Melanie’s Law allows the District Attorney’s Office to seize the vehicles of 4th or subsequent DUI offenders. Vehicles of DUI repeat offenders which are forfeited under this law can be used for law enforcement purposes or sold and the proceeds can be used by law enforcement or deposited into an Operating Under the Influence Deterrent Trust Fund. The goal of the vehicle forfeiture provision of Melanie’s Law is to enhance public safety by taking the vehicles of Massachusetts OUI repeat offenders.
The Worcester Telegram reported yesterday that police will use this law to take the vehicle of a man who claimed to have the “DUI Crown.” The alleged drunk driver bragged, albeit falsely, about holding the record for operating under the influence arrests. Although his claim proved to be untrue, police are attempting to establish that he had 3 prior DUI convictions, which would allow them to begin vehicle forfeiture proceedings.
In the news article, a spokesperson reported that a Mass. Registry hearings officer once handled a case where the driver had 14 DUI convictions.
The purpose of the vehicle forfeiture provision of Chapter 122 of the Acts of 2005 is to take the repeat drunk driver’s vehicle so that he or she cannot operate under the influence in the future. This overlooks the ability to mandate the installation of an ignition interlock device, which would allow the recidivist drunk driver to keep his or her vehicle, which physically would not start when alcohol is detected.
Another way to sanction drunk drivers is to impose an immediate threat indefinite revocation of the driver’s license. This type of suspension goes into effect immediately and its purpose is to keep someone off the road who has been deemed a danger to public safety.