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Massachusetts DUI Laws

Contact Attorney Jason Chan

Attorney Jason Chan

244 Brighton Avenue, Suite 105
Allston MA 02134


Phone: 781-343-1DUI (781-343-1384)
Fax: (617) 254-8001

Massachusetts DUI laws have gotten a lot stricter under the Melanie laws.  In 2006, the Massachusetts legislature decided to enact the Melanie laws. The laws were named after Melanie Powell then a 13 year old girl that was killed by a repeat DUI offender on her way to get ice cream. The Melanie Powell case has significantly changed the landscape of Massachusetts DUI laws. 

MA DUI Law

Under the new rules, three major things happened to MassachusettsDUI laws. First, Melanie’s Law increased the penalties for Massachusetts DUI offenders, especially for repeat offenders. The second thing that Melanie ‘s law did was that it was add six new categories of offenses to Massachusetts DUI laws. The new categories included:

  1. Employing a person with a suspended or is unlicensed to operate a motor vehicle

  2. Allow a suspended or unlicensed person to operate a motor vehicle

  3. Child endangerment during an DUI

  4. Being charged with a DUI while your license is suspended for a DUI

  5. Manslaughter by motor vehicle

  6. Larceny of registration plate

  7. Ignition interlock device offense, and

  8. Motor vehicle homicide

Prior to the Melanie’s laws a defendant was allowed to get a temporary license while the DUI case was pending. Melanie’s law has eliminated the 15 day temporary license.  Under the new laws, if you are convicted of a 3rd offense DUI or any offense after your 3rd offense, the registry is allowed to cancel your registration and plates. Even worse if you are convicted of a 4th offense DUI, the government or the prosecutor is allowed to seek the forfeiture of your car.  

Some of the new offenses that were created out of Melanie’s laws were unexpected. One of these laws was the charge of employing a person that is unlicensed or has a license that is suspended to operate a motor vehicle. The reason why this charge was unexpected is that it doesn’t have anything to do with DUIs at all. Under this charge, the employer can be charged with a criminal offense if he is allowing a person that is unlicensed or has a license that is suspended drive. The operator doesn’t actually have to be drunk or even have been drinking. On a first offense an employer can face up to a $500 fine. If an employer is a repeat offender, the employer could face up to 1 year in the house of corrections or a $1,000 fine. The employer can also have his or her license to be suspended for up to 1 year.

The new laws don’t just punish employers who allow a person that has a suspended license or unlicensed person to drive, but also punishes any person that allows a person that has a suspended license or is unlicensed to drive. If a person who is not an employer allows a person that is unlicensed or has a suspended license drive his or her car, then the person can face some serious penalties.  For a first offense, the person could face up to 1 year in the house of corrections or a $500 fine. Now, once again the person who is driving the car doesn’t actually have to be drunk, drinking, or even charged with a DUI. 

The new laws of punishing employers or anyone for allowing an unlicensed person or a person with a suspended license drive his or her car seems to be an odd creation out of the Melanie laws. The reason is that these are not alcohol related offenses. On the other hand, these laws show that Massachusetts are attempting to make the streets safer from all violators. Not only does Massachusetts have DUI laws that go after the offenders, but also those individuals that allow the offenders to drive their car. 


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