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Does Massachusetts require DUI interlock devices?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2021 | Criminal Law

Driving under the influence creates a potentially fatal hazard on the road. Commuters, pedestrians, bicyclists, passengers and the intoxicated driver could all suffer from a collision. Massachusetts lawmakers have passed legislation hoping to reduce drunk driving crashes. The law requires ignition devices for first-time offenders convicted of operating while under the influence.

Massachusetts and interlock ignition devices

An interlock ignition device connects a breath test integrated into the ignition system. A driver must blow into the ignition device, and the device checks the breath for blood alcohol content. If BAC levels are too high, the car won’t start.

For many years, Massachusetts remained the lone holdout state that did not require an interlock ignition device for some first-time DUI or OUI offenders. Lawmakers added the interlock device language to budget legislation, and Governor Charlie Baker signed the law in December 2020.

Individuals convicted of an intoxicated driving offense might not appreciate having an ignition interlock installed. However, the device may save lives, including the lives of those with substance abuse issues.

If drivers violate the terms

Someone convicted of a DUI offense might not always drive his or her own vehicle. Using someone else’s car to escape an interlock device’s breath test could lead to an intoxicated driver facing another arrest.

Those convicted of multiple DUI charges could find themselves facing significant fines and jail time. Even the penalties for first-time offenses can be harsh. A drunk driving accident may result in multiple charges depending on the circumstances. Attempts to flee the police, for example, would add to the person’s legal woes.

Individuals facing drunk driving charges still have rights. Did the police lack probable cause when making the arrest? If so, the court might throw out the evidence. The same might be true when it can be proven that a breath test turned up a false positive.