S.678 An Act to Protect the Citizens of the Commonwealth from Drunk Drivers, sponsored by Senator Katherine Clark.
General Law chapter 90 sections 23 and 24 define the various motor vehicle crimes in the Commonwealth – including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, vehicular homicide, and driving to endanger. Every day, in every district court, the judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys struggle to interpret this law, which originated in the early 1900s, and has been amended 69 times over the last 100 years. While the content of the law is solid, the statute has lost orderly flow: there is no definition of terms, no clear delineation offenses, no straightforward exposition of the penalties, and many of the provisions are redundant. This legislation provides a clean, concise and condensed restatement of the impaired driving laws, without making any substantive changes. That is, the elements, penalties and criminal sentences found in the current law remain the same, but the structure the law would become more user-friendly; the layout for each crime would be the same: elements, criminal sentence/fine, and RMV action. The bill, drafted by MDAA in conjunction with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, has been thoroughly vetted by a number of stakeholders; in fact, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Bar Association painstakingly reviewed the language and edited the language with MDAA to ensure content neutrality. As a result, both Associations agreed to not only endorse, but also co-sponsor, this bill.