How to Prepare for a Mass. Hardship License Hearing

Massachusetts DUI Law allows for the issuance of limited 12 hour work or hardship licenses for the purposes of allowing a DUI offender to get to work, school, or medical appointments. Hardship licenses are also available for certain other Massachusetts license suspension such as those imposed for 7 surchargable events, drug convictions, and being a habitual traffic offender. In some cases, it is possible to get a hardship license by going before the Registry of Motor Vehicles. In other cases, the hardship license applicant must go to the RMV Board of Appeal. The Board is an administrative agency which has the power and authority to reverse, modify, or annul any decision of the Registrar.

I continue to see numerous clients who try to represent themselves at the Massachusetts RMV Board of Appeal denied hardship licenses for simple and preventable reasons. In this post, I will explain the importance of pre-hearing case preparation, so as to increase your chances of getting a Massachusetts hardship license from the RMV Board of Appeal.

First, it is important to realize that you are appearing before the Board of Appeal because there is something about your case that prevents the Mass. RMV from issuing you a hardship license. Maybe you have an extensive driving record, have not completed the required alcohol program, have not served enough time, have a license suspension for which the RMV cannot grant you a hardship license or some other reason prevents hardship relief at the Registry level. If this is the case, you should carefully prepare for your Board of Appeal hearing. Appearing before the Board of Appeal unprepared can result in the Board voting to affirm your license suspension with no re-apply date. If this happens, you may be forced to serve the whole suspension and you may not be able to get a hardship license.

First, it is absolutely essential to obtain and carefully review your driving record. Ideally, this review should be done by a Massachusetts DUI Lawyer or lawyer specializing in hardship licenses. Driving records can be difficult to understand, especially when the reader might not know what to look for. Any outstanding parking tickets, excise tax, traffic citations, speeding tickets, and other financial obligations must be paid prior to getting your license back and they should be paid in advance of your Board of Appeal hearing. Outstanding items such as these may reflect poorly and harm your chances of success.

Secondly, any outstanding National Driver Registry (NDR) out of state issues must be cleared. The Board of Appeal does not grant relief on Massachusetts suspensions imposed because a Massachusetts license holder has had his or her license suspended in another state or jurisdiction. Proof of clearance should be admitted at the time of your Board of Appeal hearing. You must also submit this to the Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles from thirty (30) days from the date of issuance.

Third, the Board of Appeal will generally not hear your hardship license appeal if you have open and unresolved criminal cases which involve the operation of a motor vehicle or would cause your license to be suspended or revoked upon conviction. You should wait until open cases such as this are resolved. In most instances, this also applies to pending traffic tickets or citations. When a ticket is issued in Massachusetts, it is reflected on the recipient’s driving record. It will show as “incomplete” until the ticket is paid or resolved in court.

Fourth, you must make sure that you have served enough time to be considered for a hardship license. In second offense DUI cases, you must serve one year of the 2 year loss of license. In 3rd offense OUI cases, you must serve 2 years of the 8 year license suspension, and in 4th offense DUI cases, you must serve 5 years of the 10 year revocation. Habitual traffic offenders must serve at least 1 year of the 4 year revocation and you must serve ½ of the suspension time if your license is suspended for a drug conviction.  Going before the Board too soon may hurt your chances of success.

Finally, those trying to get a hardship license from the Board of Appeal must present required documentation showing a legitimate need to drive and that putting the driver back on the road with a hardship license will not jeopardize public safety. It is advisable to include letters of recommendation, proof of employment, proof of completion of drug or alcohol programs, and a letter from probation or parole.

Following the advice contained in this post may increase your chances of success at the RMV Board of Appeal. However, one of the best ways to increase your chances of success is to hire a qualified Massachusetts DUI lawyer or license reinstatement attorney.