2017 has already had its share of crazy Massachusetts DUI Stories. In February, Sergey Domnenko crashed into a car in Agawam, Massachusetts. He fled the accident, and a witness at the scene followed him. He crashed his car again, about 50 miles away in Connecticut, and proceeded to escape on foot. Police caught Domnenko and charged him with a DUI/OUI. (In Massachusetts, the term is OUI for “operating under the influence,” though many people still refer to it as a DUI.
Before that, the state police arrested a Massachusetts woman in Canterbury for driving the wrong way on Interstate 93. Jessica Powers was charged with driving under the influence after sobriety tests registered her blood alcohol at 0.29 percent, nearly four times the legal limit.
Stories, Stories, Stories
And while law enforcement usually are the ones giving the sobriety tests, sometimes they can be the ones taking them. In January a Massachusetts State Police Trooper drove under the influence in the Acton area. Angela Guerrera was off duty at the time and was charged with a DUI and failure to stop at a red light.
Recent Massachusetts DUI stories can be frightening for parents to read about, and a recent one caused a lot of upset in April about a drunk driver with two young children in his car.
The DA charged Xavier Burgos with two counts of operating under the influence with a minor in the car and several other counts including operating under the influence and failure to drive in the proper lane. Most disturbing was the charge of transporting a child under seven years old or 60 pounds without a restraint, meaning the kids did not have seat belts on while he drove intoxicated.
Massachusetts DUI Stories Don’t Tell the Whole Story
About one in three traffic deaths in the US involve a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. At that point, a driver is alcohol-impaired by law and charged with a DUI. Even though these Massachusetts DUI stories might suggest otherwise, statistics are offering a hopeful outlook for our state. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, the number of alcohol-related fatalities is declining. In 2014, drunk drivers caused 143 of the total 346 deaths from car accidents In 2015, both the number of total deaths decreased; there was a total of 306 fatalities related to car accidents, and 96 were alcohol related. The Massachusetts DUI statistics show a percentage drop of 9% of alcohol-related fatalities those two years.
How Does Massachusetts Compare to the National Average?
This decline in Massachusetts is in stark contrast to the national average. Alcohol-impaired driving deaths increased by 3.2 percent from 9,943 deaths in 2014 to 10,265 in 2015. Massachusetts was one of 18 states to report a reduction in the DUI deaths, and 35 states reported an increase.
There are still some concerning facts about drinking and driving. People in Massachusetts are slightly more likely to drive after drinking too much. In this self-reporting study done by the Behavioral Risk Factor Assessment, 2.2% of Massachusetts drivers admitted to driving while inebriated, which was slightly more than the national average of 1.9%. Teens, however, seem to be getting the message better than some adults. According to a study done in 2013 as part of the Massachusetts Health Council’s “Common Health for the Commonwealth” report, 18 percent of Massachusetts high school students reported riding in a car with an intoxicated driver in the past 30 days. This finding is down 9% compared to a similar study done in 2005.
Possible Reasons for the Decline
Many people contribute the decline in alcohol-impaired driving deaths to the penalties for an OUI/DUI in Massachusetts. A driver’s first offense can cost them between $500 to $5000, a year driving suspension, and up to 30 months in jail.
For a second offense, jail time of at least 30 days and up to 30 months can occur. The driver also can have their license suspended for two years, as well as fines ranging from $600 to $10000.
Once the driver can drive again, they must have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on their car. Similar to a breathalyzer, the driver must breathe into the IID when getting into the car. If the driver’s blood alcohol reading is higher than the programmed limit, the car won’t start. The driver convicted of the OUI/DUI pays for the installation of the IID as well as the monthly lease fees. Each arrest after the second results in longer prison stays and higher fines. By the fifth offense, a convicted driver could be looking at up to five years jail time. The courts may levy fines up to $50,000 and permanently suspend licenses.
If you’d like to find out more about Massachusetts DUI laws, click here.
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