Mass. Board of Appeal Revised Hearing Schedule

The Massachusetts Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance hears hardship license, ignition interlock, and Mass. License Suspensions Appeals. The Board has the power to reverse, modify, and annul decisions of the Mass. RMV. Unlike the Registry, the Board does not hear appeals on a walk-in basis. Instead, appeals must be filed in advance and hearings are scheduled based on the length of the suspension and when the appeal was filed. The Board hears approximately 6,000 license suspension and hardship license cases per year, many of which are complex and time-consuming.  The following is the Board’s hearing schedule:

  • 30 day license suspension appeals are heard approximately 2 weeks from filing
  • 60 days license suspension appeals are heard approximately 3 weeks from filing
  • 4-8 year license suspension appeals are heard approximately 12-14 weeks from filing
  • 10 year license revocation appeals are heard approximately 3-6 months from filing
  • Most other license suspension appeals are heard 6-10 weeks from filing.

There is nothing than can be done to expedite Board of Appeal hearings, so as to be fair to the thousands of people who file appeals each year.

 

CDL License Suspension Penalties

If you have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), there are strict rules and license suspension penalties which you should be aware of. Your CDL will be suspended for one (1) year for First Offense DUI, whether or not you were driving a commercial motor vehicle when you were arrested. Driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04 or more, leaving the scene of an accident, using a vehicle in the commission of certain felonies, and refusing a breathalyzer test will all result in a 1 year license suspension.

With the exception of driving with a BAC of .04 or above, it does not matter whether your were driving a commercial motor vehicle at the time of the offense.

Your CDL will be revoked for life if you are found to have committed 2 or more violations of any of the offenses listed above, arising from 2 or more separate incidents.

Convictions for certain drug offenses will also trigger a lifetime CDL revocation.

Convictions for multiple minor traffic violations and violations of out of service orders will also result in CDL license suspensions

Out of State License Suspensions

The Massachusetts Registry is required by law to revoke your Massachusetts License anytime your right to drive is suspended or revoked in another state. You absolutely cannot get a Mass. hardship license, work license, or a Cinderella license on an out of state revocation. In order to get your Massachusetts driver’s license back, you must obtain the following items from the other state and provide them at your Massachusetts License Reinstatement hearing:

  1. A certified copy of your driving record from the other state.
  2. A clearance letter on letterhead, from the other state’s Registry, Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. The letter should state that your right to operate has been reisntated and that you are clear to drive.
  3. If your license was revoked due to a criminal offense, such as DWI, DUI, OUI, DWAI, Drunk Driving, Reckless Driving, Operating to endanger, vehicular homicide, or a breathalyzer refusal, you will need a certified copy of the court docket from the out of state court where your case was heard. The docket should state the charges and the outcome.

All documents must be originals, dated not more than 30 days from your Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Hearing date. These documents will clear your National Driver Registry (NDR) indefinite suspension in Massachusetts. Your Mass. license will remain suspended unless and until your provide the above-listed documents to the RMV.

However, providing the above-listed documents to the Mass. RMV may trigger another license suspension. If you were licensed in Massachusetts or a Massachusetts resident at the time you were convicted of an out of state offense, the Mass. RMV is required by law to treat the offense as if it has occurred in Massachusetts. For example, if you committed a first offense out of state DUI, the Massachusetts Registry would revoke your license indefinitely until you met all of your obligations in the other state and provided the 3 documents listed above. Then Massachusetts would revoke your license for 1 year for having committed a First Offense DUI. In some cases, it is possible to get this one year revocation reduced to 45 days under the First Offender Program. Contact Attorney Brian E. Simoneau at 508-656-0057 or e-mail attorney@rmvappeal.com for more information.

