Arrest Warrants and License Suspensions

If you fail to appear in court in Massachusetts when you are required to do so, a judge may issue a warrants for your arrest. When this happens, the Clerk-Magistrate’s Office will notify the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the RMV will automatically suspend your driver’s license and/or right to operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts. Once this happens, you will not be able to get your driver’s license or right to operate reinstated until the arrest warrant is recalled by the court.

If you have moved out of state, you may be denied licensure in your new state due to a NDR block on your license record. Also, if you have already obtained an out of state license, it may be suspended due to the Massachusetts suspension which was triggered by the issuance of a warrant. Finally, you may be denied renewal of your license by your home state motor vehicle department because of the Massachusetts arrest warrant.

In most, but not all cases, if you have a Massachusetts arrest warrant for a minor offense, you will not be arrested if you are stopped by the police outside of Massachusetts. On the other hand, if you are stopped in Massachusetts, you will be arrested “on the spot.” This is because an arrest warrant is basically a legal command from a judge to the police to arrest the person named in the warrant and bring him or her before the court to answer to criminal charges.

There is no “statute of limitations” which allows you to remove the warrant without addressing the underlying court case and warrants do not expire. Instead, they will remain in the system until they are recalled by a judge. Unless this occurs, your Massachusetts license will remain indefinitely suspended.  If your license was suspended due to the issuance of an arrest warrant, absolutely no hardship license of any kind will be issued.

Some people mistakenly believe that their driver’s license is automatically reinstated once the warrant is recalled by the court.  This is not true. Once your license is suspended, you go to the RMV and pay the required reinstatement fee prior to driving. Simply taking care of the warrant does not reinstate your right to drive.

My office has extensive experience in dealing with license suspensions, especially for out of state clients who have NDR blocks. Please contact me if you need assistance. If you need help clearing a warrant, I can refer you to a criminal defense lawyer who can help you.

Registry Imposes Lifetime CDL Revocation for DUI & Prior Refusal

TT_UNITToday I received this inquiry from an employer of a CDL holder:

I have a rather simple question (I think) regarding one of my employees, who is a truck driver in Massachusetts. He was charged with a DUI several years ago, went to court and it was declared not guilty. A few years later he was charged again with a DUI and it was declared continued without a finding (CWOF). To my understanding, with this background, he should have been able to get his CDL back a year after the later offense (where the first was Not Guilty). The RMV is telling him he has lost it for life. Just wondering if you could shed some light on this for me and him. I appreciate your time! Thank you.

The answer:

I suspect that the Commercial Drivers License Holder refused to submit to a chemical test in connection with his first OUI incident. Under both Federal Law and G.L. c. 90F Section 9, which is the Massachusetts law governing CDL penalties, suspensions, and disqualifications, a breath test refusal counts as a disqualifying incident. The only exception to this rule is that if the DUI and breathalyzer refusal occur in the same incident, it will be counted as one triggering violation. Here, I suspect that the truck driver refused to take the breathalyzer and the Registry is rightfully counting this refusal as one triggering event. The not guilty verdict does not prevent the Registry from counting the refusal against him. If he got the chemical test refusal suspension overturned by appealing to the judge who presided over the DUI trial, he may have a chance to get relief by going before the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance. However, it appears in this case that no such judicial relief from the breathalyzer refusal suspension was granted.

When the CDL license holder admitted that there were sufficient facts for a conviction, was assigned to an alcohol education program for drinking drivers, and had his OUI case continued without a finding, this counts as a second triggering event which would generate a lifetime revocation of his Commercial Driver’s License.

Appealing a 5 year Chemical Test Refusal Suspension

Here’s a situation involving a 5 year breathalyzer refusal suspension.

I’m contacting you to seek your assistance in getting my license reinstated, at least  to some degree if possible. Living and working without the ability to drive is very challenging under these circumstances.

My story is as follows: Nearly a year ago to the day I was pulled over. The police officer walked up to my window as I was searching for my valid registration. It wasn’t located in the glove box as I had needed it for insurance purposes earlier in the week. The officer mentioned this in her police report as me talking away from her which was not the case at all. Upon locating the valid registration in my center console the officer took my ID and asked if I had been drinking to which I replied I had a couple. She went back to her vehicle returning however a short time later.

At that point she asked me to step out of my vehicle and led me away from the scene to a darker area on a slope. Still not knowing why I had been pulled over in the first place she immediately began conducting a field sobriety test. She began to explain the walk, pivot and return test of which I completed without issue. This was the first point where I noticed the officer’s irritation.

She then began the eye test asking me to follow her pen. I obliged however her irritation rose when she kept yelling to me to follow the pen. I was following her instructions however the pen was pulled out of my peripheral view negating my ability to look at it without moving my head. As she completed this test my irritation of the situation rose as the officer was rude and unprofessional.

