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November 29, 2011

MELANIE'S LAW - MA OUI Penalties

Melanie's Law was spawned following the tragic death of, then 13 year old, Melanie Powell, who was killed in an automobile accident that was caused by a repeat drunk driver. The public mourning following this tragedy fueled the expeditious implementation of enhanced penalties for OUI related offenses. Melanie's Law was signed into law on October 28, 2005, furthering the clear objective to enhance both criminal penalties and administrative sanctions for OUI related offenses. The following is a summary of changes in Massachusetts OUI law following the implementation of Melanie's Law:

NEW OUI LAW: OUI while License Already Suspended for OUI

This is a separate and distinct offense from OUI; thus, if probable cause exists to charge an individual with OUI, during the period of time that their license to operate a motor vehicle is already suspended as a result of a prior OUI charge, this individual can be charged with two crimes at once: 1) OUI; and, 2) Operation while License Suspended for OUI.
PENALTY: The penalty for the latter offense is severe, carrying a mandatory minimum one year jail sentence.

NEW OUI LAW: Employing or Allowing an Unlicensed Operator to Operate a Motor Vehicle

i. No person shall employ an individual with a suspended license as a motor vehicle operator.
PENALTY: 1ST Offense: Up to a $500 Fine, coupled with a license suspension up to one year. 2nd Offense: Up to one year House of Correction sentence, and license suspension up to one year.
ii. No person shall allow a vehicle owned by him/her, or under their control, to be operated by an unlicensed person.
PENALTY: 1st Offense: One year House of Correction sentence; a fine up to $500; and, a license suspension up to one year. 2nd Offense: Two and one half years House of Correction sentence; and/or a fine up to $1000; and, a license suspension up to one year.
iii. No person shall allow an individual with an Ignition Interlock restriction to operate a vehicle not equipped with the device.
PENALTY: 1st Offense: Up to one year imprisonment and up to a $500 fine; and, license suspension up to one year. 2nd Offense: Up to two and one half years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1000; and, license suspension up to one year.


NEW OUI LAW: Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle

Melanie's Law provides that: Any driver who commits manslaughter while Operating a Motor Vehicle while Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs shall be convicted of Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle.
PENALTY: Mandatory minimum State Prison sentence of five years, and up to twenty years, and a fine up to $25,000; and, a minimum license suspension of fifteen years, up to a lifetime suspension.


NEW OUI LAW: Child Endangerment while Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol

This new OUI Law is applicable when an individual is charged with OUI, and they were operating the motor vehicle while accompanied by a child fourteen years old, or younger.
PENALTY: 1st Offense: Imprisonment in a House of Corrections for ninety days to two and one half years, and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000; and, one year license suspension. 2nd Offense: House of Corrections sentence of six months to two and one half years, and a fine of $5,000 to $10,000; and, three year license suspension. Or, a State Prison sentence of three to five years.


ENHANCED CIVIL SANCTIONS PURSUANT TO MELANIE'S LAW:

REGISTRATION CANCELLATION - Pursuant to Melanie's Law, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles can cancel the registration plates of any individual that is convicted of a third or subsequent alcohol - related driving offense for the duration of the period of license suspension.
VEHICLE FORFEITURE - Akin to seeking forfeiture of a motor vehicle, for which probable cause that it was used in the furtherance of a drug transaction exists, Melanie's Law provides that the prosecutor can exercise discretion and may seek forfeiture of a defendant's vehicle, if they are convicted of a fourth or subsequent alcohol - related driving offense.
TEMPORARY LICENSE ELIMINATED - Prior to the implementation of Melanie's Law, an individual that was arrested and suspected of an alcohol - related driving offense was afforded a fifteen day temporary license. Melanie's Law eliminated this provision and provides that the operator's motor vehicle be impounded for at least twelve hours following the arrest for OUI.

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July 15, 2011

Fatal Car Accident: Jamaica Plain Man Killed by Drunk Driver in Quincy

According to Boston State police, a fatal crash took place early Sunday morning in Quincy, Massachusetts. The fatal car accident involved a head on collision between two cars resulting in the death of a Jamaica Plain resident.

Reports indicated that the crash took place on Quincy Shore Drive and Rice Road. State Police arrived at the scene of the car crash around 12:30 a.m. Officials indicated that a Chevrolet Silverado was traveling South when it crossed over into the northbound lane and hit a Ford Explorer head-on.

The driver of the Explorer, 50, was killed, and his passenger, 23, of Dorchester, suffered serious injuries. The driver of the Silverado, a 28 year old Plymouth man, was arrested on the scene and charged with operating under the influence (OUI), among other charges. He was also carrying a 27 year old passenger from Hull who suffered serious injuries. After the accident all victims were transported to Boston Medical center.

