The state Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday removed a portion of a law that targeted drunk driving, known as Melanie’s Law.
The court Thursday disallowed the portion of the law that allows the Registry of Motor Vehicles to increase sanctions against those who admit to driving drunk, but whose cases are later dismissed, reported the Boston Globe.
The issue is that when lawmakers changed the state’s drunk driving law, they did not change what a “conviction” means.
Supreme Judicial Court Justice Margot Botsford wrote in the unanimous decision that the law did not “explicity include cases that are ‘continued without a finding’ in its list of what can be considered drunk driving convictions,” reported the Globe.
The court decision did not change other portions of Melanie’s Law, such as increasing the maximum penalty to convicted drunk drivers and failing to take a breathalyzer test.
State Sen. Bruce Tarr, Senate minority leader who represents North Andover, called the court’s decision “deeply concerning and undermines the effectiveness of a major law that protects our public safety.”
The ruling “begs a legislative response, and we are working to prepare it for inclusion in the first available vehicle, which may well be the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget, he said.
“I’m extremely proud of the good work the legislature did in 2005 implementing Melanie’s Law to toughen the consequences for those who choose to drive drunk, and I’m certain the legislature will act swiftly to strengthen an already strong and comprehensive law,” Tarr said.