I was recently contacted by a successful local business owner who was stopped and cited for driving on an expired license. He immediately renewed his license, went to court, and paid a $100.00 fine. A few days after his court appearance, he received a letter from the Registry of Motor Vehicles notifying him that his license would be suspended for 60 days because he was convicted of driving on an expired license. In my combined 26 years as a police officer and lawyer, I had never heard of such a thing and he was never advised of this consequence by the court.
I had the shocked motorist send me a copy of the letter and it was true. The letter states, “you are hereby notified that effective 12/29/2018, your license/right to operate a motor vehicle is suspended for 60 days because of a disposition pursuant to MGL, Unlicensed Operation of a MV, c. 90 § 10.”
The Registry had really suspended his driver’s license for 60 days for unlicensed operation. There is absolutely no statutory authorization for this suspension. I thought it must be a “computer error.” With the Registry’s implementation of its new computer system called “Atlas,” some strange things have been happening and I figured that this must be one of them. I contacted the Driver Control Unit and I was told that this was no mistake. The Registry of Motor Vehicles is now intentionally suspending licenses for those who have been convicted of unlicensed operation, a relatively minor violation.
I appeared before a Registry Hearing Officer and she refused to terminate the suspension. She explained that the Registry is now suspending for unlicensed operation and no relief from the loss of license was available at her level.
I brought my client to the Board of Appeal and I submitted a 12-page legal memorandum outlining why the suspension should be annulled. The Registry’s lawyer attempted to justify the suspension.
I fully expect that the Board of Appeal will be issuing a Finding and Order annulling the suspension and instructing the Registry to immediately reinstate my clients license. The annulment of this harsh and excessive penalty will also require the Registry to remove the suspension from my client’s driving record.
This case illustrates that it is possible to completely reverse some actions of the Registry, even when a Hearing Officer refuses to do so. With the right legal arguments the Board of Appeal can reverse adverse Registry actions such as license suspensions and revocations.