After years of failed attempts, it appears proponents of ignition interlock devices will have a victory here in Massachusetts. In the middle of a global pandemic with small businesses closing and high unemployment, the legislature seems poised to change state law through the state budget. Included on page 364 of the 396 Conference Committee Budget Report are two paragraphs related to ignition interlock devices.
In these two paragraphs the conference committee has agreed to mandate in very specific and limited circumstances drivers who are convicted or plea to a first offense OUI/DUI install and maintain an ignition interlock device.
Under the legislation, the Registry may require interlock devices on first offenses if:
- Have no prior OUI/DUI convictions or program assignments;
- After being arrested for OUI/DUI they must have consented to a chemical test of their breath or blood and the results must exceed 0.015;
- They must be found guilty or enter into a plea;
- Individual must decide to seek a hardship license during the balance of their license suspension;
- Individual must be able to enroll in the Driver Alcohol Education Program, obtain the required hardship documentation and get to the Registry of Motor Vehicles to apply for and be approved for a hardship license.
Under the terms of the proposed language if (1) the operator’s breathalyzer test results are below 0.015 or (2) they decide not to seek a hardship license, the Registry cannot require an interlock device. Operators must meet all of the conditions outlined above to be required to install the device. The language also does not necessarily require the Registry of Motor Vehicles impose the interlock device but makes the requirement optional. However, it is unlikely the Registry of Motor Vehicles will not jump at the opportunity to impose the requirement.
It is questionable and highly doubtful that the Registry will be able to sustain any increased traffic. This is especially true for the Interlock Department.