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The Necessity Defense in Mass. Operating After Suspension Cases

Massachusetts Registry News

Lawyers can sometimes use the necessity defense to get not guilty verdicts for their clients in operating after suspension cases.  The necessity defense can be claimed in cases where someone whose license is suspended has an extremely compelling need to drive, such that driving on a suspended license is the lesser of the harms.

For example, in the case of Commonwealth v. Lora, the defendant drove on a suspended driver’s license for medical reasons. He suffered from numerous medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, poor circulation, and high blood pressure. When he was stopped by the police, he claimed that he was in extreme pain and on the way to the drug store to get more prescription pain medication.  He was unable to afford a taxi, his roommate did not drive, and his friend refused to transport him. He drove only as a “last resort.”

In cases such as this, the necessity defense is available to the defendant. A good lawyer can use this defense to exonerate his or her client when the harm resulting from the violation of the law is significantly less than the harm that compliance with the law would cause. In order to sustain a conviction, when the necessity defense is invoked, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a lack of justification.


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