Get a Hardship License or Full Reinstatement

mass_licenseIf the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has suspended or revoked your driver’s license or right to operate, my office may be able to get you a 12 hour hardship license or full reinstatement of your driving privileges. I have been representing clients before the Driver Control Unit of the Mass. RMV and the Board of Appeal of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance for many years and I have been able to achieve excellent results for my clients.

I am proud to have distinguished myself as a statewide expert on Mass. RMV matters and I serve as a resource for other lawyers who are looking for information regarding Massachusetts drivers license suspensions, revocations, and reinstatements as well as hardship licensing appeals.

As a lawyer who specializes in Massachusetts RMV cases, I routinely handle cases involving 7 surchargeable event suspensions, indefinite immediate threat revocations, immediate threat medical suspensions, 4 year habitual traffic offender revocations, drug related license suspensions, DUI and chemical test refusal suspensions, and fraudulent license revocations, to name a few. It is important to realize that I may be able to get you a hardship license, or even a full reinstatement, even if the RMV has denied you.

My office does not handle indefinite license suspensions for non-payment of taxes, child support, traffic citations, or property damage claims. These suspensions can be cleared by paying the outstanding financial obligations and no hardship licenses are issued for these suspensions, either from the Board of Appeal or the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

I have been very successful in resolving a variety of National Driver Register (NDR) suspensions in Massachusetts and NDR suspensions in other states which have originated in Massachusetts.

I urge you to contact me for a free consultation and review of your case.

Get a Hardship License & Drive Legally

driver_license_massachusettsIf the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has denied you a hardship license, you have the ability to appeal the denial by going before the Board of Appeal of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. The Board of Appeal has the lawful authority to order the Registry to grant you a hardship license, or in some cases, a full license reinstatement, even after the Registry of Motor Vehicles has initially declined your request.

If you need to go before the Board of Appeal, this means that there is something about your driving record, criminal history, or the facts of your case which disqualify you from being given hardship driving privileges at the RMV level. The same facts which have prevented you from being given hardship relief at the RMV may make it difficult for you to convince the Appeals Board to grant you a hardship license. Therefore, it makes sense to hire a lawyer who regularly and routinely appears before the Board. To ensure that you’re getting the best legal representation possible, you should ask your lawyer how many Board of Appeal cases he or she has handled and what is his or her win / loss record before the Board. There are some lawyers who do not regularly practice before the Board and they should be avoided.

If you are serious about obtaining a Massachusetts Hardship License, I invite you to contact me for a free consultation and review of your case. After speaking with you, I will candidly advise you regarding your chances of success and I will make recommendations regarding what you need to do to strengthen your case.

There is a lot of misinformation floating around the internet and even among some attorneys regarding hardship licensing eligibility and requirements. After speaking with me, you will know exactly where you stand and whether you qualify for hardship licensing consideration. There may be no need to suffer with a suspended or revoked license when you can lawfully drive. Contact Attorney Simoneau for more information on how you may be able to drive legally.

 

Tips for going before the Board of Appeal

In Massachusetts, the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance has the power to provide hardship licenses, even in cases where the applicant has been denied such a license by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. However, getting a hardship license from the Board of Appeal is not easy. Being successful at the RMV Appeals Board requires good timing, case preparation, and documentation. Most people lose at the Board of Appeal because they appear at unprepared, at the wrong time, or without the required documents.

First, if winning your case is important to you, spend the money and hire a lawyer who routinely practices before the Board. There’s no substitute for good legal representation. Not all lawyers specialize in Registry matters and when they come before the Board, they sometimes have difficulty. On the other hand, lawyers who regularly appear before the Board generally have better results. Ask your lawyer about his win / loss record.

Timing is critical. You should not appear before the Board of Appeal if you are serving a repeat offender who is chemical test refusal (CTR) suspension. The Board has taken the legal position that it has no authority to hear and decide your hardship case until the breathalyzer refusal suspension expires. There are absolutely no exceptions to this rule.

You should also not go before the Board if you have not served enough of your suspension or revocation. A lawyer who specializes in Board of Appeal cases can advise you as to when to appeal, based on his experience in handling prior cases; I’ve consulted with thousands of clients and handled many hundreds of such appeals.

Next, if you have pending charges or open cases for motor vehicle violations, you should not go before the Board. The appeal application clearly this. The rationale for this restriction is that going before the Board and getting a hardship license is a waste of time, yours and the Board’s, if you are just going to lose your license if you are convicted of the pending violations.

