Mass. Hardship Licenses Not Automatically Granted

Many people who have their license suspended or revoked for DUI, Habitual Traffic Offender, drug convictions, or any of the other 64 reasons to lose your license in Massachusetts do not realize that there is no automatic right to obtain a Massachusetts hardship license, whether from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles or the RMV Board of Appeal. Instead, hardship licensing is discretionary and the denial of a hardship license from the Board of Appeal is next to impossible to win at the superior court level.

One of the primary reasons that a Massachusetts hardship license is denied is because the appellant failed to show a legitimate and substantial hardship which would warrant relief. The Board of Appeals considers the granting of a hardship license “extraordinary relief” that is to be awarded only on a strong showing of a legitimate and substantial hardship, which was not contemplated by the legislature when the license suspension laws were enacted.
In order to meet this hardship standard, it must be shown that the lack of a license has severe consequences such as the documented inability to get to work, school, or necessary medical appointments, with such inability causing more than an inconvenience.  If, for example, a hardship license applicant has the means to get to work by relying on family and friends, he or she will not be granted relief. Likewise, if a person seeking a hardship license can take public transportation to and from work, he or she would be denied a work license.

The best way to prove that you have a hardship is to provide the Registry or the RMV Board of Appeal with documentation which clearly explains your need for a license. Depending on your type of hardship, this documentation should come from your work, school, or physician. In addition to discussing your need to drive, it should state that public transportation will not suffice and briefly explain why. You can also demonstrate this by including bus, train, and/or subway routes, schedules, and maps. When it comes to hardship license documentation, more is definitely better.

Also, it is possible to apply for a hardship license on more than one ground. For example, if you need a hardship license to get to and from both work and medical appointments, you should provide documentation regarding both needs. Finally, it is important to note that even if you provide that you have a legitimate and overriding need to drive, you must further demonstrate that you do not present a risk to public safety. Both the Registry of Motor Vehicles and Board of Appeal carefully and thoroughly consider whether issuing a hardship license would endanger the public.  If these agencies are not convinced that a hardship license applicant is safe to drive, they will not grant hardship relief. A Massachusetts RMV Lawyer can increase your chances of success, at both the RMV and Board of Appeal.