One Man’s Struggle to get a Mass. Hardship License

Below are excerpts from a letter sent to the Board of Appeal from a hardship license applicant who was twice denied hardship relief by the Board. Finally, with my assistance, the Board granted him an ignition-interlock restricted hardship license. This client’s letter to the Board shows how important it is to be prepared for your hardship license hearing and how difficult it can be to get a hardship license

I was up in Plymouth last Tuesday before the Board of Appeals to request a hardship license after a little over three years into my suspension for a second offense dui conviction I received September 7th 2007. This was the second opportunity I’ve had to come before the Board and make my case and the second time it’s all gone horribly wrong for me. First let me say that I realize this letter, coming days after the ruling is more than likely pointless. It’s just something I feel like I have to do. The impression I know gave in those 5 minutes was in such stark contrast to the way I’ve approached this whole ordeal for thirty eight months and particularly the last year and a half. I really do have a lot of stuff going on, working in my favor and I really believed, this time around, I had taken the necessary steps and that I deserved to be issued the hardship license that is so critical to me. But last Tuesday I did hardly anything to present that to the three reviewers. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to get a reply pointing out that I had weeks to prepare for this hearing and that the procedure is the same for everyone who comes before the Board. Also I can safely assume the same three who handled my appeal do so for many others and have little or probably no time to revisit a guy from last week who claims to have cracked under pressure.

Between all the counselors, volunteers, court officials, probation officers and other second offenders I met at the various programs and courts etc, no two people it seemed ever gave me the same answer about how long I had lost my license for. My lawyer, charged me $1500 and clearly explained I would be getting my Cinderella license in 1 year after my arrest and my full one in two. So when the registry laid the time table out in front of me when I first went to set up a hearing, I was awestruck to see it was actually 5 years before I could get my full license.

When I called my ex-lawyer upset over what I had just learned, he just shrugged it off saying something along the lines of “sure you have to be approved by the Board before you get the Cinderella but everyone gets it after a year.” I knew I had been mislead even lied to but I still believed him about the hearing and how it was pretty much automatic if you brought the required paperwork. Unfortunately, that belief led me to misinterpret a form from the registry where you’re given space to write essentially something like this but 100 times shorter. I don’t have it in front of me but as I recall, it asked me to make a case for myself why I should be granted a work license and at the time I took that to mean “Why do you need to drive?” rather than “what have I done to convince the Board I’ve changed my ways and deserve to drive” or why do I deserve to drive?”. I focused my argument on all the wrong things. When I finally arrived for my hearing 18 months into the suspension, I was supremely confident complete with all the documentation, local bus schedules, certificates of completion, payment slips, and letters from employers and POs etc. I even told my coworkers I’d likely be back by the summer. Thus the Board’s questioning caught me a bit off guard and I was furious when I heard what my review from Tewksbury said. I was disappointed the letters etc I spent months compiling were just glanced at, but now I assume there are looked at after the hearing when a decision is reached. One Board member told me “well, we’ll see what we can do” but looked at me in more of a “don’t get your hopes up manner”. I had so much anticipated getting my life back on track and everything seemed to rely on that license (though only a fraction as much as it does now.) I was beyond devastated at the prospect of another what turned out to be 18 months before I could be heard again.

My biggest error before this time (up until 3 weeks ago) was overconfidence, or the assumption that I would be driving again by Thanksgiving. I again seemed to misinterpret what was expected of me as I felt my first rejection letter was basically stating “not yet but stay out of trouble for another 18 months and you’re good ,” I called to schedule this last hearing the day I was edible and instead of taking 6 months to hear back like the first time it was only 3 weeks. I thought I would be able to just walk in and verbally explain in a couple minutes some of what I’ve written and provide another letter from my employer, this time explaining how I was one of the top guys there now and it would be a done deal.

Essentially, when I came in last Tuesday for that hearing I was already defeated. The pressure got to me and I had almost nothing to say defending myself when the Board began bringing up reasons why I should be issued a hardship license. The format of the hearing killed me too.

Fortunately, this story has happy ending and I was able to convince the Board to grant hardship relief.