The Board of Appeal and its Authority
Pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 28, the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance has broad powers and expansive authority to overrule determinations made by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and to override Registry guidelines regarding hardship licensing, suspensions, revocations, and ignition interlock matters.
In fact, in a 2011 decision, the Superior Court ruled that the law confers upon the RMV Appeals Board, “overarching authority to affirm, modify, or annul any decision of the Registry.” The Superior Court correctly observed that anyone who is aggrieved by a decision or ruling of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles has the right to appeal the RMV ruling or decision to the Board of Appeal. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that the Registry Board of Appeal can even override mandatory license revocations. The Board's decisions are subject to review in Superior Court. However, the Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds’ decision whether to grant a hardship license is “purely discretionary.” This generally means that a “finding and order” from the Board of Appeal is usually the final and not subject to reversal, when it comes to approving or denying someone for a hardship license in Massachusetts. The RMV Appeals Board can consider hardship, but it is required to grant a hardship license even if a legitimate hardship exists.
The Board is comprised of three (3) members, one designated by the Attorney General, one designated by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, and a Chairperson who is designated by the Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance. Each Board member has one vote coming before the Board and it takes a 2/3 majority to overturn a license suspension or get a hardship license.
The Board has the power to administer oaths, order the production of documents and things, take testimony, subpoena witnesses, and cause depositions to be taken. The Board can seek enforcement of its orders by the court system.
The Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations is located at 1000 Washington Street, Suite 810, Boston, Massachusetts. In addition to holding hearings at its Boston Office, the Board also holds hearings in various locations throughout Massachusetts such as the Marlborough District Court.