Appealing a Breathalyzer Refusal Suspension

If the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles suspended or revoked your driver’s license or right to operate, you have the right to contest the Registry’s action, but you must follow certain procedures, otherwise, you will lose your right to appeal.

In these refusal appeals, there are generally three questions which must be addressed. First, did the arresting police officer have reasonable grounds to believe that the person arrested committed the crime of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol? Second, was the person actually placed under arrest for DUI? Third, did the person refuse to submit to a breath or blood test after having been told that his or her license or right to drive would be suspended for a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of life?

Also, the police are required to follow certain procedures when documenting a breath test refusal and the failure to follow those procedures might result in a successful suspension appeal.

You must personally appear for your breathalyzer refusal appeal hearing between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. within fifteen days of your drunk driving arrest. Because only a few hearing officers are authorized to conduct Chemical Test Refusal hearings, they are only held at the Boston RMV Branch, which is located on the third floor at 136 Blackstone Street in Boston, Massachusetts. These hearings are held on a walk-in basis and you must personally appear. You have the right to present any witnesses, documents, or other evidence you wish to have the Registry consider. There is no provision in the law for any extension of the 15-day appeal period, and no letter, phone calls, or other communications to the Registry will extend the appeal period beyond 15 days or to grant a hearing at any location other than the Boston RMV Branch. However, once your initial refusal hearing is opened, it is possible to appear for a follow up hearing and to present initial evidence, while the record remains open.

You have the right to be represented by a lawyer at these hearings and this is strongly recommended, especially if you are facing a 3-year, 5-year, or lifetime refusal suspension.