Massachusetts Wants to Harden DUI Charges

Massachusetts Wants to Harden DUI Charges

State authorities want to implement more severe charges against driving under influence; it will be more difficult to second-time offenders to go back on the road. A bill introduced by Governor Charlie Baker would give the police more power to keep in prison drunk drivers who were caught multiple times driving under influence without a right to bail.

This bill was proposed in response to a decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which states that judges cannot keep drunk drivers in prison without bail anymore because the law content is dubious.

The bill would change a clause in the law to make it clear that judges could keep someone in prison without bail if they are accused of a third or further offense.

The Supreme Judicial Court decided, in July, that according to the current law a defendant must be convicted – not imprisoned – a third time to be kept in jail without bail.  

Efforts to make this law more severe for drunk driving can also happen when the State faces a scandal in the Office of Alcohol Test, which is responsible to keep the Breath Alcohol Testers used by the police in perfect operating conditions.  

Melissa O’Meara, who was the director of the Office of Alcohol Test, was fired last week after state investigators found out that some workers under her direction hid proofs from lawyers in thousands of cases of driving under the influence since 2011.

The investigation concluded that the crime lab routinely kept documents away from defense lawyers during judicial procedures placing in check the trust of the test results due to a nonwritten conduct of keeping breathalyzer results away from anybody that needed to request them.  

Among other proposals involving DUI, there is one to double the fines and convicting second offenders to 2 ½ to 5 years in prison.

Another bill would increase the sentence for homicide while driving from 2 ½ to 15 years of imprisonment. It would also increase the fines to US$10,000 to drunk drivers for killing for the second time while driving.

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