Immediate Threat Revocations: 2 Signatures Required

The law gives Massachusetts Police Officers the power to immediately suspend your driver’s license, simply by faxing an “immediate threat report” to the Driver Control Unit of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. Upon receipt of an immediate threat complaint, the Registry will immediately issue a notice of suspension and shortly thereafter, the driver’s license of the person named in the report will be suspended indefinitely.

The purpose of the Registry’s immediate threat revocation procedure is to promptly remove dangerous drivers from the road. However, this process can be abused. I recently handled a case where a 22 year old woman, with a clean record, was the subject of an immediate threat complaint. I got her license restored by appealing the immediate threat revocation to the RMV Board of Appeal and I was able to convince the Board members that the suspension was invalid.

Because immediate threat reports result in the immediate loss of driving privileges, the form is required to be singed “under the penalties of perjury,” a serious felony. Also, the form requires not only the signature of the police officer requesting the immediate threat revocation, but also the signature of the Chief of Police or other person authorized to sign the form. This 2 signature requirement is assumedly designed to prevent a single police officer from having the authority to immediate revoke someone’s driver’s license. Pursuant to the two signature requirement, a Police Chief or other ranking officer designated by the Police Chief to approve the immediate threat suspension request is supposed to review the facts and circumstances of the case to insure that the immediate threat suspension procedure is not being abused.

In the above-described case, the officer requesting the suspension signed the form both as the officer filing the report and as the supervisor. He did so in such a way as to disguise the fact that a single officer signed the immediate threat form in both places. After a full evidentiary hearing, the woman’s license was promptly reinstated and the Registry did not charge the $500.00 immediate threat reinstatement fee. The two signature requirement is something to be aware of when dealing with immediate threat license revocations.