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A Patriot Ledger series: Summary | PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | UPDATES

Melanie's Story

A first-hand story from the grandfather of 13-year-old victim Melanie Powell
Memories of Melanie: A photo slideshow


State ranked among the worst in nation
Quincy judge was among first to take a hard line


TIMELINE: How Massachusetts drunken driving law has changed
Alcohol's causes and effects
How local and state courts treat repeat drunken drivers
Busiest courts in state for drunken driving arraignments

The cost of drunken driving

Massachusetts fails compared with other states
Death toll from drunken driving

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Melanie’s Bill: In a reversal, official says it would satisfy U.S.

The Patriot Ledger

An image of Melanie Powell graces her tombstone. The 13-year-old Marshfield girl was killed by a drunk driver in 2003.A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official said, after a closer review, that drunken driving legislation passed by state lawmakers last week does meet federal standards and could free up $7.5 million in federal highway funds for road and bridge repairs.

Philip Weiser, the director of the agency’s New England region, had said Monday that the legislation, known as Melanie’s Bill, was out of compliance with federal rules because it did not include alcohol assessment and treatment for repeat offenders.

A Patriot Ledger story yesterday, based on what Weiser had said, reported the state could lose access to millions of federal dollars for highway construction.

Weiser reversed course yesterday after the agency’s legal counsel took a more thorough look at the final version of the bill passed by the Legislature last week.

“We had some confusion on whether or not the criteria related to (alcohol) assessments had been met,” Weiser said. “We weren't sure if that language had been retained.”

Weiser said the bill was read yesterday by the traffic safety administration’s legal counsel, Roland Bauman, who concluded Melanie’s Bill, if signed into law, would satisfy the federal regulations necessary for the state to continue receiving millions of dollars for highway construction.

The bill is headed back to the Legislature with amendments added by Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney said the bill falls far short of what was originally proposed to deal with repeat drunken drivers.

The legislation is named for a 13-year-old Marshfield girl killed by a repeat drunken driver in 2003.

Dan DeLeo may be reached at ddeleo@ledger.com.


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