Mass. Appeals Court Rules on Ignition Interlock Device Requirement

In the case of Commonwealth v. Sean M. Pettit, the Massachusetts Appeals Court announced that a person who is required to use an ignition interlock device in accordance with Melanie’s Law cannot be convicted of operating a motor vehicle without the ignition interlock device unless the driver’s license is active when he or she is caught driving without the IID.

On August 15, 1996, Pettit was convicted of a first offense DUI, in violation of G.L. c. 90, § 24. On December 9, 1999, he was convicted of a 2nd offense DUI. As a result of his two drunk driving convictions, his driver’s license was revoked on December 16, 1999. On May 24, 2007, well after the enactment of Melanie’s Law, Pettit reinstated his driver’s license with the ignition interlock device restriction. However, Pettit removed the ignition interlock device from his vehicle and his license was revoked due to the removal of the IID.

On July 28, 2009, a police officer caught Pettit driving on a revoked license without an ignition interlock device, allegedly in violation of G.L. c. 90, § 24S. His lawyer correctly claimed that the conviction was invalid because Petitt was operating on a revoked and not a restricted license at the time of his arrest. The Mass. Appeals Court ruled that a driver’s license cannot be revoked and restricted at the same time.