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The Division of Insurance Board of Appeal

Massachusetts Registry News

The Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance has the legal authority to order the Registry of Motor Vehicles to issue hardship licenses in cases where the Registry has refused to do so or where the law does not specifically allow for a hardship license. The Registry will only issue a hardship license for DUI, habitual traffic offender, and drug-related license suspensions. There is provision in the law for hardship relief in cases where a driver has a 60 day suspension for 7 surchargeable events. Likewise, there is no express provision in law authorizing the issuance of a hardship license for license suspensions triggered for many other reasons such as theft of concealment of a motor vehicle, false license, fake ID, minor in possession, operating to endanger, operating uninsured, or driving on a suspended license. However, the broad powers conferred upon the Board of Appeal allow it provide hardship relief. The Board does not provide any form of hardship relief for suspensions related to the non-payment of state taxes, child support, excise tax, parking tickets, fast lane violations, or traffic tickets. These obligations must be paid prior to getting reinstated and there are no exceptions.

In addition to granting hardship licenses in cases where there is no express legal provision authorizing their issuance, the Board has the power to grant licenses in cases where the Registry has initially refused. For example, the Mass. RMV requires DUI 2nd offenders to complete a 14 day in-patient alcohol program prior to considering the DUI offender for a hardship license. The RMV Board of Appeal is not bound by this requirement. Therefore, the Board of Appeal may be a viable avenue to get a driver who has a legitimate and substantial hardship back on the road, even when then RMV has said no.

Obtaining a Massachusetts Hardship License from the Board of Appeal is not easy. The Board carefully scrutinizes each case and makes inquiries regarding two key areas: risk to public safety and need to drive. Those who have a bona fide, verifiable, and substantial need to drive can be considered for a 12 hour license which is issued because of a need related to work, education, or medical issues. Absent a legitimate need to drive for one of these three reasons, the Board will not grant a license. Moreover, the Board will absolutely not grant a license where doing so would endanger the safety of the public. The Board members carefully screen each Appellant to insure that granting a license will not jeopardize other drivers. In DUI and alcohol-related cases, for example, the Board demands evidence to show that there is a low risk of recidivism or relapse. This is crucial and the more DUI arrests appearing on a driver’s record, the more documentation the Board will require. Getting a hardship license is not an easy task and the Board denies large numbers of hardship license applicants, most of whom make the mistake of appearing unprepared and without a Board of Appeal Lawyer.

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