Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey announced that regulations mandated by Melanie’s Law go into effect today, requiring any repeat offender seeking a hardship license or full license reinstatement privileges to install an ignition interlock device into each vehicle he or she operates.
“The passage of Melanie’s Law ensures that repeat drunk driving offenders face harsher consequences for their reckless behavior,” said Healey. “If a repeat drunk driver has alcohol on their breath, ignition interlocks won’t allow drivers to start their engines.”
Healey added, “This is another important step to keep drunk drivers who have a history of breaking the law from getting behind the wheel and endangering our roadways.”
The interlock devices measure Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and prevent the car from starting if the driver has a BAC greater than .02.
During the first month alone, over 400 repeat offenders must install the device in order to receive driving privileges. The repeat offender is responsible for costs associated with interlock devices averaging $125 for installation and $85 for a monthly maintenance fee.
The interlock devices are required in vehicles of 2nd, 3rd or 4th time offenders for two years after their licenses are reinstated. Any individual who tampers with the interlock device or is caught blowing into the device for someone else could face a jail sentence.
“Today we are able to say that more drunk drivers will be taken off the road because of the steps we have taken to tighten our laws and regulations,” said Registrar Anne Collins. “Make no mistake about it, the steady progression we have taken to toughen our drunken driving laws will save lives.”
Healey also said that the process for getting the so-called hardship license should be a hardship for reckless drunk drivers and ordered the Registry of Motor Vehicles to enforce stricter rules when granting hardship licenses.
The Registry of Motor Vehicles will also be requiring this device as a condition of license reinstatement for anyone who has had their license suspended for five years or more because of a breathalyzer refusal and had their license reinstated by the courts.
“The ignition interlock device requirement and stiffer penalties mandated by Melanie’s Law will provide a powerful deterrent against impaired driving,” Colonel Thomas. G. Robbins, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police.