So Called “Loophole” Closed

The most recent Massachusetts state budget included a provision to close the so-called loophole with regard to license suspension durations in cases where a prior DUI offense was treated as a CWOF.

The Globe reports that Governor Patrick signed the bill into law on July 8th.

As we commented before, the loophole was actually a reasonable interpretation of how the statute was originally written in Melanie’s law. After the fact, the Registry took the harshest possible interpretation with regard to license restoration and license suspension duration after a refusal on a second offense DUI, and the “tough on crime” and anti-DUI lobby decided that this was correct.

After years in the courts, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court came to the reasonable conclusion that the law seemed to be clear enough, and if the legislature intended for a Continuation without a finding to be treated as a conviction in this situation, they would have said so in the law.

And it wasn’t even close, the courts decision was unanimous (Souza v. Registrar)

Some loophole.

In any case, the legislature has now clarified the statute to be exactly what the harshest interpretation could be, and it is now the law of the Commonwealth.

It is possible that license suspensions issued by the registry before 7/9/12 may still be eligible for reduction, depending how the Registry is willing to interpret this but that window is now closed going forward.

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