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RI Man Charged With 9th OUI

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Vernon Perry answering his 9th OUI charge in Taunton District Court, Monday, December 6.

Vernon Perry answering his 9th OUI charge in Taunton District Court, Monday, December 6.

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BOSTON (CBS) — A Rhode Island man with eight OUI’s under his belt was charged again in a Massachusetts courtroom on Monday.

Around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, Vernon Perry, 52, of East Providence, was allegedly speeding and weaving in and out of his lane on Taunton Ave. when an officer pulled him over.

Perry was allegedly driving 52 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone into Massachusetts on Taunton Ave.; authorities also allege he was crossing the yellow lines.

Perry’s vehicle was impounded.

Perry has eight prior impaired driving offenses on his record, but still has a valid license.

In Massachusetts, drivers can lose their license after a fifth OUI offense.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports.

PERRY’S HISTORY

During Perry’s arraignment Monday at Taunton District Court, Attorney James Hassan, the court-appointed lawyer who handled Perry’s bail hearing, told WBZ that Perry “understands what’s going on. He’s not happy he’s being held … But he understands what’s going on.”

Perry’s long history with OUIs goes back to the 1980s, when he was cited half-a-dozen times.  He was also convicted twice more in 2001, but at that time the state wasn’t allowed to look two decades back in his record and see his prior encounters. 

As a result, Perry lost his license for four years, getting it back in 2006.

MELANIE’S LAW

It’s the same old story to Ron Bersami.  His granddaughter is Melanie Powell, the 13-year-old killed by a drunk driver in 2003.  The tougher drunk driving penalties in Melanie’s Law are named after her. 

When he heard about Perry’s case, Bersami knew the repeat offender was able to stay on the roads of the commonwealth because the laws allowed it.

“He didn’t get caught at a time when they could’ve looked back and done something about it,” says Bersami.

But as of 2002, thanks to a change in state law independent of the changes brought about by Melanie’s law, state officials are able to use a driver’s entire history when it needs to.

RMV RESPONSE

WBZ asked Ann Dufresne, Senior Communications Advisor at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, about this story. 

“We don’t comment on individual cases,” she replied via e-mail.  “But we can say the RMV exercised its full authority at the time of each conviction for OUI. The state now has the authority to look back over the lifetime of a driving record which we have done in this case, revoking [Perry's] license for a lifetime.”

Perry is now being held without bail.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong contributed to this report.

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