‘Melanie’s Law’ also imposed harsher penalties on this convicted of having drugs in their system, but that portion of the law was left untouched by the state’s highest court.
‘Melanie’s Law’ was first enacted statewide in 2005 and was meant as a deterrent against repeat drunk driver offenders. It imposed harsher penalties on those who were convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, those who refused to submit to sobriety checks and even those who failed a breathalyzer test.
The state supreme court did find a problem with the law, but rather with the language of the law, which they said failed to clearly define what was meant by a “conviction.” In other words, just because someone initially admitted to driving under the influence did not mean they would fall under the penalties intended with ‘Melanie’s Law.’ If that person was later found not guilty of their admitted crime, would they or wouldn’t they, because of the admission of guilt, fall under the purview of ‘Melanie’s Law?’
The state supreme court now says lawmakers will need to go back and re-write the law to clarify exactly who the law is intended for.
Despite this problem with the law, the court allowed the portion which increased penalties for those who fail a breathalyzer test, or increasing the maximum penalty for those fully convicted of drunk drivers.
It is just the grey area in between which the court is asking law makers to better define. And Massachusetts lawmakers have responded swiftly by re-writing the bill which they plan to make first on the agenda at the start of the 2013 session.