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Hundreds of Habitual Drunk Drivers Still on Massachusetts Roads

Numbers released by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles show that almost 1,000 drivers with five or more drunk driving convictions are still legally driving in the State. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

The numbers initially obtained from the Registry of Motor Vehicles by the Boston Herald indicate that 947 chronic drunk-drivers with five or more offenses in the Commonwealth are still on the road.

The number comes from serial offenders that have not been convicted of violating state law since passage of 2005’s Melanie’s Law – which takes aims to punish repeat offenders by the installation of ignition interlock after a second offense and increases punishments, and further offenses can result in a lifetime license suspension .   Because the 947 serial offenders committed crimes before Melanie’s Law was enacted, they are effectively grandfathered in under the law.

State Representative Michael Brady, Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, reacted to the numbers, saying that he will take action into seeing what the legislature can do to remove repeat offenders from the road.

David Deiuliis, Program Manager for the Massachusetts Office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said that revoking licenses will not do enough to keep a serial drunk driver from getting behind the wheel.

Last month, the state legislature closed a loop-hole in Melanie’s Law revealed in the Supreme Judicial Court case Souza v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles. The decision by the court overturned license suspension of some repeat offenders.

State Representative William ‘Smitty’ Pignatelli also reacted to the numbers of habitual offenders still on the roads.

Pignatelli recently introduced a late-file bill that would seek to issue any convicted driver with a replacement license clearly identifying them to bartenders and others selling alcohol. Pignatelli said the bill is in place to specifically raise awareness of the issue not restrict alcohol sales. He said that he hopes the bill will be fresh in the minds of legislators in the next session.