She explained the final test, I had to raise my leg up 6 inches and count of by 1000-s until she told me to stop. I carried through to 18 and stopped out of frustration that the officer was obviously just going to leave me hanging up there. She yelled at me again for stopping so I resumed until she stopped the test several seconds later. At this point my frustration level was at its peak. She led us back to our vehicles where she instructed a second officer to ready the roadside breath test to which I said don’t bother. Whether that was the right thing to do or not didn’t matter at the time as her un-professionalism and rudeness left me frustrated.

She then arrested me for DUI and at that time I asked her why she pulled me over. She said for marker light violation. Which is a complete fabrication as all the lights on my vehicle were operational at the time. At the station I was not given the option of taking the breathalyzer, not provided with any explanation as to the consequences of not doing so and no documentation for me to sign off on refusing. I was released on PR as soon as booking was completed. I ended up finding out the next day the suspension would be 5 years long.  As there was no mention by the officer of blood shot eyes, slurred speech, unsteadiness on my feet, odor of alcohol, etc. I wasn’t sure the exit order was valid or legal however my attorney didn’t seek suppression during pre trial. My case at any rate was dismissed this past May as the arresting officer had been terminated from the department for her mishandling of dui arrests. Based upon my view of the exit order I wanted to appeal to the registry however by the time I got the hearing notice from my Post Office Box, the 15 day period had since expired. I hadn’t realized there was a limit at the time to which to appeal.

My life a year later has changed profoundly as I am embarking on a new career and bringing a child into the world both of which require my ability to drive.

The Answer:

You can challenge your breathalyzer refusal suspension only between 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. within fifteen (15) days of your DUI arrest. The Registry only conducts breathalyzer refusal hearings at the Boston Branch which is located at 630 Washington Street and scheduled to move to 136 Blackstone Street in September of 2014. You do not need an appointment for a chemical test refusal (CTR) hearing.  You must appear in person and you have the right to be represented by a lawyer. You can present any witnesses, documents, or other evidence you wish to have considered. Once the hearing record is closed, you cannot present any additional evidence. The law does not provide for any extension of this 15 day appeal period, and no letter, phone calls, or other communication to the RMV will serve to extend the CTR appeal period beyond the 15 days or allow for a hearing to be conducted at any location other than the Boston Branch of the Registry.

Unfortunately, absolutely no hardship licenses or Cinderella or work licenses are authorized by law during a breathalyzer refusal suspension unless he Operating Under the Influence charge has been properly and legally resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D, which applies only to first offenders or “second chance first offenders.” Melanie’s law requires that the CTR suspension is served prior to any resulting DUI suspension. This means that the suspensions are served consecutively and not concurrently.

In the case listed above, the only recourse is to petition the District Court Judge who presided over the OUI trial for a return of the driver’s license, because the OUI charge was dismissed. There is a presumption in favor of returning the license, but it is not automatic. There is no other way to appeal the suspension so long after it was imposed and there is no possibility of a hardship license.

Reckless Driving in Virginia Triggers Massachusetts Suspensions

VIRGINIAIf you are the holder of a Massachusetts Driver’s License or you are a Massachusetts resident, the Registry will treat any motor vehicle violations which you commit as if they had occurred in Massachusetts.  This may cause you to have your license suspended or revoked in Massachusetts for an offense which does not carry any loss of license in the state where the offense occurred.

For example, in the State of Virginia, if you exceed the speed limit by 20 MPH or you travel at a speed greater than 80 MPH, you can be found to have committed the offense of Reckless Driving. There is no automatic license loss associated with this offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In Massachusetts, however, a reckless driving conviction will trigger an automatic 60 day license suspension for a first offense.

I have recently received numerous calls and inquiries from Massachusetts residents who have been cited for reckless driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These unsuspecting motorists have paid reckless driving citations, not knowing that their licenses would be suspended in Massachusetts. In each of these cases, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles notified the Mass. RMV of the reckless driving citations and payments. These notifications have triggered automatic 60 day license suspensions. The motorists appealed the suspensions to the Suspension Unit of MassDOT and in all cases, the hearings officers have upheld the suspensions based on the out of state violations. The only recourse in these situations is to appeal the suspensions to the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Unlike the Registry, the Board of Appeal does not conduct hearings on a walk in basis. Therefore, the motorists will likely have to serve at least some of their suspensions prior to getting their “day in court.”

Likewise, the offense of careless driving in the State of Florida will also trigger a reckless driving suspension in the State of Massachusetts and the Registry has consistently upheld these suspensions, forcing the aggrieved appellants to seek relief from the Board of Appeal.

