Massachusetts Legislature Closes Melanie’s Law “Loophole”

A few months ago I wrote about a decision the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued which rejected the Registry of Motor Vehicle’s definition of “conviction” with respect to Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws, as it applied to OUI / DUI convictions and Breathalyzer Test Refusals. Following that decision by the court, the Massachusetts Legislature has now closed that ‘loophole’.

By way of background, in May 2012, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that, under the law at the time, a “conviction” meant only dispositions of criminal charged where an actual determination of guilt was imposed.

The issue arose following the suspension of a person’s driver’s license for 3 years by the Registry of Motor Vehicles because he had previously been convicted of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol. The driver appealed the 3 year suspension, claiming that his license should only have been suspended for 180 days because in his previous case was Continued Without a Finding – he argued that this was not the equivalent of a ‘conviction’ or guilty finding. He pointed out that, in obtaining a Continuance Without a Finding, he only admitted to ‘sufficient facts for a finding of guilty’, which is not the same as pleading guilty. The Massachusetts Supreme Court agreed, and stated that “If the legislature, in enacting Melanie’s Law, had wanted to include an admission to sufficient facts in the definition of ‘convicted’, it could have done so explicitly.”

Following the court’s ruling, the Massachusetts legislature closed this ‘loophole’ and amended the statute, which now does consider Continuances Without a Finding and Breathalyzer Test refusals as ‘convictions’ for purposes of the Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws.

Boston Drunk Driving Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7 for consultation for all Massachusetts OUI / DUI Charges, including Massachusetts Criminal Appeals.

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