Massachusetts Lawmaker Unveils "Red Stripe" Bill to Identify Serial Drunk Drivers

Jun 4, 2012

As legislators in the State of Massachusetts and attorney General Martha Coakley are pushing to amend drunk driving laws, a bill has been filed in the House with a new initiative to identify repeat offenders. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

 4th Berkshire District Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli has filed legislation to increase awareness of drunk driving in Massachusetts. The bill would mandate that those convicted of drunk driving offenses be issued a replacement drivers license for a temporary period of at least two years. The replacement license would display a prominent red stripe identifying the cardholder as a previous offender. Representative Pignatelli stated that the bill would not restrict alcohol sales but raises awareness…

 In addition, State Attorney General Martha Coakley and leaders of the House and Senate are seeking to close a loophole in what’s known as Melanie’s Law. The efforts come after a recent Supreme Judiciary Court decision that overturned license suspension of repeat offenders. In the Senate budget debates late last month, an amendment was passed to change language in the Melanie’s Law to increase penalties for a second offense.

 Pignatelli stated that his bill was brainstormed with aid from his constituents and the family of Moira Banks-Dobson, a victim of a drunk driving accident in the Berkshire town of Sheffield, who was killed last year.

 Pignatelli’s red stripe bill is considered a late-file. The formal legislative sessions for both the Massachusetts House and Senate ends on July 31st.

 Jan Withers, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said that although the so called red-stripe laws are helpful, other methods of preventing drunk driving continue to be at the forefront in the national fight against drunk driving.

 Lawmakers in neighboring New York are also pushing for stricter penalties for serial drunk drivers. Last month, the state Senate passed regulations that would enforce efforts to monitor repeat offenders with ignition interlocks. Ignition interlocks prevent a vehicle from starting by testing the driver’s breath for traces of alcohol.