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Recidivism Evaluation Required for DUI Hardship License Hearings

Massachusetts Registry News

Hardship licenses are not automatically issued and neither the RMV Appeal Board nor the Registry will grant a hardship license unless there is evidence that the driver’s alcohol issue has been addressed. Therefore, one of the key documents which the Board of Appeal looks for in hardship license hearings for second and subsequent DUI offenders is a discharge summary or alcohol program evaluation which contains risk of recidivism or relapse. This is a key document in hardship license hearings before both the Driver Control Unit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.  This document is important because the Board and the Registry carefully consider the risk to public safety associated with putting a repeat drunk driver back on the road.

Unfortunately, not all hardship license candidates have substance abuse evaluations that contain the candidate’s recidivism classification or risk of relapse. In these cases, I advise my clients to meet with a licensed drug and alcohol counselor (LDAC) for the purpose of obtaining an evaluation.  At a hardship license hearing, the Board of Appeal will accept an alcohol assessment from a private LDAC in cases where the Cinderella license applicant does not have a discharge summary from the aftercare component of the 14-day second offender DUIL program or the 90-day in-patient program for DUI third offenders.The 90 day program must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Alcoholism evaluations contain information regarding the candidate’s drinking history, family background, prior criminal record, recovery efforts, history of treatment, attitude, motivation level, stage of change, treatment recommendations, current drinking and sobriety status, abstinence record, number of DUI offenses and prior drunk driving convictions and, in some cases, results of random breathalyzer tests and urine screenings.

Although discharge summaries and LDAC reports are critical in hardship license hearings for DUI second, third, and fourth offenders, they must be accompanied with other documentary evidence such as proof of a substantial hardship and need to drive as well as evidence of some on-going alcohol treatment or program in place to prevent relapse. The successful hardship license client will be active in Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon, the Smart recovery program, or some other ongoing alcohol treatment.

Hardship licenses are difficult to obtain and it is critical to go into a hardship license hearing with as much documentary evidence as possible. The evidence must address the risk of relapse and the need to drive. Being represented by an attorney who specializes in hardship license hearings is can dramatically increase your chances of getting a Massachusetts hardship license and avoiding a painful denial.

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