What is Melanie’s Law?

Melanie’s Law is a Massachusetts state law passed in 2005 named after Melanie Powell, a 13-year-old girl who was killed by a repeat offender drunk driver in 2003. The law was created in response to this tragic incident and aims to toughen penalties for drunk driving offenses and improve measures to prevent drunk driving accidents.

Some key provisions of Melanie’s Law include:

  1. Increased penalties for drunk driving offenses, including longer license suspensions (3 years for a second offense vs. 1 year for the first offense), mandatory alcohol education programs, and mandatory ignition interlock device installation for offenders that have had more than two convictions.
  2. Creation of the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) program, which requires convicted drunk drivers to install a breathalyzer device in their vehicles that prevents the car from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.
  3. Stricter penalties for driving with a suspended or revoked license due to a drunk driving offense.
  4. Enhanced enforcement measures, such as sobriety checkpoints and increased police powers to arrest suspected drunk drivers.

According to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was passed in 2021, all new cars sold in the United States will be required to have passive alcohol detection systems as early as 2026.┬áThese breathalyzer systems will use sensors near the steering wheel to continuously monitor the driver’s breath alcohol concentration (BAC).┬áSimilar to current interlock devices that are required for repeat offenders, the vehicle will become inoperable if a BAC above the legal limit is sensed.

Overall, Melanie’s Law was enacted to deter drunk driving, protect public safety, and hold offenders accountable for their actions. If you’re facing a second offense where Melanie’s law may apply, contact us today.

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