In Massachusetts, Melanie’s Law increases the penalties for more than just drunk driving. Under Melanie’s Law, it is a crime to knowingly employ or allow someone who has a suspended or revoked driver’s license to drive your vehicle, regardless of why their license is suspended. A conviction of allowing an improper person to operate can result in the suspension of your own driver’s license or motor vehicle registration. Melanie’s law also makes it a crime for the owner of a motor vehicle to knowingly permit it operated by a person who was unlicensed.
Because of this law, everyone should think twice before lending their vehicle to someone. This law was enacted to prevent individuals whose licenses are suspended or revoked for drunk driving, being a habitual traffic offender, immediate threat, 7 surchargeable events, drug convictions, or any one of approximately 65 license suspension reasons from being able to borrow a friend of family member’s vehicle. The law was also designed to prevent unlicensed individuals from borrowing vehicles and to prevent employers from hiring individuals with suspended or revoked licenses for positions which require driving a company-owned vehicle.
Prior to the enactment of Melanie’s Law, allowing an improper person to operate was a civil motor vehicle infraction which only resulted in the imposition of a fine. Now, it is a criminal offense which carries a sentence of up to one year in the house of correction and not more than $500 fine or a $1,000.00 fine for employers.
Melanie’s Law also makes it a crime for a motor vehicle owner or person in control of a motor vehicle, which was not equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device, to knowingly allow it to be operated by a person who has an ignition interlock restricted license. This is crime carries a sentence of up to one year in the house of correction and a fine of up to $500. Also, the Registry may suspend the registration of the motor vehicle improperly driven or the license of a person who violates this law for up to one (1) year.
When the police cite someone for operating after suspension, they include the license plate number of the vehicle which the person was driving with a suspended license. The Registry then schedules “complaint regulatory” hearings for the owners of these vehicles. The Registry has the authority to suspend or revoke the registration and license plates of a vehicle which was driven by someone who had a suspended license. Not being able to drive your car can be as crippling as having your license suspended or revoked. If you receive a complaint regulatory notice, you will be required to attend a hearing at the RMV. If you fail to appear at the hearing your motor vehicle registration and/or driver’s license may be suspended.