The Souza SJC Decision & Melanie’s Law

souza_registrar_breathalzyer_refusalMy office has been inundated by inquiries regarding the case of Souza v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles. I am very familiar with this case, as I have been fighting the Registry on this issue for years and I wrote the amicus brief in the Souza case. In Souza, the SJC adopted the legal arguments which I raised in the brief.

Souza only applies to chemical test refusal suspensions. This means that if you are a second offender who took a breath test in connection with your second offense DUI, Souza does nothing for you. The misconceptions regarding the impact of the Souza decision are likely the product of sensationalist reporting by the media and wishful thinking on the part of those serving DUI suspensions.

The Souza decision does not mean that your first offense DUI never happened. It only means that if a DUI was resolved by an admission to sufficient facts and a CWOF, it should not count against you in the event that you are arrested for OUI again and you refuse a breath test. Thus, it only applies to you if you have a recent chemical test refusal suspension.

If you have any questions as to whether Souza applies to you, please call my office for a free consultation and review of your case. Do not waste your time and the Registry’s time by appealing a suspension when Souza does not apply. The decision has been misunderstood by many, including some lawyers who have been sending their clients to the Registry only to find out that the SJC’s decision has no applicability to their situation.

On the other hand, if you are a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th offender and you refused the breath test with respect to your most recent DUI arrest, I can probably reduce your breathalyzer refusal suspension. This is important because the Registry runs DUI suspensions first. These are followed by OUI suspensions. For example, if you have a 3 year breathalyzer refusal suspension and 2 year DUI suspension, the breathalyzer refusal suspension will run first. If it is reduced to from 3 years to 180 days, your total suspension time can be reduced from 5 years to 2 ½ years.

Contact me with any questions regarding Melanie’s Law and how the Souza SJC decision may help you get your license reinstated or reduce your waiting time before applying for a 12 hour hardship license.

There is legislation which is scheduled to be debated on Wednesday, May 23rd in the Senate which would make CWOFs count towards breathalyzer refusal suspensions. This new law is likely to pass in the very near future.