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Hardship License Appeal Process

Whether your license is suspended for speeding, surchargeable events, DUI (Drunk Driving), drug offenses, being a Habitual Traffic Offender, JOL violations, an immediate threat complaint, medical issue, or any other reason, Hardship License Lawyers have a streamlined and effective representation process. We may be able to get you an MA Hardship or work driver’s license.

There is absolutely no automatic right to a Massachusetts hardship license, which is also known as a work license, 7 to 7, or Cinderella license. Instead, these licenses are granted at the discretion of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles or the Mass. RMV Board of Appeal.

One of the best ways to avoid a hardship license denial is to consult with an attorney prior to filing your case with the Board of Appeal. Call The Law Office of Brian Simoneau, P.C., at 508-665-2995 for a free consultation and review of your situation.

Can You Appeal an RMV Hardship License Denial?

If the Registry of Motor Vehicles denies you a hardship license after a Registry hearing, you have the right to appeal the denial to the Massachusetts Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance. The Board has the power to overrule the Registry’s decision, and it can order the RMV to issue you a hardship license. As compared to the Registry, the Board has much more flexibility and discretion regarding hardship license appeals. However, the Board of Appeal will not issue a license in a case where the appellant represents a risk to public safety.

Unlike the Registry, the Board of Appeals does not hear cases on a walk-in basis. Instead, you must file an application for a hearing, pay a non-refundable filing fee, and wait until your hearing is scheduled. The RMV Board of Appeal hears appeals on a first-come, first-served basis, in accordance with the length of the suspension, with appeals of shorter suspensions being heard before appeals of longer suspensions. Due to “supply and demand,” depending on the length and nature of your license suspension, it may take months to get a hearing before the Board.

After thoroughly reviewing and analyzing your client interview report, records, and sometimes police or medical reports, a determination will be made regarding whether it is advisable to go before the Registry of Motor Vehicles or the Board of Appeal. Sometimes, a hardship license attorney will advise you that you have not served enough of your license suspension, and you must serve additional time before trying to get a hearing for a work driver’s license or hardship license. If you apply too early, you run the risk of the Board of Appeal turning you down without giving you a re-apply date.

Being represented by a lawyer who is familiar with exactly how the Board operates can substantially increase your chances of getting a hardship license. If your case was simple, the Registry would have granted you a license, and you would not have to appeal to the Registry Board of Appeals. Consequently, you should seriously consider legal representation. If the Board denies hardship relief, it is generally next to impossible to prevail in Superior Court.

What is a Board of Appeal Hearing?

Your hardship hearing, also called a Board of Appeal Hearing, allows you to present evidence explaining your circumstances and why you need a license. Before your Hardship License Hearing, your attorney will thoroughly review your file and go over exactly what to expect at the hearing. Clients who are unrepresented are usually extremely nervous and may make ineffective presentations. Our clients are much more relaxed and, with our help, they can provide clear and convincing information. Let us help you get an MA hardship license or work driver’s license.

At the hardship appeal hearing, your Registry Attorney will file certain documentary evidence and present your case. We know what information the decision-makers consider, and we make sure they have it. Clients may have to answer a few simple questions but generally do not have to say much. Our clients are usually much more comfortable and confident than those who do not have proper legal representation.

Can You Appeal a Board of Appeal Denial?

If the Board of Appeal denies hardship relief, it is possible to file a motion for reconsideration with the Board. The motion must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the Board’s adverse decision. The motion for reconsideration must identify a clerical error in the Board’s decision or a significant factor in your case that the Board may have overlooked.

Within 30 days of receipt of a final decision of the Board of Appeal, it is possible to appeal to the Superior Court. The appeal must have a legitimate legal basis, and the vast majority of hardship license appeals fail at the superior court level. The court affords the Board of Appeal with wide latitude and discretion. Absent a legal error, a Superior Court judge will not substitute his or her judgment for the Board’s.

There is generally no ability to introduce new evidence at the Superior Court level. Instead, the court will rely on the evidence presented at the Board of Appeal hearing. Given the limited appellate opportunities available to those who are denied a hardship license, it is important to be represented by an experienced lawyer who specializes in Massachusetts hardship license appeals.

If you have been denied a hardship license, you have the right to retain counsel and appeal that denial. Registry decisions are appealable.

What is a Superior Court Appeal?

I routinely get inquiries regarding Superior Court Appeals of Hardship License denials by the Board of Appeal. Many Massachusetts Hardship License applicants are unable to afford the services of a lawyer, and others try to save money by representing themselves. This can be a painful mistake. Although there is a right to appeal an adverse hardship license determination made by the Board of Appeals, these Superior Court appeals are almost always losers.

In Superior Court appeals, the hardship license candidate who was denied bears the burden of demonstrating that the Board’s decision to deny hardship relief is invalid. This is a heavy burden.

The Board’s decision may be set aside only if the Court finds it is:

  • in violation of constitutional provisions;
  • in excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the agency;
  • based upon an error of law;
  • made upon lawful procedure;
  • unsupported by substantial evidence;
  • unwarranted by facts found by the court on the record as submitted;
  • arbitrary or capricious or an abuse of discretion, and that substantial rights of a party have been prejudiced as a result

Substantial evidence means that a decision is based on “reasonable evidence, … i.e., ‘such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion,’ after taking into consideration opposing evidence in the record.”

In reviewing Board of Appeal decisions, the Courts routinely defer to the Board’s experience, technical competence, specialized knowledge, and discretionary authority. Given this legal standard, there is little meaningful opportunity to challenge the Board’s decision regarding who gets a hardship license and who gets denied. One of the best ways of ensuring that you will get a license is to hire an experienced lawyer who routinely practices before the Board and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Contact me for more information.

Do You Need a Lawyer for an Appeal?

Hiring a lawyer to handle your Board of Appeal Hardship License case is strongly advised, and it can often make the difference between winning and losing. The issuance of a hardship license is by no means guaranteed. “In Massachusetts, one’s right to operate a motor vehicle is a privilege voluntarily granted,” and “continued possession of this privilege is conditioned on obedience to the Legislature comprehensive regulatory scheme aimed at regulating the motorways and keeping them safe.”

Many hardship license candidates are unaware of how hard it is to get a hardship license. They only decide to hire a lawyer after they represent themselves and are denied a hardship license. When this happens, the Appellant’s usual recourse is to appeal the denial to Superior Court. There have been no reported decisions where the Superior Court, or any Massachusetts court for that matter, has ordered the Board to issue a hardship license. The Board is legally vested with broad latitude and discretion when it comes to hardship licensing decisions. The reviewing court may not substitute its judgment for that of the Board and must give due weight to the Board’s expertise. A person challenging the Board’s decision bears the “heavy” burden of showing that the hardship license denial is invalid.

Please don’t feel like you must navigate this challenging situation on your own. Call The Law Office of Brian Simoneau, P.C., at 508-665-2995 today for a consultation about your case.