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Ignition Interlock Requirements of Melanie’s Law: No Way Around Them

Massachusetts Registry News

Melanie’s Law, enacted in October 2005, was a comprehensive revision of the laws relating to drunk driving. Its statutory purpose was to better protect the public through stricter penalties, restrictions, and sanctions imposed on persons suspected or convicted of drunk driving. A key part of Melanie’s Law requires those convicted of 2 or more DUI offenses to use an ignition interlock device during the entire length of any hardship license and for 2 years after getting a full reinstatement. This requirement went into effect on January 1, 2006.

Both the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and the RMV Board of Appeals enforce this requirement with “zero tolerance.” There is no way to get around the interlock requirement of Melanie’s Law. If you’re legally required to have an ignition interlock device, you cannot get around this requirement. The law has been repeatedly challenged on “ex post facto” and other grounds. Courts have consistently and repeatedly upheld the ignition interlock device requirements of Melanie’s Law. If you have 2 or more DUI convictions or alcohol program assignments on your record, regardless of where or when they occurred, and you are reinstating from a DUI license suspension or coming off of a hardship license after January 1, 2006, you’re ignition interlock required.

In many cases, Mass. DUI defendants were eligible to have their hardship license hours removed on or before January 1, 2006. However, they have not met with a Mass. Registry Hearings Officer and removed the hours. Instead, they drove on restricted licenses even when the DUI suspension was over. The Registry requires these individuals to use the interlock device and the Board of Appeal routinely upholds this requirement. Fighting the interlock requirement in these situations is usually a waste of time and money.

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