ignition interlock device mandatory for first offenses. Because of my experience with the Registry in how they’ve made broad and sweeping interpretations of the requirement, I would be extremely concerned about what could be added to this bill in the end.
I a very concerned as to how it would be implemented and how the registry would interpret it. I’m also pretty sure that one unintended effect of making the IID mandatory for first offense would be you would have a lot more people fighting first offenses, taking them to trial because they just don’t want to have this interlock installed in their car for business reasons.
If a 1st offense OUI conviction law requiring IIDs is passed in Massachusetts, I hope the legislature will be thorough and decent enough to carve out exceptions for people who clearly aren’t real public safety risk, and could be financially ruined by a minor, one-time incident, where no one got hurt.
Unfortunately, from my experience I am very skeptical that’s the way it would play out.