As news is unveiled about the devastating accident in New Hampshire that killed seven motorcyclists and hurt three others, an interesting element of the law of operating under the influence (OUI) is being thrust into the limelight: how states communicate with each other about driving infractions and license suspensions.
On June 21, 2019, a pickup truck pulling a trailer is said to have crossed the yellow line and into the path of a group of motorcyclists. The crash in Randolph, New Hampshire killed seven of the bikers and injured three more.
Three days later, the driver of the pickup truck was arrested at his home in West Springfield, Massachusetts. He was charged with seven counts of negligent homicide after being accused of driving erratically.
As his case has progressed, evidence of the driver’s past traffic violations has come to light. Among them was an incident on the morning of May 11, 2019, in Connecticut, just over a month before the accident in New Hampshire. The driver was seen “revving his truck engine and jumping around outside the vehicle” in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Suspecting drug use, police asked him to do a breathalyzer, but he refused. He then failed field sobriety tests and was charged with OUI.
Because the OUI in Connecticut involved a refusal to take a breathalyzer test, the driver’s license was supposed to be suspended under the state’s implied consent law effective immediately. However, because the driver had a Massachusetts license, Connecticut had to relay news of the suspension to Massachusetts for the suspension to go into effect.
For reasons yet uncertain, that did not happen. While Massachusetts and Connecticut are blaming each other for the oversight, the head of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles resigned over the incident.
While it is still unclear what exactly happened, the fact that there are several different databases for driver licenses may be why this particular situation fell through the cracks.
The nonprofit organization American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, or AAMVA, has pushed states to communicate with each other through these databases and share information about traffic violations and license suspensions. This led to the creation of the Driver License Compact in 1960. However, Massachusetts never joined the Compact.
More recently, the AAMVA has urged states to join a newer database of information, the Driver License Agreement. However, only three states have joined the Agreement. Massachusetts and Connecticut are two of those three, but Maine is not.
The inner workings of the Department of Motor Vehicles in different states can become especially important for people who have been accused of OUIs in states other than their home state. Poorly structured systems lead to mistakes that can impact your right to drive. The OUI defense lawyers at MCD Group in Portland, Maine, understand this and know to look for the signs of a license that has wrongfully been suspended during an OUI investigation.
If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with
one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys
How did we do?
Note: Your review may be shared publicly.