RMV Shows Melanie's Law Successful in Getting More Drunk Drivers Off the Road

(Boston, MA) - Registrar Rachel Kaprielian today released new data which shows that in the three years since Melanie's Law was enacted, nearly 20% more suspected drunk drivers are being arrested while fewer of those charged are refusing to take the breathalyzer test.

The anniversary report also indicates that 553 drivers convicted of two or more OUI violations successfully completed the RMV's ignition interlock program. To date, only two people who finished the program have been re-arrested on OUI charges and face prosecution. Nearly 4,000 offenders remain in the program which electronically monitors their blood alcohol level through a handheld device connected to the vehicle ignition.

"These statistics give us good reason to celebrate the third anniversary of Melanie's Law," said Registrar Kaprielian. "The tougher penalties and administrative sanctions are helping to take more drunk drivers off our roadways. The interlock monitoring devices help ensure that repeat offenders who have been granted hardship licenses are not driving after drinking."

The RMV set up the ignition interlock program-one of the main directives of Melanie's Law--in January of 2006. The goal was to target any driver convicted of a second or subsequent OUI offense and keep them from getting behind the wheel.

The RMV changed its eligibility for hardship licenses, requiring repeat offenders to present proof they do not have access to public transportation to get to work or school. Drivers who are granted a hardship license or have licenses eligible for reinstatement are required to use the ignition interlock devise (IID) on any vehicle they may use for a mandatory minimum of two years. The IID prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver fails the initial breath test with a blood alcohol concentration of greater than .02. Drivers are also subject to random rolling retests. Every 30 days the driver must return to the IID vendor which then uploads the data collected by the device and forwards it to the RMV which monitors each program participant.

"We know that increasing penalties and license suspensions alone isn't going to deter every motorist from driving drunk," said Registrar Kaprielian. "Melanie's Law and the IID program reduce the gamble a repeat offender may take in driving with a suspended license while helping protect the public with an effective preventative system against driving drunk."

Melanie's Law also established several new offenses and increased penalties for anyone arrested for OUI while operating a vehicle with a suspended license under a previous OUI violation. It is also illegal for anyone to allow an IID restricted driver to operate a vehicle not equipped with the device.

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IID Removals January 2006 - October 2008:  219 voluntary withdrawals, 553 completed, 117 fail outs and 3797 drivers remain in program
MELANIE'S LAW ARRESTS AND CHEMICAL TEST REFUSALS
10/28/04 TO 10/28/05
YR before
10/28/05 to 10/28/06
1st YR
10/28/06 to 10/28/07
2nd YR
10/28/07 to 10/28/08
3rd YR
Total OUI Arrests 13,335 14,069 15,667 16,199
CHEMICAL TEST REFUSALS 7,103 6,497 6,927 6,926
Percent of total OUI arrests 53% 46% 44% 43%
ARRESTS OF 3 OR MORE PRIOR OUI CONVICTIONS 615 537 495 442
Percent of Total OUI arrests 4.60% 3.80% 3.10% 2.70%

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