A man was arrested in Northampton for OUI officially called operating a vehicle while intoxicated in the State of Massachusetts.
His arrest would have been remarkable enough considering it was his eighth DUI-law conviction, but it was even more remarkable: his license was supposed to have been revoked permanently by the Rhode Island courts.
Instead, he was able to acquire his Massachusetts license after 7 DUI convictions in Rhode Island.
Why? Massachusetts OUI procedure has a particular trait, one that is shared with only 4 other states in our nation. That trait is an opt-out from the interstate Driver License Compact.
What Is the Interstate Driver License Compact?
Under Interstate Driver License Compact, participating states must freely share information regarding moving traffic violations.
The idea is that someone with an unacceptable driving record in North Carolina cannot simply move to Maine and wipe the slate of their driving record clean.
However, they may be able to do so in Massachusetts along with Georgia, Michigan, California, Wisconsin and Tennessee.
Massachusetts has opted out of the Compact.
Even though state laws, ALM GL 90:30B, provide permission for the state to engage in such a compact, the state apparently declined to connect to a nationwide DUI database that would allow them to share information regarding violations, suspensions and alcohol-related offenses.
It is the only state in New England to do so, causing some amount of consternation among neighboring states.
Is Massachusetts OUI Law Affected By Opting Out of the DLC?
In short opting out of the DLC does not affect Massachusetts OUI law. The state still maintains strict laws about driving under the influence, many of which carry jail time with a conviction.
From a practical standpoint, though, the DLC opt-out can have a profound impact on certain cases.
Massachusetts resident drivers with out-of-state alcohol violations have the possibility of those prior convictions not showing up during the pre-trial discovery process.
All it would take is a short phone call or website visit to another state’s database to unveil such a conviction, but without any inclination to do so, the priors can often go unnoticed by prosecutors.
By the same token, out-of-state drivers who get an OUI in Massachusetts may potentially not have the conviction follow them home.
Out-of-state drivers arrested under Massachusetts OUI law can still face strict intoxicated driving penalties, with fees that can easily top five thousand dollars and up to a year or more of jail time.
Should the information of prior DUI convictions get shared with Massachusetts State or your outside home state, you may face even stiffer penalties, including a suspended license or even felony charges.
Protect your right to avoid or reduce OUI charges in Massachusetts with an experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer.