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Mass. RMV Imposes Lifetime Suspension for Breathalyzer Refusal

Massachusetts Registry News

I just received an e-mail from an individual who has 4 DUI convictions on his record. He refused  to take the breathalyzer when he was arrested, because the police officer administering the breathalyzer told him that he would lose his license for 5 years if he refused. This is legally incorrect; the Massachusetts DUI law states that a chemical test refusal with 3 prior convictions for operating under the influence (OUI) automatically results in a lifetime license revocation.
The individual who will never hold a driver’s license again, for the rest of his life, had an opportunity to challenge the breathalyzer refusal. However, his appeal must have been filed with the Registry of Motor Vehicles within fifteen days of his chemical test refusal suspension. Now, the courts are without jurisdiction to entertain his appeal. Furthermore, the RMV Board of Appeal states that it does not have jurisdiction to hear chemical test or breathalyzer refusal appeals, as they must be appealed first to the Mass. RMV and then to the district court.

Under the current system, this gentleman is without any legal recourse. The Registry will not allow him to file a late appeal and neither the courts nor the Board of Appeal will afford him relief or even a hardship license. Instead, he must suffer through a lifetime loss of license. Some may say that this is a just result. However, given the general lack of public transportation in Massachusetts, it is extremely difficult to support a family and survive without being able to drive, at least on a limited 12 hour basis. An ignition interlock device would protect the public by preventing this individual from starting his vehicle if he had been consuming alcohol. Nevertheless, under the current Massachusetts DUI laws, this man will never again hold a driver’s license. 

Faced with such a dire situation as never being able to hold a driver’s license, many people ask if they can move out of Massachusetts and apply for a driver’s license in another state.  Unfortunately, the National Driver Register and the Problem Driver Pointer System, a computerized nationwide database which connects the RMV with Motor Vehicle Departments across the country, will prevent this. His license record will be flagged and he will not be able to obtain a license in any other state without clearing his record with the Mass. RMV, something that will not happen.

If the gentleman now saddled with a lifetime license revocation had appealed the breathalyzer refusals suspension within the 15 day period established by law, it is likely that he could have avoided the suspension. Being provided with misinformation by the police and deciding to refuse the breathalyzers based on inaccurate information is grounds for reversal of the license suspension. This case illustrates how important it is to contact a Massachusetts DUI Lawyer immediately, so that your legal rights can be preserved and protected.

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