Click to return to summary page

Read our series in The Patriot Ledger Nov. 15-18, 2003.
A Patriot Ledger series: Summary | PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | UPDATES


About
this series

The arrests of more than two dozen repeat drunken drivers on the South Shore since May raised questions about the state's system for dealing with multiple offenders.

How can a person with six or seven drunken driving convictions still be driving?

To find out, The Patriot Ledger reviewed months of court reports, interviewed judges, police officers, lawyers and anti-drunken driving experts.

What we learned is that, in Massachusetts, drunken driving is still considered a petty crime.

 

 

Series recipient of the 2004 and 2006 MADD Media Award
Click to read Melanie's story
AMELIA KUNHARDT/The Patriot Ledger
Melanie Powell, a 13-year-old from Marshfield, was killed in 2003 in a drunken-driving accident. In the latest of our installments about the issue of repeat drunken driving, her grandfather writes about the tragedy and its aftermath. The image above is from Melanie's gravestone.

SERIES SUMMARY

Updates:

2007

10-27-07 - Two years later, more needs to be done on Melanie's law
12-21-07 - Drunken driver's prison time grows
12-19-07 - Plea of guilty anticipated in OUI case

2006

12-14-06 - Almost let out early, drunken driver to serve full sentence
12-13-06 - Driver indicted 3 months after Pembroke crash
11-18-06 - Driver who killed mother of 2 wasn't tested for alcohol
09-14-06 - Marshfield man faces 14th OUI charge
09-09-06 - Marshfield man, Ledger given awards by MADD
04-01-06 - Despite Melanie's law, many get licenses back quickly

2005

12-22-05 - Melanie's law making a difference; some say penalties should be harsher
10-31-05 - Family who lost son happy law is enacted
10-29-05 - Melanie’s Law approved, but there's more to do; Governor signs bill
10-26-05 - Melanie’s Bill: In a reversal, official says it would satisfy U.S.
10-25-05 - In Melanie’s Billhubbub, federal cash may be lost: Without treatment requirement for drunken drivers, no money
10-22-05 - The force behind Melanie’s Bill personifies persistence
10-21-05 - Backers of Melanie’s Bill vow to keep the pressure on state lawmakers for tougher legislation
10-20-05 - Melanie's Bill backers fuming; Deride watered down version as 'backroom deal'
10-07-05 - Convicted drunken driver back in court for 10th time
09-30-05 - Senate puts bite back into Melanie’s Bill
09-29-05 - Melanie’s Bill foes lambaste feel-good politics; hope much of bill will be restored
09-28-05 - Advocates say House has removed much of the legislation’s bite
09-13-05 - Legislators begin hearing into Melanie's Bill.
09-10-05 - A family's goodbye, and a call for tougher laws; a first person account from the grandfather of drunken-driving victim Melanie Powell
09-10-05 - EDITORIAL: Tougher penalties are needed to deter drunken driving
08-12-05 - Melanie’s Bill endangered by petty politics, jealousy
08-02-05 - Bill in trouble: Legislators' support waivers on stiff penalties for repeat offenders in Melanie's Law
07-30-05 - Courts are lax with illegal drivers

07-29-05 - Bill carries $5,000 fine for giving your keys to unlicensed drivers
05-27-05 - Melanie's Law targets drunks: Proposed tougher driving law serves to honor Marshfield teen's memory
04-28-05 - Beating drunken driving rap easy, but it will cost you
02-04-05 - Repeat drunken drivers face in-car test

2004

12-18-04 - Fix ticket policy, campus police say; State is taking away their right to write
10-01-04 - Losing out: Failure to act on drunken drivers costs state
08-27-04 - 5-time drunken driver put in jail for 2 years
08-05-04 - MADD sees good and bad in legislative session
08-03-04 - Bill’s demise may cost state $9M for roads
06-25-04 - On the road again: Drunken drivers get their keys back
06-24-04 - MADD: Ledger series wins top national award
06-15-04 - Drunken drivers: A chance for the state to get tough
04-29-04 - At a loss: Weak drunken driving laws could cost state $9M
03-23-04 - Drunken-driving bill left in limbo again
01-03-04 - Tougher drunken-driving laws in the works

2003

12-18-03 - Mass. drunken driving death rate makes one of nation's biggest jumps
11-20-03 - Editorial - Get tough on drunken drivers
11-19-03 - Editorial - Soft on drunken drivers

THE OFFENDERS
Click here to read PART 1 stories

What will it take to get habitual drunken drivers off the road? And why isn’t Massachusetts doing it?
Read more ...

Someone charged for the second time with drunken driving is probably already addicted to alcohol, experts say.
Read more ...

Lawyers advise drunken driving clients to exercise their right to refuse a blood alcohol test.
Read more ...

What does a blood alcohol level of .08 – the point at which state law says you are too drunk to drive – feel like? A reporter finds out.
Read more ...

Case profiles of individuals convicted of drunken driving on the South Shore.
Read more ...

THE VICTIMS
Click here to read PART 2 stories

It costs Massachusetts victims, taxpayers and insurance providers $1.8 billion a year for drunken driving accidents. Nancy Quintin is just one victim whose costs have far exceeded what insurance pays.
Read more ...

Since Nancy Quintin was injured in a drunken driving accident, the family has spent $45,000 in child care alone.
Read more ...

Families of drunken driving victims wait for their day in court but few say they found justice.
Read more ...

Profiles of victims of drunken driving on the South Shore.
Read more ...

THE BIGGER PICTURE
Click here to read PART 3 stories

What other states are doing to fix the problem, and why Massachusetts has come up short.
Read more ...

Retired Quincy District Court Judge Albert Kramer thought he had the answer to drunken driving 20 years ago.
Read more ...


 

© The Patriot Ledger ~ All rights reserved -
SPECIAL REPORTS ~ PATRIOT LEDGER HOME