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Connecticut DUI Triggers Massachusetts Suspension

Out of State Issues

Being a Massachusetts Resident or License holder and being charged with operating under the influence (OUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) in another state can expose the unlucky motorist to license suspension consequences in both the state where the DUI occurred and in Massachusetts. This is because the interstate compact requires motor vehicle departments across the country to notify the DMV in a driver’s home state whenever the driver is convicted of DUI or a “like offense,” meaning anything substantially similar to DUI. Notification can be accomplished directly or through the National Driver Register which is a centralized database of DUI and other related driver’s license suspensions and revocations.

To further complicate the out of state DUI situation, each state has different ways of dealing with DUI offenses. In Massachusetts, for example, first offense operating under the influence charges are dealt with pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D.  Some states mandate ignition interlock devices for first offenders, while others do not. States also treat breathalyzer refusals differently and some states have hardship licensing while others do not.

Pursuant to Conn. Gen.Stat. § 54–56g, the State of Connecticut has a pretrial DUI diversion program which is similar to the Mass. 24D program. Under the Connecticut program, a qualified DUI offender can earn a dismissal of the criminal drunk driving by successfully completing the alcohol education program. To be eligible for the alternative OUI disposition program in Massachusetts,  the defendant must admit that there were facts sufficient to support a conviction for operating under the influence. The Connecticut pretrial diversion program has no such requirement. Nevertheless, in the case of Scheffler v. Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled that a Connecticut DUI which is resolved pursuant to their alcohol diversion program is the same as a Massachusetts DUI conviction for license suspension, revocation, and hardship licensing purposes.  Scheffler tried, unsuccessfully, to convince the Board of Appeal that the Registrar of Motor Vehicles should not have added the Connecticut DUI to his Massachusetts Driving Record, upon which MassDOT relies for the imposition of license suspensions and revocations as  well as determinations regarding ignition interlock device requirements.

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