Mass. Breathalyzer Refusals & the Ignition Interlock Restriction

I received the following inquiry from a prospective client:

I was found not guilty for an OUI but lost my license for failure to take the breath test, because of a previous OUI conviction. I am being told that I have to now install a ignition interlock device. I would like to avoid this for financial reasons. My license is still suspended. I would like to attempt to get it back as soon as possible, but I feel like I need representation.

Since others may find themselves in the same situation, I thought I would post my legal analysis of the situation.

G.L. c. 90 § 24½, the  Massachusetts Ignition Interlock Device Law applies only to those whose licenses have been suspended “…by reason of: an assignment to an alcohol or controlled substance education, treatment or rehabilitation program; or a conviction for violating paragraph (a) of subdivision (1) of section 24…”

In this case, the individual’s license was not suspended for an OUI conviction, as he was found not guilty of OUI. The only suspension which was imposed was for his refusal to take a breathalyzer. As such, so long as his license was reinstated on or after January 1, 2006, the effective date of the interlock requirement of Melanie’s law, his license should not be ignition interlock restricted.

Only license suspensions imposed “by reason of an assignment to an alcohol or controlled substance education, treatment or rehabilitation program…” or other OUI related suspensions trigger the mandatory ignition interlock device license restriction. If the Legislature intended for chemical test refusal (CTR) suspensions to trigger the ignition interlock requirement, it would have included them in G.L. c. 90 § 24 ½; the Legislature has failed to do so.