Monday, January 16, 2012

Melanie's Law

Perhaps the most frequent area of law a Criminal Defense Attorney is questioned about in Massachusetts is Melanie's Law, the statute which deals with Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

Attorney Mike Cupoli of The Law Office of Michael T. Cupoli III which is located at 48 Central Street, Manchester, MA 01944 is no exception.  Questions about Massachusetts drunk driving laws are the most frequent.  This is followed closely by questions concerning the punishments which defendants face and how to navigate through the incredibly confusing bureaucratic web which the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has designed.

The first step is to contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer, such as Mike Cupoli.  Although this article contains good general information about Operating Under the Influence (OUI) laws, each and every case has a completely different set of facts, and must be dealt with on an individual basis.  Contact Attorney Cupoli for a FREE CONSULTATION today!!!

The crime is commonly referred to by many different names: Operating Under the Influence (OUI), Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), or simply as Drunk Driving.  The official name of the crime in Massachusetts is in fact Operating Under the Influence (OUI), but what you call it is irrelevant - the crime consists of the following elements:
  • Operating
  • A motor vehicle
  • On a public way
  • Within the jurisdiction of the Court
  • While intoxicated
The district attorney must prove each and every one of these elements in order to secure a conviction.  If you are indeed convicted, the penalties which went into effect upon the signing of Melanie's Law on October 28, 2005 increased significantly compared to the previous punishments proscribed by law.  Again, this law is complicated, and it is sometimes difficult even to ascertain which punishment may pertain to your situation and standing.  Below you will find some general information regarding the new punishments.  

Refusing a Breathalyzer
( Over age of 21 )

No Prior Convictions  - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  180 days
One Prior Convictions - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  3 years
Two Prior Convictions - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  5 years
Three or More Prior Convictions - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Lifetime

*** CDL Licensees:  Loss of CDL for one year on the first refusal and for life for a second refusal

Punishment if Convicted

First Conviction (Misdemeanor):     
     Fine - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - $500 - $5,000
     Prison Term  - - - - - - - - - - - - - up to 2.5 years
     License Suspension - - - - - - - - - 1 year

Second Conviction (Misdemeanor):     
     Fine - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - $600 - $10,000
     Prison Term - - - - - - - - - - - - - 30 days to 2.5 years
     License Suspension - - - - - - - - - 2 years

Third Conviction (Felony):     
     Fine - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - $1,000 - $15,000
     Prison Term - - - - - - - - - - - - -  150 days to 5 years
     License Suspension - - - - - - - - - 8 years

Fourth Conviction (Felony):   
     Fine - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - $1,500 - $25,000
     Prison Term - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 year to 5 years
     License Suspension - - - - - - - - - 10 years

Fifth Conviction (Felony):     
     Fine - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - $2,000 - $50,000
     Prison Term - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 years to 5 years
     License Suspension - - - - - - - - -Lifetime

The above punishments are a simplification the minimum mandatory numbers contained in the statute, and do not include all of the possible punishments and other requirements forced upon defendants who are convicted of Operating Under the Influence.  Other punishments include: fines, fees, surcharges, court assessments, reinstatement costs, mandatory classes & education, and the Ignition Interlock Device.

The outcome of your case and the conviction you receive can vary significantly.  Having a skilled and experienced attorney like Michael Cupoli and The Law Office of Michael T. Cupoli III on your side can make all the difference.  Please call us today for a FREE CONSULTATION if you or someone you love has been charged with drunk driving.

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