New Fees for Appealing Traffic Tickets

As of July 1, 2009, if you are appealing a speeding or other traffic ticket, you must pay a non-refundable $25 filing fee. Although there is no mention of this fee on the citation, the fee is collected by the court at the time of the hearing. This means that even if you win the citation, you will have to pay. Because of this new fee, along the inconvenience of having to appear in court, many motorists will likely decide just to pay the citation. However, paying the citation is an admission of responsibility for the offense and not appealing can be a dangerous and costly mistake. If you have a combination of 5 citations (tickets) and accidents in a 3 year period, your license will be suspended until you take a National Safety Council driver retraining class. If you have a combination of 7 citations (tickets) and accidents in a 3 year period, your license will be automatically suspended for 60 days.  Additional citations can lead to a 4 year habitual traffic offender license revocation

RMV Ignition Interlock Violation Hearing Procedures

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has recently revised its Ignition Interlock Violation Hearing procedures. The new ignition interlock violation hearing process is explaiend below.

First, the ignition interlock service provider will notify the Registry of a possible violation as a result of data downloaded as part of the monthly monitoring and calibration visit. The Registry will then mail you an ignition interlock violation notice. The notice will describe the violation and reported BAC readings. The notice will also tell you the time and date of the alleged interlock violation.

The purpose of the interlock violation hearing is to determine whether the alleged violation actually occurred. The ignition interlock hearing is held pursuant to Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Regulations 540 CMR 9.00 CMR 9.00 and 540 CMR 25.11. At the hearing, you have the right to present your evidence and witnesses in rebuttal to the alleged interlock violation. You also have the right to be represented by counsel; however, you must accompany your counsel to the hearing. You may, at least two business days prior to the hearing, contact the Registry to ascertain the identities of any witnesses the Registry intends to have testify.

You are entitled to examine the documentary evidence, which will be used at your hearing in support of the alleged ignition interlock violation, at the Boston Registry of Motor Vehicles prior to or at the interlock hearing. At least two business days prior to the hearing date, the Registry requests that you fax, to the RMV Ignition Interlock Program Manager, any documentary evidence and memoranda which you will present at the hearing and the identities of any witnesses who will testify.

Ignition Interlock Violation hearings are recorded and the documentary evidence is preserved for review by the Board of Appeal or Superior Court. You will be defaulted if you fail to appear at the ignition interlock device violation hearing and a determination will be made at the hearing whether the violation occurred. If a determination is made that the violation occurred, the Registry will suspend your license pursuant to 540 CMR 25.11.

If you experience an interlock violation, you should document everything in detail and send a letter to the RMV explaining exactly what happened and why you beleive that you did not violate the ignition interlock law. This proactive response may avoid an interlock violation hearing. If you have questions regarding the Registry’s Ignition Interlock Program, pelase contact Attorney Brian Simoneau at 508-881-1119.

Mutiple Offender Caught with False License after Accident

On July 30, 2009, Thomas C. Plant of Rockland Massachusetts, who was awaiting trial on his 9th DWI offense, was involved in a minor car accident. A police officer who knew Plant responded to the accident and found him using a driver’s license with his photograph and address, but his brother’s name. Plant now faces charges of obtaining a false license, a felony which carries up to a 5 year state prison sentence under Massachusetts Law. Plante would likely have been caught eventually even if he had not been in the accident. The Massachusetts State Police use sophisticated facial recognition software which compares digital images of drivers to automatically identify individuals who have licenses under multiple names. Holders of these illegal licenses routinely get suspension notices from the Registry. Plant was charged with DWI as a result of the accident and his driver’s license was already suspended. If he is convicted, he will face an automatic suspension for violating the Massachusetts false license law

Repeat Offender Denied Hardship License

William Foley, Jr.’s license was revoked for 10 years for Vehicular Homicide after he caused an accident in 2001 which killed Christine Griffith, a 27-year-old mother from Randolph, Massachusetts. On Thursday, August 6, 2009, Foley appeared before the Board of Appeal to request a Massachusetts hardship license, which would have allowed him to drive for a 12 hour period each day. After a very emotional and highly publicized Board of Appeal hearing, where the victim’s family spoke out against putting Foley back on the road, the Board denied Foley’s request for hardship relief. The Board denied Foley, in part, because he did not have a legitimate hardship. He could use public transportation to get to work. The Norfolk District Attorney’s Office “strongly opposed to any reduction of the mandatory loss of license.” Foley was a multiple offender with 5 DWI incidents on his Massachusetts Driving Record. Since Foley’s conviction, the Massachusetts Legislature has amended the Vehicular Homicide law by increasing the license revocation period for Vehicular Homicide from 10 years to 15 years. 