Having the right documentation is essential. The Board loves paperwork and the most important documents include proof of your need to drive for work, school, or medical reasons, a discharge summary showing your risk of recidivism or relapse, and a substance abuse evaluation which also provides a recidivism classification. Proof of program completion is also an important document. Other important items include proof of AA attendance, if available, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement addressed to the Board. These are only a few examples of what can help you get a driver’s license.

Your lawyer cannot win the case without your help, no matter how good he or she is.

Operating After Suspension & Hardship Licensing

I recently received this inquiry from an individual who is attempting to obtain a hardship license.

Good afternoon, I have two oui of liquor. I went to trial last October for my second offense because I blew a .08 and lost. I’m in my first year of the two year suspension. I got arrested again in August for driving on a suspended license. I served 30 days in jail although the court only sentenced me to 10 days. I violated probation my first time. Did the two week program and have one more of after care classes. I drove a car 10 houses and my cousin told the cop I drove. I actually didn’t get arrested in the car I was already at a house. The cops came and arrested me. It’s along story. I was wondering if I could still get a hardship I live in the suburbs and it’s tough to get around. I just made very stupid decisons. I heard they take your license for an additional year and there is no way I could get a hardship I would have to wait the full two years. Is this true? If you could just give me a little feed back and if I am eligible after I complete my last class you could represent me. Thank you for your time.

Unfortunately, getting a hardship license with a recent Operating After Suspension charge on your record is extremely difficult. Expecting that the Board of Appeal would not authorize the issuance of a hardship license, I declined to represent the person. Lately, the Board has expressed a very negative opinion regarding those who make the very poor decision to drive while their license is suspended or revoked for DUI. Recent OAS charges will make getting hardship relief very difficult. Instead of driving while your license is under suspension you should apply for a hardship license, so that you can drive legally. In this case, the driver made no attempt to get a hardship license and now that he has been convicted of driving while suspended, it is likely too late.

Not All Drug or Alcohol Programs are Equal

alcohol_programIn Massachusetts DUI cases, one of the key parts of your hardship license hearing before the Board of Appeal or Registry is a review of the drug or alcohol treatment program which you have most recently completed. Not all programs are equal and the Board of Appeal has become very adept at discerning what is a legitimate and substantive alcohol program and what is not.

Some hardship license candidates attempt to satisfy the program requirement with on-line or “distance learning”  programs.  The Board of Appeal hears thousands of cases each year and the Board members are aware of the differences between these programs which you basically take over the internet and then print your certificate versus the more substantive programs which require your physical attendance and participation.

Going before the Board of Appeal with a “correspondence school” or “on-line alcohol program” when completion of an actual “in-person” program is required can result in a hardship license denial, which would force you to serve the balance of your revocation or license suspension.

Not all substance abuse programs are equal and not having a substantive alcohol or drug program may hurt your chances of success, especially if you are a repeat offender. You should consult with a lawyer prior to appearing before the Board of Appeal to ensure that you have what it takes to convince the Board to grant you a hardship license or reinstatement of your driving privileges.

The Probation Department of your District Court can be a valuable resource when it comes to finding an alcohol or drug treatment program.  You can also find programs on-line and through Alcoholics Anonymous Groups. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also maintains a list of approved programs and treatment providers.

Finally, if you are legally domiciled out of state, or if you are a full-time student who resides in another state, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will accept proof of program completion from your home state, even if the DUI offenses occurred here in Massachusetts. However, if you are not a Massachusetts resident, you cannot get a Massachusetts Driver’s License and you must go before the Appeals Board instead of the Registry to be considered for hardship relief. If you have to appear before the Board, you should retain a lawyer.

Out of State DUI Q&A

I need help with reinstating my Mass driver’s license. I have to see a RMV hearing officer, Wilmington is the closest Registry. I am 39 years old and I have never been in trouble before.

I got arrested 2 times in 2 weeks for DUI (I don’t drink by the way). The first one happened in CT — which ended in “Alternate finding” i.e. take a long expensive drug/alcohol class and probation for one year. My lawyer kept “continuing” the case so the second DUI arrest case in Rhode Island finished way before the Connecticut judge assigned probation.  The RI DUI was dropped and has been expunged from my record. I refused the breathalyzer after I was under arrest. I would have easily passed the breathalyzer, but since I felt wrongly arrested in both incidents and since this whole experience was foreign to me, I felt I should contact a lawyer before cooperating anymore. I was found responsible for both refusals. My suspensions are up and MA has sent me letters asking me to see the hearing officer with my papers from RI and CT- the states’ reinstatements and my driving records. I have my court documents as well. I couldn’t tell by the MA letter if they needed those as well.

