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DUI 1st Offense Hardship Licenses

Hardship Licenses

The Clerk’s Offices of Massachusetts Trial Courts are legally required to notify the Registry of the outcome of all cases involving automobile law violations, including negligent operation, operating under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving. When the Clerk-Magistrate’s Office notifies the Registrar of Motor Vehicles of a conviction or alcohol program assignment, mandatory license suspensions are automatically generated.

These mandatory license suspensions are based on the defendant’s driving record, prior offenses, the disposition of the case, and the law. When it comes to license suspensions, it is not uncommon for the Registry to treat a defendant more harshly than the court. This is based on differing standards of proof and suspensions based on prior offenses, which may have been inadmissible in court. There’s lifetime lookback in Massachusetts when counting priors.

The RMV has the authority to issue hardship licenses in certain limited circumstances. In other situations, hardship licenses can be obtained by going before the Board of Appeal, where being represented by a lawyer is highly recommend.

A hardship license entitles an individual to operate a motor vehicle for an identical 12 hour period, each day, through the period of suspension or revocation. You must apply for a hearing in order to be considered for a hardship license from the RMV.

For first offense DUI cases, consideration for hardship licenses is limited to situations where the records of the Registrar indicate that a first offense DUI disposition pursuant to G. L c. 90, § 24D was legally appropriate. At this 1st offense hardship license hearing you must, at a minimum, provide documentary evidence showing that you have been enrolled in a Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) approved “OUI First Offender’s Program,” and have documentation establishing that you have a legitimate need to drive for work, school, or medical reasons.

Hardship licenses are not available from the RMV if you have other suspensions or revocations affecting your license or right to operate, other than a chemical test refusal or failure associated with your 1st offense DUI case. In some situations, if you have multiple suspensions, the Board of Appeal can grant you a hardship license.

You may apply for a hardship license hearing at one of the following RMV Service Centers: Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, Pittsfield, South Yarmouth, Springfield, Wilmington and Worcester. Hearing days vary by location and are subject to change without notice, you should check the Registry’s website for a current heard schedule.

If the Registry of Motor Vehicles denies you hardship license, you have the legal right to appeal that denial to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, Board of Appeal. This Board has the authority to overrule the Registry’s denial. Legal representation is strongly recommended.

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