Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
Published October 2003

Letter to the editor

REVISED OUI LAW IS FLAWED*

To the Editor:

Recently, Gov. Mitt Romney and his legal team pushed through a revised OUI law so that MA would become eligible for federal highway money. Unfortunately, in the process a fundamental flaw in the law, which became apparent when the 15 day paper license first came to pass, has yet to be addressed. Amazingly enough, for defendants who want to take advantage of the new law, which provides for a hardship license which encourages defendants to plea out at arraignment, there is no statutory provision allowing people to leave the courthouse with a temporary one day license to allow them to drive legally from the courthouse to their home (probation immediately seizes the temporary 15 day license if there is a plea at arraignment). How to clients get to court? They drive!

No politician really wanted to hear from defense lawyers who practice in the District Court and handle drunk driving cases. It is amazing to me that police issue a temporary license to people who are arrested for drunk driving, which license is valid several hours after the arrest for 15 days. For most of the first 12 hours on that license, people are suffering from alcohol withdrawal, a so-called hangover, and they remain a danger to the public when they drive out of the tow lot. What about the citizen who does what the Legislature intended? Do these politicians get it? What about allowing the client to drive home from court legally after their plea instead of making them commit another crime? I hope some of these politicians respond to this letter.

*Overall the new law has many benefits, read our commentary >>New Massachusetts OUI laws




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