Breathalyzer Refusal Suspension Hearings

If the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has suspended your operator’s license, permit, or right to drive because of your alleged refusal to submit to a chemical test or analysis of your breath or blood, you may request a breathalyzer refusal suspension hearing at the Mass. RMV Driver Control Unit, which is located at the Boston office of the Registry of Motor Vehicles. You only have fifteen (15) days from the date of suspension to appeal. You are legally entitled to be represented by a lawyer at this chemical test refusal suspension hearing.

At your CTR hearing, the RMV hearings officer will create and compile hearing record, which will include any testimony you give or evidence which you submit. It is your responsibility to include any and all relevant testimony in written form.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles hearing officer assigned to conduct your breathalyzer refusal suspension hearing will examine the CTR Report, which is sent to the RMV by the arresting police department, to determine if it meets certain legal requirements. The RMV is entitled to a reasonable period to obtain the breathalyzer refusal report and any associated documents.

If after analyzing the CTR Report Refusal, the Registry hearing officer determines the legal requirements have not been met, he or she is required to immediately reinstate your license. A properly trained and experienced DUI lawyer can also analyze the report to see if it meets the legal requirements under the Massachusetts chemical test refusal law.

If the Registry hearings officer determines that the breathalyzer refusal report meets the legal requirements for such refusals, the burden will shift to you to prove that the answer to one of the following three (3) questions is “no.” (1) Did the police officer have reasonable grounds to believe that you were committing the crime of DUI alcohol? (2) Were you placed under arrest for operating under the influence of alcohol? (3) Did you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test?

The Mass. RMV hearings officer is allowed to leave your hearing record open to receive and obtain further evidence regarding any one of the 3 questions listed above. You have the right to review this additional information and to rebut it prior to the conclusion of the breathalyzer refusal suspension hearing. The Registry is legally required to render a decision within 10 business days of the conclusion of the suspension hearing.

Under Melanie’s Law, chemical test refusal suspensions range from 180 days for DUI first offenders, who are 21 and older, to lifetime for DUI 4th offenders. DUI Second offenders who refuse the breathalyzer will have their licenses suspended for 3 years and DUI 3rd offenders who refuse will lose their licenses for 5 years. These CTR suspension periods are in addition to those imposed if the person who refuses is convicted of operating under the influence. Given these stiff penalties, many people fight their breathalyzer refusal suspensions.