Shutting Down the Registry CWOF “Loophole” on the Agenda for the State Senate

Via the blog of State Senator Bruce Tarr, one of the many amendments to this year’s state budget being debated is to close the so-called loophole created by the SJCs Souza v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles decision.

We are not political prognosticators, but it seems like there is more than a reasonable chance that this amendment passes. So anyone who has a claim to get their license suspension reduced under the Sousa decision needs to act quickly, since by July it is quite likely this window will have passed.

Find out if you are eligible for a suspension reduction by reviewing our fact sheet on the case. The facts are not obvious or intuitive, such as the situation that it only applies to those who refused the breath test on their second offense OUI (or third), since it is the breath test refusal suspension period that was challenged.

Is Souza v RMV Really a Loophole?

It is convenient for politicians and drunk driving law advocates to say so after the fact, but it is absolutely not obvious that this was the intent, as explicitly stated by the Court. From the SJC decision conclusion:

For the reasons stated, we conclude that the Legislature did not intend an admission to sufficient facts to be treated as a conviction pursuant to G.L. c. 90.

Most likely, when Melanie’s Law passed in 2005 the implications were probably not fully understood or considered at the time. The Registry drew their own conclusion, and no one ever complains when you over-sentence, except those convicted. It is easy for the legislators and prosecutors to say now that the harshest possible interpretation was always what they intended.

No matter. It appears likely that the situation will be clarified soon in the new budget resolution.

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