Complaint Immediate Threat Indefinite Suspensions: MV Violation Required

The Massachusetts Immediate Threat Law, G.L. c. 90 § 22(a), allows the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to suspend a driver’s license or revoke a vehicle’s registration “whenever the holder thereof has committed a violation of the motor vehicle laws of a nature which would give the registrar reason to believe that continuing operation by such holder is and will be so seriously improper as to constitute an immediate threat to the public safety. “ Thus, for the RMV to impose a “Complaint Immediate Threat” indefinite suspension, the report must allege that the driver violated the motor vehicle laws.

In some cases, police officers may have requested immediate threat license suspensions in the absence of an automobile law violation. In these situations, the immediate threat suspension should probably not have been imposed. Understandably, the Registry is proactive in suspended licenses of those who are reported to be a danger to public safety and most immediate threat suspensions are warranted, at least initially. However, there are some cases where imposing the license suspension violates the letter of the law.

Immediate threat suspensions have been ruled legal and constitutional. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that “wide discretion is vested in the registrar as to the revocation or suspension of licenses of persons who operate motor vehicles on the public ways, but his discretion is not to be exercised arbitrarily or without regard to the purpose for which his authority to revoke or suspend is granted.” Wall v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles, 329 Mass. 70, 73 (1952).

Dealing with “Complaint Immediate Threat” suspensions can be confusing and extremely frustrating. If you find yourself having to fight one of these suspensions, representation by competent and experienced counsel is critical. Contact me if you need help. I have obtained license reinstatements for immediate threat suspensions, for a number of clients, at both the Registry and appellate levels.