The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is empowered to suspend the driver’s license or right to operate in Massachusetts of anyone who the Registry deems is an “immediate threat” to the motoring public. MassDOT can legally impose these immediate threat suspensions in some cases without grating the driver a hearing prior to the suspension. In these situations, you have a right to a hearing at the Registry of Motor Vehicles after the indefinite immediate threat suspension goes into effect and you have the right to be represented by a lawyer at that hearing.
If the immediate threat suspension cannot be resolved at a Registry hearing, you have the legal right to appeal the suspension to the Board of Appeal of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, which is located at 1000 Washington Street, Suite 810 in Boston, Massachusetts. Unlike Registry hearings, Board of Appeal hearings must be scheduled in advance and they are conducted in formal settings where procedural rules apply. If you are serious about getting your license reinstated, you should hire a lawyer and do not appear before the Board without one. Once your hearing is held, you will likely have a very difficult time getting any adverse decision reversed.
Immediate threat suspensions are indefinite in length. This means that you will never get your license back until either the Registry reinstates it after a hearing or the Appeals Board orders the Registry to grant you a reinstatement. Hardship licenses are not granted while immediate threat suspensions are in effect on the grounds that a driver who represents an immediate threat to public safety should not be on the road at all.
The Registry has wide latitude and discretion when it comes to immediate threat suspensions, but the Registry’s power is not limitless. I have successfully appealed and reversed immediate threat suspensions in a variety of situations. However, the general rule when it comes to these suspensions is that they will remain in place is if there are any pending criminal charges which would result in additional license suspensions upon conviction.
In cases where there are criminal charges, the immediate threat suspension is a “stopgap” measure designed to keep an allegedly dangerous driver off the road until the charges are resolved in court. A conviction will likely result in additional suspension time. However, simply because a criminal case is resolved in the defendant’s favor, the defendant is not automatically entitled to a reinstatement of his license. This is because the standard of proof of in a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt” and the Registry’s standard for immediate threat suspensions is much lower.
If you have received a letter from the Mass. RMV stating that your driver’s license is or will be suspended due to an immediate threat complaint, I urge you to contact me for a free consultation and review of your situation. I may be able to get the immediate threat suspension vacated and your license reinstated, as I have done in countless other cases.