Many people who have had their licenses suspended or revoked for DUI, which is also known as operating under the influence or “drunk driving,” or numerous other offenses such as drug convictions, driving with a suspended license, or being a habitual traffic offender, mistakenly believe that their license suspensions are unconstitutional because they constitute “double jeopardy.”
The constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy protects a criminal defendant against a second prosecution for the same crime after acquittal or conviction. It also protects criminal defendants from suffering “multiple punishments for the same offense.” However, Massachusetts courts have repeatedly stated, in multiple cases, that license suspensions are remedial and not punitive. They are designed to promote public safety and not to punish drivers. Therefore, they do not violate the constitutional prohibition against “double jeopardy,” which applies only when the law at issue is criminal or punitive in nature. License suspensions are civil and not punitive.
Because of the non-punitive nature of Melanie’s Law and the ignition interlock and DUI license suspensions associated with it, appeals characterizing these measures as constituting “double jeopardy” are certain to fail, as all other similar appears have. Pursuing a license suspension or ignition interlock appeal on the basis of “double jeopardy” is simply a waste of time and money. Instead of wasting time and money by trying to claim that your suspension is unconstitutional, a good Registry or DUI Lawyer should review your case to see if there are any other, more viable, grounds for appeal. Under the right circumstances, license suspensions can be dramatically reduced or even eliminated in some cases.