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Immediate Threat Suspensions in Massachusetts

Helping You Protect Your Driving Privileges

If the Mass. Registry receives information indicating that your continued operation of a Motor Vehicle in Massachusetts would result in an immediate threat to public safety, the Registrar has the right to immediately revoke your driver’s license for an indefinite period of time. The purpose of this procedure is to promptly remove a driver from the roadway if he or she has been determined to represent an immediate threat to the safety of the public. MassDOT indefinitely revokes approximately 1,500 licenses each year under the immediate threat law.

Immediate threat suspensions are not confined to driver’s licenses. This means that the RMV can revoke your vehicle’s registration if a hearings officer determines that continued operation of the motor vehicle would pose an immediate threat to public safety. If you are facing an immediate threat suspension, don’t hesitate to reach out today. Contact The Law Office of Brian Simoneau, P.C. by calling 508-665-2995.

Why Was My License Indefinitely Suspended?

The RMV can impose an indefinite immediate threat license suspension upon receipt of information that the driver’s continued operation of a motor vehicle creates an immediate threat to public safety. The law allows the Registry to immediately suspend the customer’s license even before a hearing is held.

The two most common reasons people receive immediate threat suspensions are:

  • A police officer determined that you were not safe to operate. This may happen as a result of a car accident where you were at fault, and they suspect drugs or alcohol may have been involved. It could also happen in a case of erratic or negligent operation.
  • A physician has formed the opinion that you have a medical condition that makes it unsafe for you to continue driving a vehicle.

What Does Immediate Threat Mean?

Under Massachusetts law, a driver will have their license suspended indefinitely if they “Commit a violation of the motor vehicle laws of a nature which would give the registrar reason to believe that continuing operation by such holder is and will be so seriously improper as to constitute an immediate threat to the public safety.M.G.L. c. 90 Sec. 22(a).

A hardship or “Cinderella” license is not available for drivers who have an immediate threat suspension. The reason that hardships are denied for this type of suspension is because the DMV has determined that any operation by the driver poses an immediate threat to the public.

The Immediate Threat License Suspension Process

In situations involving immediate threat medical suspensions, the driver must present medical evidence showing that he or she is safe to operate. At a minimum, the Registry requires that a physician completes medical clearance paperwork, which may include psychiatric, medical, vision, and loss of consciousness clearance forms. The submission of these forms does not automatically entitle the driver to reinstatement. A hearing officer will review the documents and decide whether to reinstate with or without a competency road test. Even if a medical professional declares the customer safe to operate, the Registry is legally entitled to independently determine fitness to operate. Anyone aggrieved by an adverse determination has the right to retain counsel and appeal. Legal assistance from an Immediate Threat Suspension Lawyer can be invaluable.

Indefinite immediate threat suspensions and revocations are not punitive, which means that they are not intended as punishment for bad or dangerous driving. Instead, the purpose of these suspensions is to protect the public by removing an allegedly dangerous driver from the roadway until the Registrar of Motor Vehicles is satisfied that the driver does not present a danger to public safety.

How Do I Get My License Back?

The first step is to consult with an attorney who handles cases before the RMV and Board of Appeals to discuss your specific case. I specialize in these types of cases.

Next, you will have to appear before the RMV to appeal the suspension. If you have a pending court case connected to the suspension, the RMV will not rule on your appeal. They will advise you to come back after your court case is resolved. The Hearing Officer may make preliminary recommendations regarding steps to take to increase your chances of reinstatement. However, the Registry will not reinstate from an immediate threat revocation while criminal charges are pending. In those situations, you will have to go through the reinstatement hearing process when the criminal case is resolved, and reinstatement is by no means automatic, even if the criminal charges were dismissed or the defendant was found not guilty.

Getting the criminal charges dismissed or a not-guilty verdict does not mean that the immediate threat license suspension will go away. The standard of proof in criminal court is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and the standard of proof at the Registry is the preponderance of the evidence, which means “more likely than not.” Also, RMV hearings are administrative in nature, and the technicalities associated with criminal court proceedings do not apply. Finally, these suspensions are not designed as punishment. Instead, they are supposed to protect the public from an allegedly dangerous driver. Thus, even if the criminal case was resolved in your favor, you will still have to fight to get your license back.

In some cases, it makes sense to appeal an indefinite immediate threat revocation directly to the Board of Appeal. Where to go and what path to take depends on the facts and circumstances of the individual case.

You do not always have to wait until your case is resolved in court before attempting to get relief. You can appeal to the Board of Appeals in some situations, even while the case is pending. These situations are the rare exception. The process involves sending an appeal form and fee to the Board and requesting a hearing date. Your hearing will typically be scheduled at one of the Board locations. Your attorney will advise you as to what steps to take prior to your hearing. Additionally, your attorney will prepare a memorandum of law explaining why you should have your driver’s license reinstated.

What Should I Do if My License Was Suspended?

If your license was suspended due to an immediate threat complaint, you should not operate a motor vehicle. A conviction for Operating After Suspension can lead to jail time and will result in an additional 60-day license suspension. Also, the Board of Appeal does not look favorably on operating after suspension incidents. An arrest for driving on a suspended license may also make it difficult to obtain a hardship license from the Registry. One of the RMV’s requirements for hardship licenses is that there is no evidence of operation since the license suspension was imposed. This means that even if you were not actually convicted, the fact that you were cited or arrested can be held against you.

Mass. RMV Lawyers have successfully handled numerous immediate threat suspension cases, getting our clients back on the road with their licenses fully restored. A license reinstatement might be just a phone call away. At The Law Office of Brian Simoneau, P.C., we specialize in beating RMV hearings. Get in touch today by calling 508-665-2995 to see how we can help.