Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Melanie's Bill

Work continues at the State House on Melanie's Bill, a law enhancing the penalties for drunk driving, named after 13-year-old Melanie Powell, who was killed by a repeat drunk driver in 2003. On September 28, 2005, the House passed a weakened version of the law, H4403. While not yet available online, this bill is nearly identical to H4383, with six additional sections. In part, those sections do the following: provide for a 15 year license suspension if a motor vehicle is used in manslaughter under c.265 s.13, establish a commission ot study the punishment of drunk drivers, and establish that a person convicted of drunk driving with a child under 12 in the car is guilty of child endnagerment. The following day, the Senate passed a much stronger version of the law, S2219. Key differences in the senate version include: required installation of an ignition-locking device, a new crime of manslaughter by motor vehicle, raising the age of child endangerment to 16, and mandatory alcoholism treatment for repeat offenders. Since the two versions were different, the legislation has gone to conference committee. More information is available at the Boston Globe and Patriot Ledger.