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Report grades Massachusetts on drunk driving

Massachusetts ranked 22 out of 51 among all states and the District of Columbia for its handling of drunk drivers in a recent study.

Drunk driving has long been a problem on Massachusetts roads and it continues to be. Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show the ongoing struggle via a seemingly never-ending number of fatalities.

In 2010, the state experienced 122 deaths in drunk driving accidents. That was the lowest number of fatalities in a single year for the five years spanning 2010 to 2014. The highest number of statewide impaired driving deaths in one year was recorded in 2014 when 133 people lost their lives in such crashes.

During that same five-year period, Barnstable County was the location of 34 deaths in accidents involving alcohol. Neighboring Plymouth County was the location of 73 fatalities. Seeing these numbers, it is fair that one should question how well the state is doing in cracking down on drunk drivers. That is precisely what one report asked of not just Massachusetts but all states and the District of Columbia as well.

Massachusetts ranked at number 22

WalletHub evaluated the 50 states and the nation’s capital on both preventative and punitive measures related to drunk driving. Massachusetts’ ranking on prevention was quite poor, coming in at 43 out of 51. The state’s positioning at number 12 for punitive measures brought its overall rank to number 22 in the end.

Several factors went into determining each region’s score. These included things like the requirement for drunk drivers to obtain treatment or the removal of driving privileges for people convicted of drunk driving. It also looked at how many, if any, sobriety checkpoints a state held. Mandated use of ignition interlock devices and minimum fines or jail sentences were also considered in the report.

Massachusetts use of IIDs

Ignition interlock devices are considered one way of preventing people from repeating behaviors. However, the National Conference of State Legislatures notes that first-time drunk drivers in Massachusetts are not required to install IIDs.

According to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, only drivers with second or subsequent convictions must use IIDs. This is per what is called Melanie’s Law. They must be installed in any vehicle registered to or used by the defendant. Use must last through any hardship license period and for at least 24 months thereafter. Courts may also mandate other use at their discretion.

Victims must continue to seek help

Because Massachusetts clearly still has room for improvement in keeping people safe from drunk drivers, it is up to victims to take action after an accident. Contacting a lawyer is always recommended for help in seeking compensation.