If you are required to attend a hearing at the Driver Control Unit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles due to a driver’s license suspension, revocation, or reinstatement, you should be aware of your legal rights and responsibilities.
The most important legal right that you have at a Massachusetts Registry Hearing is the right to be represented by a lawyer. Registry of Motor Vehicles regulations specifically provide that a person who is undergoing a Registry Hearing has the right to be represented by counsel. Unless your personal appearance is waived by the hearing officer, hiring a lawyer will not excuse you from attending the hearing. However, given the complexities of the license suspension and reinstatement process, having the right lawyer represent you and advocate for you can be extremely beneficial.
Registry hearings can be recorded, so long as the recording does not interfere with the hearing. If the customer elects to record the hearing, the customer is responsible for any fees and expenses associated with the recording and, upon request, a copy of the recording must be provided to the Registrar at the Registrar’s expense. State regulations govern the cost of transcripts. The Registry electronically records all ignition interlock violation hearings, which can result in 10-year license revocations.
You are entitled to present documentary evidence to the hearing officer and you have the legal right, during normal business hours, to examine and copy documentary evidence in the Registry’s possession.
You have the right to call witnesses, cross-examine adverse witnesses, and to testify on your own behalf. At least 2 days prior to your hearing, you have the right to discover the identities of any adverse witnesses. Subpoenas may be issued in accordance with G.L. c. 30A § 12. The standard of proof used at RMV hearings is the civil preponderance of the credible evidence standard, which is much lower than the criminal “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.
When the evidentiary record is closed, the Registry is required to issue a decision within 10 business days. This does not necessarily mean that the Registry is required to render a decision within the 10 day period immediately following the actual hearing. The Hearing Officer is allowed to keep the record open for the receipt of additional evidence and documentary evidence which may come from police departments, courthouses, motor vehicle departments in other jurisdictions, or various other sources. The 10 day period does not commence until the record is closed.
If you are aggrieved by an adverse decision of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, in accordance with G.L. c. 90 § 28, you have the right to appeal by going before the Division of Insurance, Board of Appeal. The Board has the power to reverse, modify, or vacate any RMV decision. Legal representation is strongly recommended.