New Drunk Driving Law in Massachusetts is now a lot tougher

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New Drunk Driving Law in Massachusetts is now a lot tougher

Postby Gene DeMambro » Wed Oct 02, 2002 10:03 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote
Because of the escalation of punishment involved with each conviction, there will be a large number of cases, which were previously pleaded out, to go to trial.


We see the same trend with accused sex offenders.

Fearing the increased penalties and the stigma of forever being listed in a sex offender registry, many accussed elect to go to trial, instead of pleading out their cases. As a result, there were/are less convictions.

Gene

PS Note: This is NOT a commentary on strict punishments for drunk driving or sex offenses.
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New Drunk Driving Law in Massachusetts is now a lot tougher

Postby Alan K » Thu Oct 03, 2002 5:55 am

A new change in the Massachusetts Operating Under the Influence statute has just made drunken driving violations even more serious

The new law will force sentencing judges to consider all drunk-driving convictions on one’s record and not just those dating back 10 years (as had been the former law). This will take effect on November 28, 2002. Now a conviction will be forever on the records to be considered in any additional conviction.

Because of the escalation of punishment involved with each conviction, there will be a large number of cases, which were previously pleaded out, to go to trial.

The 10 year look back under G.L. Chapter 90, section 24 is now eliminated in counting of the offense.

There is one exception to the rule: e.g. under the current law, if a drunk driver were convicted today, and he had one prior offense within the last ten years, and two others prior to that, his sentence would only reflect that of a two time offender where the penalties include mandatory in-hospital alcohol treatment and jail time is often avoided.

However if a person with the same prior history is arrested and convicted under the new law, that person would be treated as a four-time offender, which carries severe mandatory jail time penalties.

Because of the lack of “ex post facto” effects it will only apply to those arrested after the effective date of the statute.

One defense attorney says “Effectively the amendment means that there really is a 10 year look-back for second offenders only.”

Just picture someone who had two offenses spread over a large number of years, with no priors in the last ten years, now facing his first arrest because of a lapse in judgment, now facing jail time for what would have formerly been a first offense.

The judge now does not have the ability to offer some in-hospital treatment or other sentencing, if even in the opinion of the judge, such sentencing would be more worthy than jail time.

Is this computerized conviction from the star ship “Enterprise”?

In any case the warning has been delivered, please don’t shoot the messenger.

Alan K


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"The Goddess of Justice is Blind"
Alan K
 
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New Drunk Driving Law in Massachusetts is now a lot tougher

Postby Alan K » Thu Oct 03, 2002 3:26 pm

Gene:

I appreciate your statistics and commentary, and what you say about this type of statute is true and produces many adverse results.

Once the human equation is removed, that is to say the possible evaluation of the accused, and the circumstances surrounding the arrest, the most hardened criminal will be treated the same as Casper Milktoast, a poor soul now 50 years old, no criminal history except a plea of the case warranting a finding of operating under the influence on a couple of occasions when he was a college student in 1975, and now faces his third (jail) offense.

He never had an accident and the latest arrest was the result of having one too many at a testimonial dinner, and blew a .09.

Mandatory sentencing in this case does not consider the circumstances, and the look-back itself is not relevant nor can the circumstances surrounding the prior convictions be considered by the judge.

This is not a three strike situation of a hardened criminal.

Defense counsel interviewed in the report of this change, all have stated that the 14 day in-hospital program available to second offender's has been extremely effective.

The mandatory sentencing of a third or more conviction also does not consider the suffering of a family resulting from the loss of income or job for over a year, nor the factor of rehabilitation.

I am not talking about the bad ass moron who gets crazy on two drinks, evokes police chases and kills people with his insane driving.

The many pay for the few once the population has grown and orgainizations like MADD, and other organizations push for stricter and stricter legislation.

On the other hand I do hope that my comments are not taken as a pat on the back for drunk-drivers.

The statute as drafted, IMHO, is regressive and smacks of Salem, MA in 1692, where the innocent pay for the crazy, and Quaker's were forced to take church property in a nominee trust to avoid religious persecution.

I would rather see a statute or regulation which permitted humanization of the case by the judge having the ability to assess each case and make exceptions within given parameters.

The bad guy would be culled out and old Casper Milktoast could be admitted say for 30 days in the Last Chance hospital. And after a certain length of time regain his sunrise to sunset driving privlege, without the taxpayers picking up the bill for jail time and welfare for wife and kids.

Just a thought.

Alan K
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