Caught in a Catch-22 Between States

The Situation:

I have run into a situation from the state of NM and am not sure if I need a lawyer to fix this now or not. I got a DUI in 2006 in the state of Florida. I paid all my fines, took the schooling required, went through the entire process,and got my normal license back in Florida. I then moved to NM several years later. After not so much as a parking ticket for five plus years.

When arriving in NM almost 6 years after my offense I was told I would have to surrender my license again and have an interlock device installed due to state laws. I complied had the device added to my vehicle for the “1 year period” at a substantial cost, after nine months of having it in my car, I had to move to Massachusetts due to my other half being moved for work. I called the DMV to get guidance, they directed me to someone in charge of the interlock system in the state. I have her name written down, but for now I guess not important. She stated I would have to pay the interlock company the remainder of the year, have it removed and then not drive my vehicle for the remaining time. She told me they would not release my license until the year was up and I would have to have my car towed to Massachusetts and not drive at all until May 15th 2014. I did that at a cost of over $2200.00, it was the law (double jeopardy if you asks me), I complied. She stated at the end of a year I would have to pay a fee to NM of 100.00 to have my license reinstated. At the end of the year I paid the fee and had my license reinstated I thought.

I went to the DMV here in Massachusetts and they had me get my driving record from NM so they can process a license for me. NM states I am clear and can fly there and get a new license, but they can not remove the restriction for interlock though they say I have done everything correctly and am able to get a license. They say the system will not allow them to remove the restriction but I am clear to get a license. Massachusetts DMV says they can not process license without the restriction being removed and the two agencies were literally arguing over the phone with each other. MA says they should just remove the restriction and NM says the system does not allow that, I would have to fly back there and get my license renewed there then move out of state.

This has been a nightmare from the start. I am no longer a resident of NM and in order to renew my license there, I would have to purchase a round trip plane ticket, then I would have to lie and state I am a resident, however they will not allow my license to be reinstated in another state or remove the restriction, even through I have completed the year and done everything thing they have asked. I am lost as to what to do next. What I would like to do is sue the state of NM for all my time and energy lost and for “Double Jeopardy” though I am sure they have some justification as to why they are able to penalize a person who has already paid the price once, with a law they created to be backwards compatible, and create more funds for their broke down state.

Is this the kind of situation you handle? What kind of costs would be associated with getting this fixed? For this same DUI offense I have now paid in the state of Florida to the tune of approximately $9000.00, the state of New Mexico six years later, to the tune of another $4500.00 including the interlock installation, check ups removal and towing of my vehicle, fees and state gouging. It appears I will now have to hire an attorney because the two states can not agree on how the system works, both sides agree I should be able to get a license and both blame the other for the reason that its not able to be processed.

The Answer:
MassDOt does not have this record blocked in the NDR and there is no suspension in effect in Massachusetts. Therefore, this person should be able to get a license in his state of residence. He is not IID required under Massachusetts law, because he only has one (1) operating under the influence conviction.

Prior DUI Convictions Will Count Against You

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a prior DUI conviction could dramatically increase any resulting breathalyzer refusal or DWI license suspension. Massachusetts has a lifetime look-back and the prosecution will check multiple sources for prior DUI convictions or assignments to a drug or alcohol treatment program, which count just like convictions.

Prosecutors in Massachusetts operating under the influence (OUI) cases are likely to check computerized records, court files, your Massachusetts driving record, probation record, County and Municipal Court records, as well as DMV databases for any prior offenses.

A prior offense may disqualify you from being treated as a first offender and multiple DUI convictions will substantially increase the length of your DUI and/or chemical test refusal suspension, as well as the waiting period which you must serve prior to being considered for a hardship driver’s license.

In some cases, the prosecution will not be able to prove a prior offense “beyond a reasonable doubt” during the criminal DUI trial. This does not mean that the Registry of Motor Vehicles cannot consider that prior offense when calculating the length of your license revocation or when deciding if your will be ignition interlock required.

If you have been arrested for DUI and you have any prior offenses, you should disclose them to your lawyer as soon as possible. Also, out of state offenses count the same as those committed in Massachusetts. Basically, any prior DUI conviction or assignment to a program will count, regardless of when and where it happened.

Driving on a Suspended License Q&A

Situation: In January I got pulled over for driving with a suspended license.  The reason I was doing so was that I was never informed that my license was suspended.  I found out that it was due to lack of payment on a previous ticket that I had tried to pay but had done so improperly.  I was likewise never informed that the payment never went through.  I went to court and the charge was dropped for driving with a suspended license, but the suspension is still on my record.  The day after I got pulled over, I went to the RMV and paid all necessary fees and got my license reinstated, which shows that I want to do the right thing and would have just paid the initial fee properly had I known that it did not go through.  The suspension on my license has made my insurance incredibly expensive, and so I need to appeal the suspension because I was never informed that it was happening and certainly would have done what was necessary to avoid it.

