Massachusetts’ drunk driving law may not apply to people who have overimbibed and are driving drunk in campgrounds, gated communities or some college campuses, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled today (April 30).
The court overturned the conviction of a man for driving drunk on the roadways inside a Salisbury campground in June 2007. The court noted that the drunk driving law applies to places to “which the public has a right to access” or can access as “invitees or licensees.”
The court noted that there was a gate to the campground, saying that fact was “of great significance,” according to The Boston Globe.
“The evidence established that no motorist approaching the entrance to the campground could suffer any illusion that he was welcome to enter the campground and drive on its roadways. … In the present case, registered campers and their guests have access to the ways within the campground, but members of the public who have not acquired that status do not,” the court said in a four-page opinion written by Judge Mark V. Green.
“We recognize that our conclusion may call into question whether the statute covers roadways within private ‘gated communities,’ gated private resorts, or even some college campuses,” the court said. But the court said the law plainly “by its terms is directed only to ways accessible to the public.”
“We will not treat as superfluous words of limitation the Legislature has included in a statute, or add words to a statute beyond those the Legislature has chosen to include,” the opinion said.