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How Does Massachusetts Address Immediate Threat Suspensions for Drivers with Medical Conditions?

Immediate Threat Revocations

What Is an Immediate Threat Suspension?

In Massachusetts, the Registry of Motorized Vehicles (RMV) has the legal ability to suspend someone’s driver’s license if they believe that driver poses a threat to public safety. They can revoke a learner’s permit, driver’s license, vehicle registration, or the right to operate a vehicle. The word “immediate” operates here as you’d expect–it means the RMV can revoke those rights at once, and the revocation can be for an indefinite period. This is usually done after being requested by state or local police.

There are several categories of immediate threat suspensions. One of those is immediate threat medical. These are cases in which the RMV determines that someone has a medical condition that puts their driving at risk, putting the public in danger, and it’s an immediate threat.

This is different from a complaint medical suspension, in which the driver may have a risky medical condition. Immediate threat medical involves a driver known to have a dangerous medical condition. This may be requested by law enforcement, but medical professionals also request it.

What Situations Can Lead to an Immediate Threat Medical Suspension?

There are essentially two categories of situations that can cause law enforcement or medical professionals to request an immediate threat medical suspension.

  • Car accident. If a driver was in a car accident and first responders suspect the driver may have lost consciousness or behaved in an unusual way, and an underlying medical condition may have caused either of those, they could ask for the suspension.
  • Known medical conditions. There are many medical conditions that can cause this type of suspension. That includes anything that affects someone’s ability to drive, whether physically or cognitively, such as epilepsy, neurological conditions including multiple sclerosis, or vision loss. 

What Causes the RMV to Issue an Immediate Threat Medical Suspension?

Whether it’s law enforcement or medical personnel making the request, the RMV tends to err on the side of caution and is likely to act quickly upon receiving information that someone may have a medical issue that’s putting other drivers at risk. Once the decision is made, they’ll suspend the person’s license and send them a notice of the action in the mail.

It’s crucial to understand that once the suspension is issued, there’s no end date. There’s no option to apply for what’s known as a hardship license, in which someone can claim that they need to be able to drive to go to their job, etc. The only way to get the license unsuspended is to go through the RMV or the Board of Appeals.

What Does it Take to Have the Immediate Threat Medical Suspension Removed from My License?

The RMV takes these suspensions seriously and will not lightly remove them. Because it can be complicated to pursue, it’s highly recommended that you work with an experienced immediate threat suspension attorney to help you through the process for your best chance of success.

It’s likely that multiple forms of paperwork will need to be filled out. There will also need to be a corroborating document from a medical professional stating that they believe the driver is not currently a risk to other drivers. Which forms need to accompany the medical statement vary according to the medical reason behind the suspension.

Once the paperwork is compiled, you’ll need to meet with a hearings officer at the RMV. This can be complex, as not every RMV has hearings officers on-site, and those that do may not have regular hours. They don’t make appointments. Arriving early can help prevent a long wait.

The hearings officer will examine the documents you provide and review the reasons for the suspension. They have the authority to lift the suspension that day, but they may also deny the suspension or order you to return with additional information.

What if My Application to Remove the Immediate Threat Medical Suspension Is Denied?

You have the option of appealing the denial to the Board of Appeals. The Board is comprised of three people who will review your case and all related documents before making a decision. The Board takes this work seriously and has high expectations for proving your case, which is another reason it’s vital to work with an attorney who has experience in appealing suspensions.

To move the appeal forward, you’ll need to pay a fee (currently $50) and set up a hearing, which is usually a few weeks in the future. At the hearing, you must be prepared to present documentation from medical professionals stating you’re safe to drive, along with any relevant information such as related medical tests and records or completed classes.

What Should I Do if I Need Help with an Immediate Threat Medical Suspension?

Call the Law Office of Brian Simoneau as soon as possible at 508-665-2995 to request a free case review. Being able to enjoy the freedom to drive yourself to work, shopping, visit friends or family is something many people take for granted until it’s no longer available to them.

It’s especially frustrating when you feel the suspension was done in error or your request to have it removed was incorrectly denied. I’m experienced in immediate threat suspension cases, I understand your frustration, and I will go through the specifics of your case to determine what approach might lead to the best possible outcomes.

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