I was arrested more than a year ago for operating under the influence in Massachusetts and I refused the breathalyzer. I had previous offenses (one dismissed and one CWOF) from 30 yrs. ago. My current OUI case was dismissed in September. However, after dismissing the charges, the judge would not reinstate license. I have a hearing date with the board of appeals to try and reinstate my license

Answer:

Unfortunately, the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal will not help you in this situation. Appealing a judge’s denial of a motion to reinstate is a waste of your money and the Board’s time. In cases such as this, the Board has taken the position that it does not have the jurisdiction to hear appeals of this nature. The Board rationale is that G.L. c. 90, § 24(1)(f)(1) sets forth a statutory procedure for relief and that procedure is for the person seeking a driver’s license reinstatement after having been found not guilty of DUI or after having the DUI charges dismissed to appear before the judge who heard the operating under the influence case pursuant to a motion for license reinstatement.

Under Massachusetts law, when a person whose license was suspended due to a chemical test refusal is found not guilty of the drunk driving charges or the DWI charges are dismissed, the defendant is entitled to have a hearing on the reinstatement of his license and the termination of the breathalzyer refusal suspension. There is a presumption at this hearing that the person’s license should be returned unless the prosecution can convince the District Court Judge that reinstating the license would jeopardize public safety.

Although the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance has the legal authority to overrule any decision of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, the Board is of the opinion that the above-listed procedure is the sole mechanism to pursue the return or a driver’s license after the favorable resolution of a DUI case and it will not hear suspension appeals in situation such as this.

From a practical standpoint, the Board of Appeal is rightfully concerned with public safety and that consideration is paramount in hardship license appeals. Since your motion for reinstatement was denied, the Commonwealth must have convinced the District Court Judge that returning your to the roadway would not be in the best interest of public safety and the Board of Appeal is highly unlikely to overrule this decision, which was made by a judge who assumedly heard the facts of the case and reviewed your driving and criminal history records.

In recent years District Attorney’s have been more vigorous in their oppositions to license reinstatements and judges seem to be more reluctant to order reinstatements in cases where the defendant has multiple DUI events on his or her record.

If the judge denied your motion to reinstate without prejudice, then you can refile the motion once you have undergone alcohol treatment, counseling, and probation supervision sufficient to demonstrate that any alcohol issues have been brought under control. If the motion was denied with prejudice against refiling, your only recourse is to have your lawyer file a motion for reconsideration of the denial decision. This must be filed in accordance with the standards and requirements set forth in the Massachusetts court rules.

A Court Order for License Reinstatement is necessary because in Massachusetts, being found not guilty of OUI or having the OUI charge dismissed does not automatically reinstate your license or driving privileges which have been revoked due to a chemical test refusal, which is an administrative suspension not directly tied to the outcome of the criminal case.