Ignition Interlock Bill for First-time DUI Offenders Fails in MA Senate

On April 25, the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill designed to make roads less dangerous for pedestrians, bicyclists, and car occupants alike. Safety changes to be implemented include additional passing laws, decreased speed limits, and requiring state-owned vehicles to have corvex and crossover mirrors installed.

While each of these changes is a positive step toward enhancing road safety, the Senate once again refused to pass part of the bill that would have expanded the use of ignition interlock devices to include first-conviction drunk drivers. An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that is installed in vehicles. Just like a standard a breathalyzer, drivers blow into the device, which then measures the amount of alcohol in their system. If a preset amount of alcohol is detected, the device temporarily locks the vehicle’s ignition to prevent it from being driven. If multiple tests are taken and failed in a row, the ignition locks for increasing periods of time.

Today, Massachusetts is the only state that does not allow ignition interlocks to be used on first-time DUI offenders. Despite years of pressure to pass similar laws, interlock devices are only required to be used by drivers with hardship licenses and two or more DUI convictions. Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, an advocate of the failed bill, does not think this is enough: “one of the most significant things we can do to reduce roadway fatalities… is to implement the use, the further use, of ignition interlocks, particularly for first-time offenders of drunk driving offenses.

Ignition interlock devices are a proven method to method to reduce drunk-driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interlock ignition laws decrease subsequent DUI accidents by 67 percent.  According to a 2016 report released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which sent a group of representatives to Beacon Hill in 2009 to support similar legislation, ignition interlock devices have prevented over 240,000 drinking and driving instances in Massachusetts in the past decade.

If passed, Senate Bill 1925 would have required ignition interlock devices to be used for six months after a first-time DUI offender’s license is reinstated.

If you have been involved in a drunken driving accident, call the experienced attorneys at Sweeney Merrigan Law today at (619) 391-6001 to discuss your legal options.

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Insys’ Executives Convicted of Bribing Doctors to Prescribe Fentanyl-based Opioid

In a landmark ruling on May 1, a Boston federal jury found Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor and four other Insys executives guilty of a racketeering conspiracy that helped fueled America’s opioid epidemic. They were accused of bribing doctors to prescribe patients with Insys’ opioid painkiller, a fentanyl spray called Subsys. In 2016 alone, Insys made 18,000 payments to doctors that added up to over $2 million.

Subsys is a rapid onset painkiller designed to treat adult cancer patients with breakthrough pain. The investigation, however, found that Kapoor was fabricating patients’ needs for Subsys to health insurance companies in order to boost sales – meaning patients were being sent home with an addictive painkiller they never needed. He and his four co-defendants each face up to 20 years in prison for racketeering.

Addiction is widespread, with opioid overdoses killing nearly 48,000 people in 2017. Opioids encompass a number of drugs, from legally prescribed painkillers like OxyContin to street drugs like heroin. There has also been a recent rise in illegal drugs being laced with Fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger than morphine, highly addictive, and can be fatal.

A number of other big pharmaceutical companies are facing upcoming lawsuits in dozens of states because of their aggressive opioid marketing. Oklahoma will be the first state to go to a jury trial, which begins on May 28. While Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, has agreed to pay a $270 settlement before the trial, the court case is proceeding with the other defendants: Allergen, Johnson & Johnson, and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

This marks the first conviction of a top pharmaceutical executive in the nationwide litigation targeting opioid drug makers and distributors. The conviction has the potential to incite future successes in the thousands of pending lawsuits filed against pharmaceutical executives. At a minimum, it is a promising step in the U.S. government’s efforts to hold big pharma companies accountable for their contribution to the opioid addiction crisis.

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