Melanie’s Law imposes enhanced penalties for those who are convicted of operating under the influence with a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle at the time of the offense. Pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24V anyone who is convicted of OUI with Child Endangerment in Massachusetts will be sentenced to an enhanced penalty of a minimum mandatory sentence of at least 90 days in a house of correction with a possible jail sentence of up to 2 ½ years incarceration. This jail sentence is required to run “from and after” or consecutively and not concurrently with any DUI sentence. It carries a minimum fine of $1,000.00. The Massachusetts Child Endangerment Law requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to impose a 1 year license suspension in addition to any suspension for operating under the influence.
Melanie’s law requires that Massachusetts OUI Child Endangerment charges cannot be “filed” or “continued without a finding” (CWOF’ed). Also, these charges will usually result in the police filing a mandatory child abuse & neglect report with the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families, which was formerly known as the Mass. Department of Social Services (DSS).
A second conviction for OUI Child Endangerment, whether the first conviction occurred in Massachusetts of elsewhere, will result in a fine from $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 and a minimum sentence of 6 months in jail with a maximum sentence of 5 years in state prison. A second or subsequent child endangerment conviction carries a 3 year Massachusetts license suspension.
The Registry “stacks” 1 year child endangerment suspensions such that they commence after the driver completes the drunk driving suspension. The legality of stacking these suspensions is questionable. If your license has been suspended due to a Child Endangerment conviction in Massachusetts, you should contact a Registry Appeals Lawyer to see if you can get your suspension time reduced.
Due to the nature of the charge, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will not issue a hardship license on a child endangerment suspension. However, in some cases, it is possible to get a hardship license by going before the Board of Appeals. Anyone with a child endangerment conviction on his or her record will have a difficult time getting a hardship license, the issuance of which is completely discretionary.