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Work/School Hardship License: Eligibility and Application Process in Massachusetts


Losing your driver’s license can be a tremendous burden. It’s unfortunate, but just one mistake can interfere with your ability to work, go to school, run errands, and a variety of other life necessities. The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) recognizes this reality, and that’s why you may be eligible for a work/school hardship license in Massachusetts.

However, it’s important to remember that these limited-use licenses are not considered a right. You must meet certain requirements to attain one. Additionally, there will be strict rules regarding how, when, and where you can drive. Still, eligibility for a Massachusetts hardship license may be an important step in avoiding the most severe consequences of suspension.

Work/School Hardship License Eligibility in Massachusetts

It’s difficult for a blog to explain the eligibility criteria for a hardship license — sometimes also referred to as a “Cinderella License.” That’s because the requirements to qualify will depend entirely upon the circumstances of your situation. For instance, individuals convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence (OUI) may need to take an alcohol education class or install an Ignition Interlock Device.

While many eligibility standards differ based on the reason for your suspension, everyone hoping to receive this limited-use license must show a “hardship.” Simply put, they’ll have to prove that not being able to drive will cause significant difficulties in their lives. If granted, the license will set specific hours that the person can drive and specify locations they’re allowed to drive to. Speaking with a Massachusetts OUI lawyer will help you understand your options.

Applying for a Hardship License in Massachusetts

The best way to learn whether you’re eligible for a hardship license in Massachusetts is to apply for one. However, it’s important to understand if issuance of a license is unlikely. For instance, those with a lifetime revocation, multiple OUI offenses, or out-of-state convictions are more likely to be turned down. If you are eligible for a restricted license based on hardship, though, here’s how you apply:

  • Schedule a hearing: You’ll first need to review hearing sites and schedule a hearing.
  • Gather documents: You’ll need to gather documentation. Necessary documents will vary based on why your license was suspended.
  • Pay required fees: Fees for a hardship license range from $100 to over $1,000.
  • Attend hearing: This may be done in person or over the phone. You have the right to have an attorney represent you.
  • Provide additional information: RMV hearing officers may need additional information after your hearing. Make sure to provide it.
  • Meet requirements: You might be told that certain requirements (e.g., Ignition Interlock installation) must be met for issuance.

Remember: meeting all the requirements for a hardship license in Massachusetts doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be issued a license. The RMV has reasonable discretion in these cases. This is why you should speak with a Boston OUI attorney before starting the process. They can help you build your case.

What if You Don’t Qualify for a Hardship License?

It cannot be overstated: hardship licenses are a privilege, not a right. As such, you may be denied relief during a hardship license appeal. Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done at this point. The Board of Appeal may grant a new hearing, but they are not required to do so. This is why it’s so important to speak with an attorney first. A legal professional can help you build the strongest initial case.

While appealing a hardship license denial has been difficult historically, Boston drivers may have additional avenues. That’s because a recent court decision found that around 27,000 Massachusetts OUI convictions from 2011 to 2019 may have been based on faulty blood alcohol tests. If you were convicted during this period, you may be able to get a new trial. This could result in your suspension being rescinded entirely.

Can You Avoid a License Suspension in the First Place?

Meeting the eligibility requirements for a hardship license is great. However, avoiding the need for hardship hearings in the first place is much more ideal. If you found this page because you’re facing the prospect of a license suspension, there may still be time to avoid such an outcome. Fighting criminal charges can help you avoid losing your license at all.

Of course, not all license suspensions are due to criminal charges. If you’ve lost your license for any other reason (e.g., medical issues), you have the right to appeal. No matter your situation, speaking with an attorney may be in your best interest. Contact us today at The Law Office of Brian Simoneau by calling (508)-625-5776.

We can help with hardship license eligibility, criminal defense, suspension appeals, and more.

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