I recently received this e-mail from a truck driver who was arrested for drunk driving in an unknown community in Massachusetts.

On 3/12/12 I was arrested for an OUI. When I got to police station for the breathalyzer test, they told me that if I refused I would only lose my license for 180 days. I did have one back in 1991 they told me that it was not on my record anymore. I do have a lawyer and she said nothing I can do I will lose CDL for life and license for 3 years. I am already losing my house. Now I am employed for a town as a mechanic and about to be let go.

This situation illustrates the importance of hiring the right DUI lawyer. His attorney should have appealed the chemical test refusal suspension on his behalf. I say this because in order for a breathalyzer refusal suspension to be valid, the person arrested for drunk driving who refuses to submit to the breath test must have been informed that his license will be taken for a minimum of 180 days, up to lifetime. If the police fail to inform DUI offender of this prior to asking him or her to take the breathalyzer, the suspension can be overturned. However, the breathalyzer refusal suspensions of this nature can only be appealed to the Registry of Motor Vehicles at 630 Washington Street in Boston within 15 days of the suspension.

In this case, no appeal was filed within the statutory 15 day appeal period. Therefore, the CDL driver cannot appeal. This means that he will have to serve a 3 year suspension of his Class D License and he will have a lifetime revocation / disqualification of his commercial driver’s license (CDL). This case illustrates the importance of hiring a good DUI lawyer who understands the laws governing license suspensions and reinstatements. Also, under federal law, there is no ability to get a CDL hardship license.