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Natick Drunk Driving Law Blog

Is a road test all that is required before license reinstatement?

Immediately after you have received notification that you are eligible to request that your license is reinstated in Massachusetts, your attention to detail will be crucial in making sure that you have your driving privileges given back as soon as possible. Contrary to what you may have heard from other people, a driving test may not be the only requirement in your effort to have your license reinstated. 

Depending on the offense that you committed that resulted in your license's revocation in the first place, the courts may require you to complete a series of tasks before your eligibility is verified and your license is given back. According to mass.gov, some of the educational courses that you may be required to participate in could include the following:

  • State Courts Against Road Rage (SCARR): This program will instruct you about the dangers and risks of responding angrily to other drivers and teach you coping mechanisms and healthy ways to respond when other drivers have bothered you. 
  • Drug or Alcohol Counseling: These types of rehabilitation programs may enable you to understand the negative effects of consuming drugs and alcohol and how your consumption could dangerously affect your ability to make responsible decisions while driving. 
  • National Safety Council (NSC)/Massachusetts driver retraining program: Your participation in this well-rounded educational program can provide helpful tips for driving, as well as give valuable refreshers on general driving practices, their importance and the consequences if you do not adhere to them. 

Drunk driving and older adults

When some people think of the typical drunk driver, they may think of someone who is in their teens or a twenty-something. People may also envision a male driver when they think about the type of person who typically drives drunk. However, it is important to bear in mind that drivers of all ages may operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, whether they are male or female. Moreover, older adults also drive drunk and may find themselves facing charges for operating while under the influence. In fact, drunk driving among older adults raises a number of issues, which we will touch on in this post.

First of all, a driver’s blood alcohol content level may be impacted by their age. As a result, an older driver could be more likely to find themselves over the legal limit and charged with drunk driving. Someone in an older age bracket may not realize that just a couple of drinks left them over the legal limit, and this could lead to very harsh consequences. The bodies of older adults may have more difficulty breaking down alcohol in their system, so it may stay in their system for longer periods of time—resulting in DUI charges if they are pulled over.

The unexpected effects of license suspension

In Massachusetts, there are several different reasons why someone may end up with their license suspended. For example, operating a vehicle while under the influence (OUI) can result in such penalties. Today, we will take a look at some of the reasons for license suspension and the effects it can have on drivers.

FindLaw takes a look at different reasons for license suspension. This can be divided into driving offenses and non-driving offenses. Driving offenses include things like drag racing, leaving the scene of an accident, failing to comply with a breathalyzer test, assaulting someone on the highway, or reckless driving. 

What happens to your insurance if your license is revoked?

When you were pulled over for operating your vehicle under the influence in Massachusetts, your license may have been revoked temporarily. This action prevents you from being able to legally drive for a period of time while you work to pay restitution for your choice. While you may think that your license's revocation is limited to your driving privileges, it can also affect your insurance which is something you should be aware of. 

Insurance companies rely on your commitment to driving your vehicle safely in order to supply you with the coverage you request. They also require you to maintain a valid driver's license that shows that you do not have any infractions against you that could indicate that you are at risk of causing an accident. As such, a revoked license means your insurance coverage is negated until you are able to meet the requirements given to you by authorities before you are able to request that your license is reinstated. 

DUI child endangerment laws in Massachusetts

When an officer stops a person on suspicion of driving under the influence in Massachusetts, and when that person has a child passenger in the vehicle, the state may charge the driver with both an OUI and child endangerment. This is thanks to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which convinced federal lawmakers that driving drunk with a child passenger is a form of child abuse. Today, all but four states have the power to charge a person with a separate offense if that person is guilty of operating a motor vehicle while inebriated and with a child passenger. In all states, including those that do not have additional laws, prosecutors have the right to charge the drunk driver with the additional crime of child endangerment.

Though MADD was the first to introduce the concept of child endangerment laws, New York was the first state to enact a comprehensive set of child endangerment laws. New York law makes it a felony to drive with a child in the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Massachusetts's laws are not so strict. However, the state may charge a person with a misdemeanor if an officer stops him or her while he or she is operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol and if the car contains a child passenger who is 14 years of age or younger.

Without approval of breathalyzer, no driving for OUI offenders

When people are convicted for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Massachusetts, they often face a series of consequences depending on the severity of their offense, before they are permitted to regain their driving privileges. Throughout this time, they may be required to pay fines, undergo recovery programs, pay back people who may have been injured by their actions and even serve jail time in some cases. 

Beginning on January 1, 2019, a new law will require that anyone who has previously had an OUI on their record, be required to have an ignition interlock device that will function as a breathalyzer. Offenders will be unable to start their vehicle until they first use the device and are found to be sober. If the device detects any use of alcohol, it will prevent the vehicle from starting. 

Considerations to reduce OUI limit are beginning to be recognized

When people have been drinking in Massachusetts, their split-second decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle can result in a lifetime of perilous consequences. Recognizing the dangers of drinking and driving and implementing measures to prevent that temptation from happening is something that all drivers should be striving to do. However, in situations where a person does make an irrational and careless decision, they may eventually be able to put their mistake behind them with a commitment to never re-offend and active efforts to be better. 

While discussions to lower the OUI limit that is designated by law enforcement personnel has been in the works for some time, Utah is working toward making a permanent change to its law beginning on December 30. The plan is to lower the alcohol consumption that is legally permitted before driving from .08 to .05. While this change has drawn lots of support from people who protest drinking and driving, it has also drawn criticism from those who worry that it is too strict. 

Can you refuse a breath test in Massachusetts?

If you operate your motor vehicle in any place to which the public has right to access or has access as licensees or invitees, you have technically consented to submit to a breath test or chemical test if an officer requests one of you. This is per Section 24 of the General Laws of The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If you refuse the breath test, the state may impose strict consequences.

It is important to understand that an officer may only request a breath test if he or she believes that you are under the influence of intoxicating liquor and if, at the time of your stop, you are operating a motor vehicle. The officer is also required to inform you of the consequences of refusing such a test or analysis, which may include but not be limited to license suspension for at least up to 180 days or up to a lifetime loss.

How do I request an expungement?

Generally, when you make a mistake, it may have a few undesirable consequences, but you can soon move past it. However, when you make a legal mistake, the consequences can follow you throughout your life. This is especially true if you have a conviction for operating under the influence. An OUI on your record could impact your life in many negative ways. Fortunately, you may be able to expunge the conviction from your record.

The Massachusetts Probation Service explains that you must petition the court where you received the OUI conviction to seal your record. While the court only requires you to file the formal petition form that gives an explanation of what you want to be done and why you want it done, you can also include additional information that could help your expungement to move more quickly through the court.

Are field sobriety tests really accurate?

Being questioned by a police officer who suspects you may be impaired while driving is no doubt something that would cause a person to be very nervous. Part of the nerves experienced in this situation is due to the fear of what consequences you might be given if you are convicted. Part of the nerves also come from a lack of understanding about the process and the tests used during the arrest.

Many people might think that field sobriety tests are administered to prove intoxication. However, as explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, this is not only untrue, but it is also impossible. These roadside tests are actually used only to support the law enforcement officer's supposition that you might possibly be drunk. These tests can then provide the evidence needed for you to be legally arrested and charged with drunk driving.