The full article can be seen here.

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December 14, 2010

Fatal Accident Addition: A Family Tragedy

"In the moments after he allegedly struck Cynthia Ray [who was at the barracks to pick up an accident report involving her husband, Brian Ray] with his 2010 Chevrolet Silverado, Robert V. Bryant, 50, the chief operating officer of a computer software company, reportedly asked a state trooper, 'Did I hit somebody? A pedestrian? I don't remember doing that.' At the time, the resident of Haverhill's Bradford neighborhood was being given a field sobriety test, which State Police say he failed.

Yesterday, Bryant was charged with motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, drunken driving, leaving the scene of personal injury and death, and other offenses.

During his arraignment in Lawrence District Court, he kept his head tilted downward and did not talk. His lawyer, Francis O'Brien, entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.

'This is a good man who unfortunately is now a defendant in a very serious case,' O'Brien said. He characterized his client as a family man without a criminal record and no history of alcohol abuse. Bryant is married and has four children, three of whom are in college."

Brian Ray's father, Steve Ray said, "I'm sorry for [Bryant] and his family, for the anguish that he caused for his family and our family, but he didn't take his responsibility serious enough. I drive a truck. I know what responsibility is. This man, he took a life that lit up our world.''

The full article and embedded video are featured in the Boston Globe, December 14, 2010: A family tragedy, its toll multiplied

December 13, 2010

Fatal Accident Addition: Bryant Arraigned in Lawrence District Court

"A business executive accused of drunken driving told State Police he did not remember driving into a woman as she walked in front of the State Police barracks in Andover Sunday - a crash that claimed the life of the 30-year-old Haverhill woman, a prosecutor said today.

Robert V. Bryant was arraigned today in Lawrence District Court where he pleaded not guilty to numerous charges including motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence for hitting Cynthia Anne Ray Sunday afternoon in Andover.

His defense attorney, Francis O'Brien, said Bryant is the chief operating officer for MCA Solutions, a job he handles while working from his Haverhill home where he has lived for the past 15 years.

'This is a horrible tragedy,' O'Brien said during Bryant's arraignment. He said the 50-year-old Bryant has never faced criminal charges before this weekend. 'He's a good man who unfortunately is now a defendant in a very serious case.'

O'Brien also said that Bryant, who wore a dark suit and white shirt during the arraignment and kept his head bent down while in the courtroom, has repeatedly asked about Ray.
'The (Bryant) family is distraught over what happened to this young woman,' O'Brien said. 'He is only asking about her and her family.'''

The full article is featured in the Boston Globe, December 13, 2010: Accused drunk driver did not recall crash that killed Haverhill woman, prosecutor says

December 13, 2010

Fatal Accident Addition: Defense Attorney Francis T. O'Brien, Jr. of Parker Scheer LLP to Represent Bryant

"Her family and co-workers said Cindy Ray literally lit up a room with her smile. The 30-year-old lighting specialist, who earned an interior design degree from Endicott College, lost her life steps away from the State Police barracks in Andover at about 3 p.m. Sunday.

[Ray] and the car in which her mother was waiting were struck by a pickup driven by Robert Bryant, the 50-year-old chief operating officer of a software company whose home happens to be in the same part of Haverhill as Ray's, Bradford.

After Cindy Ray's mother ran into the barracks to report the crash, troopers rushed out, one called for medical help and another arrested Bryant up Route 125.

'This is a man with no history of mental illness, no history of alcohol abuse, no history of any type of conduct other than complete law-abiding,' said defense attorney Francis O'Brien." O'Brien told the court the only violation his client has on his driving record is running a stop sign in 1984 and again in1987.

The full article, video and radio broadcast are featured on CBS News online, December 13, 2010: Woman Killed In Hit & Run Outside State Police Barracks

December 13, 2010

Fatal Accident Addition: Cynthia Anne Ray of Haverhill Killed in Crash

"A Haverhill man [Robert Bryant] has been ordered held on $50,000 bail after pleading not guilty to motor vehicle homicide and other charges stemming from allegations that he was drunk when he struck and killed a woman outside the state police barracks in Andover.

Bryant was arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Monday, a day after 30-year-old Cynthia Anne Ray of Haverhill was killed in the crash."

The full article is featured in the Boston Globe, December 13, 2010: Woman killed outside Andover state police building

December 12, 2010

Fatal Accident in Andover, Massachusetts

"A 30-year-old Bradford woman was killed this afternoon after being struck by a drunk driver outside a Massachusetts State Police barracks in Andover, said spokesman David Procopio.

Robert V. Bryant, 50, of Bradford, was arrested...."

Full Article featured in the Boston Globe, December 12, 2010: Pedestrian killed outside Andover barracks, driver faces OUI charges