The Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Bill amended G.L. c. 276A, so that those charged with operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs can no longer be considered for diversion under the VALOR act.
Prior to the enactment of the Criminal Justice Reform Act, qualified DUI defendants could earn a diversion of operating under the influence charges by completing terms and conditions of pre-trial probation under the VALOR act. Now, with the implementation of changes brought about by the Mass. Criminal Justice Reform Act, that is no longer a viable option. The new legislation makes the charge of Operating Under the Influence in Massachusetts ineligible for VALOR diversion.
This change likely came about because critics of the VALOR Act have claimed that veterans are abusing their status to improperly avoid criminal consequences. Although the Act might allow a qualified veteran to escape criminal penalties, veterans must “earn” a diversion by satisfying agreed upon requirements.
To address this important issue, the Massachusetts Legislature is considering making amendments to the VALOR act. However, unless and until those amendments are enacted and signed into law, DUI cases are not eligible for VALOR diversion. This ineligibility applies to DUI offenses committed after 3:31 p.m., on April 13, 2018, when Governor Baker signed Chapter 69 of the Acts of 2018, “An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform.” Drunk driving offenses committed prior to that date and time can still be considered for diversion under G.L. c. 276A.
Nothing prevents a DUI from being disposed of pursuant to G.L. c. 90 Sec. 24D. However, in those cases, the 24D disposition would count as a prior offense if the defendant was subsequently facing another OUI charge.
Anyone who is attempting to resolve an operating under the influence charge via the VALOR Act should be aware of this issue. The Registry of Motor Vehicles will no honor VALOR act dispositions.