Senate to Debate Ignition Interlock License Bill

On Saturday, July 23, 2016 the Massachusetts State Senate is scheduled to debate a Bill which would remove the waiting periods for hardship licenses and allow those who refused to submit to a chemical test or those who fail a breathalyzer test to immediately obtain ignition-interlock-restricted licenses.

If passed, the law will also allow those convicted of DUI, DUI causing serious bodily injury, and Motor Vehicle Homicide involving alcohol, to appeal their licenses suspensions to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and be considered for full time license reinstatements, without having to serve any minimum-mandatory suspension periods. Any license issued under this law would have a mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) requirement.

Under the proposed legislation, the Registry retains the authority to establish requirements and restrictions in addition to mandatory use of the IID. The proposed legislation requires completion of any jail or prison sentence as well as enrollment in an approved alcohol education program.

For those DUI offenders who are on probation, any violation of the terms and conditions of probation would result in the immediate revocation of the ignition interlock license.

Currently, repeat DUI offenders in Massachusetts are required to install a certified ignition interlock device in any vehicle which the repeat offender owns, leases, or operates. This law appears to remove that requirement and it only requires IID installation in any vehicle which the drunk driving offender operates. Therefore, it appears possible for a driver with an ignition interlock license to be able to legally own and lease a vehicle not equipped with a certified IID, so long as the offender does not drive that vehicle.

If enacted, this legislation will allow repeat DUI offenders to be considered for ignition interlock licenses regardless of the number of prior drunk driving convictions the offender has. It also makes ignition interlock licenses available to those who have been convicted of vehicular homicide and those who have permanently lost their driving privileges due to breathalyzer refusals with multiple prior operating under the influence convictions.

Once the Bill is passed in the Senate, it still needs to be passed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and signed by the Governor. Assuming that it passes and is enacted, it is scheduled to take effect on January 1st of next year.