Dozens of repeat Massachusetts drunken drivers are exploiting a gaping loophole in a statute called Melanie's Law to dodge the toughest penalties by bundling their cases together to escape harsh felony convictions, says the Boston Herald. The 3-year-old law was designed to crack down on repeat roadway drunks. Of the 234 state residents with more than one offense last year, 87 disposed of multiple cases the same day, in many instances allowing them to avoid mandatory jail time and lengthy license suspensions.
Somerville City Solicitor John Gannon was arrested three times for OUI in 2007 but avoided being convicted as a three-time drunken driver by bundling two of his cases. Rather than face mandatory jail time as a three-time drunken driver, Gannon combined the new cases and was convicted of two counts of “OUI second offense.” As a result, he received a one-year suspended jail sentence. Another defense tactic is to “leap-frog” cases, a practice in which a defendant cops to the most recent charge and then deals with an earlier case to avoid being tagged as a repeat offender.