Note: Mr. Foley was not represented by a Massachusetts Suspended License Lawyer.

25 Year old Woman Killed in Collision

In a very sad and tragic incident, a 25-year-old woman was killed in a head-on crash on Sunday, August 9th in Milton, Massachusetts. Allegedly a heroin addicted driver, who was allegedly operating a stolen car under the influence of drugs, tragically struck and killed Alison Regan, who was a teacher at the Boston Higachi School. Eric Lum, the driver, has been charged with motor vehicle homicide, operating under the influence drugs resulting in death, leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, larceny of a motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle without a license and possession of a class A controlled substance, heroin. This case illustrates the dangers of drugs and shows how important and difficult it can be to overcome addiction. This case is a true tragedy for the Lum family and especially the Regan family. If you are an alcohol or drug addicted person, please get help and do not drive.  

Arrested for DWI wiith 6 prior DWI Convictions

Jason W. Wetteland, 39, of Charlton Massachusetts plead not guilty in Newburyport District Court on Monday August 3rd to what was at least his 10th drunken-driving charge and 6th DWI conviction. He nearly struck another car while swerving across heavy traffic while he had a bottle of brandy between his legs. Under Melanie’s Law the incident caused Wettland’s license to be revoked for the rest of his life. However, when he was arrested, he was already driving on a suspended Mass. license. This incident shows what a powerful disease alcohol addiction is.

Mr. Wetteland obviously has a serious and untreated alcohol addiction. Because of his alcohol addiction, he appears to be someone who is too sick to drive. Critics of the Registry will undoubtedly point to this incident as a failure of the system. However, the Registry is not to blame and tougher laws or longer license suspensions would not have helped. The Registry had already suspended Mr. Wetteland’s license. He drove anyways. Perhaps if he was getting on-going treatment for his alcoholism, the result would have been different. Perhaps if Wetteland had an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle, he would not have been able to start it and the incident would have been prevented. Unfortunately, the political fallout form cases such as this can make it very difficult for someone with a couple of DWIs on his or her record to get a hardship license and support his or her family.

Mass. RMV Opens New Branch in Charlton

In an effort to save money, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is closing some of its branches and encouraging customers to use the Registry’s on-line system to avoid longer driving and waiting times. Many Registry transactions can be completed on-line, so that a trip to a Registry Branch is not necessary. We all like to hate the Registry and complain about cuts. However, Registrar Kaprielian implemented the cuts and branch closing in a very thoughtful way, so as to minimize public inconvenience while saving money. She had to cut her budget by $13 Million, and consumers are undoubtedly going to feel a cut that big. However, in keeping with today’s electronic era, she improved the Registry’s on-line transaction system so you can now get your Massachusetts Driving Record on-line and do other transactions which previously required a trip to the Registry.

Taking advantage of state owned property, Registrar Kaprielian closed some buildings which the Registry was renting and opened others in state-owed buildings, to avoid paying on-going rental costs. For example, on August 10, 2009, the RMV opened a full service branch in Charlton, MA on the Mass. Turnpike. This move saves the $60,000.00 per year by allowing the RMV to close the Southbridge branch. Times are tough and this seems like a smart move. The new RMV branch can be reached by Route 20 or from the eastbound lane of the Mass. Pike.

Remember if your license is suspended or revoked or you are trying to get a Massachusetts Hardship License, you will need to see a Registry Hearing Officer. You can only go to certain Registry branches which hold license suspension and revocation hearings.