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Massachusetts Law About Drunk Driving

Massachusetts Laws

Massachusetts Regulations

Massachusetts Court Rules

District Court Standing Order 1-08: Petitions for Judicial Review of License Suspension for Chemical Test Refusal

Jury Instructions

Criminal Model Jury Instruction 5.300: Operating Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor or with a Blood Alcohol Level of .08% or Greater, Mass. District Court, revised May 2011.

Selected Case Law

Commerce Insurance v. Ultimate Livery, Inc., 452 Mass. 639 (2008). A limousine company "owed a duty to the plaintiffs to avoid discharging a passenger who they knew, or should have known, was intoxicated and likely to drive an automobile," where passengers who had been drinking were dropped in a parking lot at 2 am, got in a car and drove, resulting in a fatal accident, and thus the company could be tried for negligence.

Commonwealth v. Colturi, 448 Mass. 809 (2007). Prosecutors need not introduce expert testimony extrapolating from blood alcohol level at the time of the test to the level at the time of the stop, "so long as the test is conducted within a reasonable period of time after the driver's last operation of the vehicle."

Commonwealth v. Gibson, 82 Mass. App. Ct. 834 (2012). Instruction on absence of breathalyzer evidence. Where "no breathalyzer test report or results were admitted in evidence, a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice arose from the judge's erroneous limiting instruction that, in addition to appropriately instructing the jury that they were not to consider any absence of breathalyzer evidence, informed them that a person does not have to take a breathalyzer test."

Commonwealth v. Maloney, 447 Mass. 577 (2006). Upheld the portions of Melanie's Law dealing with proof of prior convictions. "We hold that the application of § 6A of Melanie's Law, St. 2005, c. 122, § 6A, as construed in this opinion, to the defendant's G. L. c. 278, § 11A, proceeding does not violate the ex post facto, due process, or confrontation clauses of the Federal or State Constitutions."

Commonwealth v. Steele, 455 Mass. 209 (2009). 501 CMR 2.57 [Reg. is now at 501 CMR 2.15] is valid and controlling and where two samples "differ within +/- 0.02 blood alcohol content units, the lower of the two adequate breath samples shall be taken as the individual under arrest's blood alcohol level."

Commonwealth v. Zeininger, 459 Mass. 775 (2011). "The certification and supporting records were created as part of a regulatory program providing standardized mechanisms for the routine maintenance of all breathalyzer machines throughout the Commonwealth. Given this fact, we conclude that they were admissible in evidence as business records pursuant to G.L. c. 233, § 78, and were not testimonial statements within the scope of protection afforded by the confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

Souza v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles, 462 Mass. 227 (2012). An "admission to sufficient facts" did not count as a previous conviction and thus the registrar lacked the authority to suspend the driver's license for more than 180 days.

Testing and Devices

Approved Breath Testing Instruments, State Police Office of Alcohol Testing, Nov. 2012.

Ignition Interlock Devices, Registry of Motor Vehicles. Explains some of the details of who needs a device, how to obtain one, and how they work.

Regulations for Blood Analysts, Mass. State Police. Regulations promulgated under 501 C.M.R. § 2.29 cover certification requirements and laboratory procedures for analyzing blood alcohol levels.

Other Web Resources

Melanie's Law Summary, Registry of Motor Vehicles. Includes tables outlining the penalties under the law.

Repeat Drunken Driving Slowed: Arrest Statistics Show Law Appears to be Working, Boston Globe, Sept. 14, 2006. Summarizes statistical changes in eleven months since implementation of Melanie's Law.

Print Sources

Drunk Driving Defense (Mass. Practice v.50), MCLE, 2004 with supplement.

Representing the OUI Client, Mass. Bar Institute, 2009.

Trying OUI Cases in Massachusetts, MCLE, loose-leaf. Includes a completely revised chapter on sanctions and penalties for OUIs (In Chapter 10); as well as new State Police Office of Alcohol Testing reference material (Ch. 12) and full-text of the 2008 Breath Test (BT) Manual. Also includes forms on CD-ROM.