Answer: Since the charge of operating after suspension was dismissed, there is no way that it is generating an insurance premium increase. Here, the driver wants to have the fact that her license was suspended for four months removed from her driving history. This is impossible. The Registry is legally required to maintain complete and accurate records. Accordingly, the RMV will not erase, purge, or expunge items from someone’s driving record. The record shows that the Clerk-Magistrate denied the complaint application on the suspended license charge and that cannot be used against the driver for insurance purposes.

Mass. Driving Record Q&A

Situation: In January I got pulled over for driving with a suspended license.  The reason I was doing so was that I was never informed that my license was suspended.  I found out that it was due to lack of payment on a previous ticket that I had tried to pay but had done so improperly.  I was likewise never informed that the payment never went through.  I went to court and the charge was dropped for driving with a suspended license, but the suspension is still on my record.  The day after I got pulled over, I went to the RMV and payed all necessary fees and got my license reinstated, which shows that I want to do the right thing and would have just paid the initial fee properly had I known that it did not go through.  The suspension on my license has made my insurance incredibly expensive, and so I need to appeal the suspension because I was never informed that it was happening and certainly would have done what was necessary to avoid it.

Answer: Since the charge of operating after suspension was dismissed, there is no way that it is generating an insurance premium increase. Here, the driver wants to have the fact that her license was suspended for four months removed from her driving history. This is impossible. The Registry is legally required to maintain complete and accurate records. Accordingly, the RMV will not erase items from someone’s driving record. The record shows that the Clerk-Magistrate denied the complaint application on the suspended license charge and that  cannot be used against  the driver for insurance purposes. Unfortunately, the law requires that the payment default suspension remain on the driver’s record.

No Mass. License Reinstatement without Class

My license has been suspended due to the fact that I failed to complete the driver retraining program on time. I was ordered to take this class after I had received 3 tickets within 2 years for a bad sticker. One of which was my mother’s car. Then the year after I didn’t have the money right away to fix what I needed to get a sticker for my car right away. When I finally did get up the money the day I was taking the car to get fixed for the sticker I got pulled over. Then once again, I got stopped shortly after that driving my fiancé to work at 5am. I don’t believe I should have to take this course for having a bad sticker. It wasn’t a matter of reckless driving or speeding. It was a matter of not having money to fix my car for the sticker.  I don’t know if this is a mistake, it doesn’t seem fair.

Unfortunately, once you are required to take the class for accumulating surchargeable events, there is nothing that I can do. The law is clear and reinstatement orders from the Board of Appeal contain the following provision:

If you have not addressed: outstanding fines/fees related to the return of your motor vehicle license (ex: moving violations, excise tax, parking tickets, etc.); a requirement to complete a National Safety Council course; or reinstatement requirements for any out of state motor vehicle license suspension/revocation, any modification or issuance of a motor vehicle license by this Board will not be effective unless and until these requirements are satisfied.

You must take the class in order to get your license reinstated.

Mass. RMV Social Security Number Requirements

LICENSE_FRAUDIn order to obtain a Massachusetts Driver’s License, Learner’s Permit, or hardship license, you must submit satisfactory proof of your age, signature, and Massachusetts Residency which meets the Registrar’s document standards.  You also must provide a valid, legitimately obtained, Social Security Number which the Registry will electronically validate with the U.S. Social Security Administration. The Social Security Number which you provide to the Registry must match your name in the Social Security Administration’s records.

Due to homeland security concerns, the Mass. RMV is very cautious about issuing driver’s licenses and it will not issue a license when there are questions about the applicant’s true identity. The Registry places the burden on the person seeking the license to meet the identification requirements. The Registry’s requirement to provide a valid Social Security Number has been challenged and upheld by the highest appellate court in Massachusetts.

The Mass. RMV will not accept an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) as a substitute for a valid and legitimate Social Security Number. An ITIN is a number issued by the United States Government to individuals who are not able to obtain social security numbers but are required to file federal taxes with the Internal Revenue Service. ITINs are for federal tax purposes only and have nothing to do with obtaining a Mass. Driver’s License.

Your Social Security Number will not appear on your driver’s license, hardship license, Registry ID card, or learner’s permit.

There is an exception to the Social Security Number requirement. That is if you have a legitimately issued SSN Denial Letter issued by the U.S. Social Security Administration and proof of an acceptable visa classification. For example, you cannot get a Mass. License with a denial letter and a B-1, B-2 , or B1-B2 multiple visa, as these are tourist or business visas. Your SSN denial letter must be accompanied by proof of an acceptable visa status as well as an I-94 (Record of Arrival and Departure), and a valid Passport from your country.

If you have questions regarding Massachusetts Driver’s licensing requirements, please contact Attorney Brian E. Simoneau for more information.