Many Massachusetts drivers who have been convicted of certain drug offenses are surprised to learn that their convictions will result in automatic license suspensions, even when the Massachusetts drug charges have absolutely nothing to do with driving or a motor vehicle. Some unfortunate drug defendants learn about these suspensions, for the first time, after they plead out. Many would not have do ne so, had they been aware of the consequences of their guilty pleas.

The good news is that the law allows for hardship licensing in drug suspension cases after the driver has served ½ of the suspension time. These hardship licenses, however, are not automatically granted. Instead, the driver must convincingly prove that he or she has any substance abuse problem under control and that he or she is not using illegal drugs.

In Massachusetts drug suspension cases, hardship licenses can be obtained from the Mass. RMV only where there are no prior drug convictions on the applicant’s record, which the Registry hearing officer will thoroughly review. In cases where there are previous drug offenses, a hardship license can only be obtained by going to the RMV Board of Appeal.

In any drug hardship license case, the applicant should present documentation in the form of clean drug screen reports, evidence of completion of a drug program, documentary evidence showing the need to drive, and evidence of attendance at NA, AA, Alanon, or some type of on-going self help and/or counseling program. Proof of compliance with probation should also be presented. The Registry has strict requirements such as 3 clean drug screens, spaced 30 days apart, conducted during the 90 day period immediately prior to the RMV hardship license hearing.

At the Board of Appeal hardship license hearing, the applicant must be prepared to explain the charges on his or her criminal record. The applicant must also be able to candidly discuss the facts and circumstances surrounding his or her drug arrest. In making this presentation, hardship license applicants should be mindful of the 2 central issues in every Massachusetts hardship license case: likelihood of recidivism and need to drive.