Here’s the question: Do I go to hearing officer with both sets (CT and RI) of documents or deal with them one at a time? The Rhode Island case finished first so I’ll be receiving that paperwork this week. I’ll be receiving the Connecticut documents the week of November 13th. Thank you in advance for any light you could shed!

Answer: If you hold a Massachusetts Drivers License or live in Massachusetts, and you are convicted of an out of state DUI offense, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license unless and until your right to operate is restored in the state where the offense occurred. Also, the Registry will impose an additional suspension which is triggered by being a Mass. resident or license holder and being convicted of an out of state DUI. You need to bring “proof of findings” to the Registry so that the CT offense can be added to your Massachusetts record. Once this happens, the RMV will impose an automatic 1 year DUI 1st offense license suspension. In some cases, this suspension can be reduced.

Resolve your Criminal Case Before going to the Board of Appeal

rightsIf MassDOT has taken action against your Massachusetts Driver’s License or right to operate in Massachusetts, G.L. c. 90 § 28 gives you the right to seek review of the Registry’s decision by taking your case before a 3 member Board of Appeal. This Board, which is an agency of the Division of Insurance, has the legal authority to reverse any decision of the Mass RMV. This means that the Board has the power to order the Registry to give you your driver’s license back in full or to grant you a hardship license, which allows you to legally drive for 12 hours each day if your license has been suspended or revoked.

You cannot get a license from the Board of Appeal without personally attending a Board of Appeal hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to give the Board information so that its members can decide whether to grant you a hardship license or to overturn your suspension.

In some cases, you may have pending criminal charges for operating after suspension, reckless driving, negligent operation, or operating under the influence. If you have pending charges, you should not apply for a hearing with the Appeals Board. Instead, you should wait until your criminal case is resolved. In most cases, the Board will refuse to hear your suspension appeal case until the criminal matter is concluded. This is because if you are convicted, you will have a new license suspension and any order made by the Board will be null and void.

There is another important reason for waiting to appeal your suspension, as I have explained below.

The 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution gives you the right to remain silent and the ability to refuse to testify against yourself. Article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights give you the same protection. At your appeal hearing, you will be questioned regarding the contents of your criminal and driving records, which will reflect any pending cases as well as your history of violations, whether or not they resulted in a conviction. If you invoke your 5th Amendment or Article 12 Rights against self incrimination, it is unlikely the appeal will be resolved in your favor. If you testify , you will likely be providing evidence which could hurt your chances of success in the criminal case.

All testimony at the Board of Appeal is sworn, which means that it is given under the penalties and pains of perjury. Furthermore, all testimony is electronically recorded and preserved.  Nothing would prevent the Board from sharing this information with prosecutors or the District Attorney’s Office from issuing a subpoena for your testimony. This sworn testimony could be used against you in the criminal case. Therefore, if you have pending criminal charges, the best thing to do is to wait until those charges are fully resolved through the court system before seeking a hardship license or early reinstatement of your driver’s license. If you have any questions regarding this, you should speak with a lawyer.

The Boston RMV is Moving!

MASSDOTOn Monday, September 15, 2014, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will relocate its Boston Branch from 630 Washington Street in Chinatown to the second and third floors of the state-owned building at 136 Blackstone Street in Boston.  This building was constructed around two ventilation shafts which vent the underground “big dig” tunnels below the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

The Boston Branch of the Registry houses the Driver Control Unit where suspension and chemical test refusal hearings are held. Hardship license, immediate threat, and complaint regulatory hearings will also be held at this location. Hearings for ignition interlock violations are held at the Quincy office which is located at 25 Newport Avenue Extension in Quincy. License Fraud hearings are held at the Special Investigation Unit which is located at 25 Stuart Street in Boston.

Parking at the new location is expected to be limited and the best way to get there is to take the MBTA to Haymarket Station.

The first floor of the building will house the Boston Public Market, which is a year-round indoor public market which will sell locally grown produce and other foods from the New England area.

Telephone numbers remain the same. You can continue to reach the suspension unit at 857-368-8200.

RMV Requires Ignition Interlock Device

ignition interlock deviceIf the Registry of Motor Vehicles suspended your driver’s license or right to operate for Operating Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol, and you have a prior DUI conviction, regardless or when or where it occurred, you will be required to use an ignition interlock device while you are on a hardship license and for a minimum of 2 years after getting the hardship hours removed from your license. The Registry makes no exceptions when it comes to the ignition interlock device (IID) requirement, which is mandated for all repeat DUI offenders. Your license will be IID restricted even if the court treated you as a first offender or you were given a “Cahill” or “Second Chance, First Offender” disposition.

