In an effort to increase Massachusetts DUI conviction rates, Melanie’s Law imposes stiff license suspensions for those who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer, after being arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol. DUI First offenders who refuse receive 6 month suspensions, the Registry will suspend DUI 2nd offenders and those under 21 for 3 years, and the Mass. RMV will suspend DUI 3rd offenders for 5 years, in addition to any license suspension associated with an underlying DUI conviction. In Massachusetts DUI 4th offenders who refuse the breathalyzer are revoked for life with no possibility of getting a hardship license.
Refusing the breathalyzer is a double-edged sword. A refusal denies the Commonwealth key evidence, the DUI defendant’s blood alcohol reading. Massachusetts DUI lawyers can often use this lack of evidence to get a not guilty or dismissal of the drunk driving charges. On the other hand, a Massachusetts Chemical Test Refusal will result in the above-listed license suspensions.
Massachusetts drivers should know that a high blood alcohol reading can have other consequences, in addition to increasing the chances of being convicted of driving under the influence. Blood Alcohol Content or (BAC) is contained in police reports and electronically transmitted to the Mass RMV through the Draeger Alcotest Breathalyzers which all Massachusetts Police Departments use. These readings come up in Hardship License hearings before the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance and they can make getting a work or hardship license more difficult. Drivers who have taken the breathalyzer and registered “high” readings should be mindful of this and be able to explain, to the Board of Appeal, a high breath or blood alcohol reading. Many hardship license applicants who come before the Board without lawyers are surprised when the Registry informs the Board of the driver’s BAC.
It doesn’t take much alcohol to be over the legal limit of .08 in Massachusetts. Many DUI clients were surprised at their alcohol readings, having only consumed what they believed to be a small or moderate amount of alcohol.