The initial lease fee for the IID is approximately $200.00 and you must pay a $100.00 monthly monitoring fee. These fees are mandatory and there are no waivers for those who are indigent.

All states now have some form of an ignition interlock program. In some states, such as New York, the IID is required even for first offenders. In Massachusetts, it is required for those with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th offenses. Those with 5DUI offenses will have their licenses revoked for life, with no ability to apply for a hardship or work license.

If you are a repeat DUI offender and have been cleared for either hardship relief or a full license reinstatement, you must have the IID installed by a certified vendor. Once the IID is installed, you need to bring proof of installation to a Registry Hearings Officer in order to reinstate your license. You will have to sign a package of forms which explain the Registry’s IID program and the rules which you must obey to avoid the loss of your license. You must sign this package in the presence of a Notary Public and it must be notarized. Any license driver who lives with you must also sign paperwork stating that he or she knows that your license is IID restricted.

In most cases, you will be required to take a written and road test to get your license reinstated. If you are required to re-test, you must have the IID installed prior to taking the road test. You will take the test in the IID equipped vehicle.

If you commit an ignition interlock violation by missing rolling re-tests, failing rolling re-tests, failing to have the device downloaded as required, or tampering with, disconnecting, or circumventing the IID, your license will be revoked for 10 years or life. Also, operating a vehicle without the IID during your restriction period will result in a 10 year license revocation, regardless of whether or not you were charged criminally or convicted.

Proposed Bill would Eliminate Drug Suspensions

In accordance with G.L. c. 90, §22(f), the Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles suspends the driver’s licenses of those who have been convicted of drug offenses, irrespective of whether the crime involved a motor vehicle. Every year the Registry imposes approximately 7,000 drug suspensions, ranging from 1 to 5 years in length.  Massachusetts is one of 17 states in the U.S. where drug convictions will trigger mandatory license revocations.

There is currently legislation pending, at the Massachusetts Statehouse, which would terminate the longstanding practice of imposing automatic license suspensions for drug convictions. The Bill was filed in January of last year and it may be enacted in the near future. The Massachusetts Senate passed the Bill in May of this year.

The basis for the legislation is that having a suspended license, and a history of drug convictions, may hamper recovery efforts. The lack of a license makes it difficult for convicted drug offenders to find legitimate work. If the legislation passes, drug convictions would not appear on driving records and they would not trigger license suspensions. The Bill would also save convicted drug offenders from having to pay the $500.00 reinstatement fee which the Registry charges when someone reinstates from a drug related suspension.

Unless and until the legislation is enacted, if you lost your driver’s license due to a drug conviction, you can be considered for a hardship license at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or Board of Appeal. Where you go depends on your record. Those with multiple drug offenses must go to the Appeals Board. Clean urine screens and a substance abuse evaluation are critical.

 

Don’t Drive on a Suspended License!

One of my clients recently contacted me looking for a referral to a criminal defense lawyer. The client had an 8 year OUI 3rd offense revocation and I was working with the client to put together a package of documents for a hardship license hearing. We were preparing to go before the Board of Appeal once the client had the required documentation and had saved enough money for legal representation at the Board of Appeal, installation of the ignition interlock, and the $1,200.00 reinstatement fee which the Registry charges.

The client made the mistake of driving while her license was revoked for DUI and she got caught. This will disqualify her from being considered for any type of hardship relief for at least a year. Also, if she is convicted, the RMV will take her license for an additional year and she faces minimum mandatory jail time. Both Massachusetts courts and the Registry treat operating after suspension as a serious offense, especially when the person’s license was suspended for OUI. A case of this nature cannot be continued without a finding or filed. Furthermore, no sentence and be reduced or suspended until the defendant serves at least 60 days in jail.

The Board of Appeal sometimes interprets driving on a suspended license as evidence of a lack of respect for the law and recent convictions for OAS will make it very difficult to obtain a hardship license. In this particular case, the client’s actions have delayed her hardship license eligibility for at least a year, during which time there must be no evidence of operation. Even after having served an additional year, there are no guarantees that she will receive approval for a hardship license.

In a DUI case where the defendant is on probation, driving a motor vehicle may also result in a probation violation. This is because repeat DUI offenders are usually prohibited from driving as a special condition of probation. Any operation of a motor vehicle would violate this probation condition. Furthermore, getting arrested or charged with a new crime may also trigger a probation violation, for which there may be serious consequences.

As you can see, operating after suspension can be a serious issue, especially where the license was suspended for OUI. It may result in your arrest, violation of probation, disqualification for a hardship license, and the imposition of a mandatory jail sentence.