Out of State DUI Convictions & your Massachusetts License

Getting your Massachusetts Driver’s License reinstated from an out of state DUI suspension or revocation can be a very frustrating process. This is because you must satisfy the reinstatement requirements of the jurisdiction where the DUI offense occurred as well as the requirements of MassDOT.

You cannot get a Massachusetts Hardship or Cinderella license while your right to operate a motor vehicle is under suspension or revocation in any other state or jurisdiction. This means that you cannot get an DUI in New Hampshire, for example, and then get a Mass. Hardship License while the State of New Hampshire has your driving privileges under suspension in that state. Instead, you must satisfy all outstanding obligations to the State of New Hampshire, which may include an SR-22 Insurance Certificate, which proves to the Financial Responsibility Section of the NH DMV that you have adequate liability coverage.

You can reinstate in Massachusetts only when your outstanding obligations to the other state has been satisfied. However, your troubles usually do not end there. This is because the Mass. Registry will penalize you for an out of state DUI conviction or motor vehicle infraction as if the incident had occurred here in Massachusetts. This means that in addition to whatever penalty you served in the state where the conviction occurred, you must serve the penalty imposed by Massachusetts Law.

Fortunately, in many cases, there are ways to avoid or reduce the suspension imposed by MassDOT for out of state convictions. However, this requires a Registry Hearing and situations like this must be handled on a case-by-case basis. The first step in this process is to collect all relevant court documentation from the state where the offense occurred. Examples of important items to collect and retain include a copy of the court docket or an abstract showing the charges, offense date, disposition date, and outcome of the case.

If you need assistance dealing with an out of state DUI, please contact my office for a consultation and review of your situation. My office has successfully worked with out of state DUI lawyers to achieve the best outcome in these cases, so as to avoid or reduce the suspension and revocation consequences.

 

The Connecticut Pretrial Alcohol Education Program

ct_licenseFirst offenders in the State of Connecticut may be eligible to participate in the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program, which is administered by the Connecticut Superior Court. This program consists of at least 10 alcohol or substance abuse counseling sessions and a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel. The program is overseen by the state and it is delivered by twelve authorized providers. Eligibility for this DUI program is limited first offenders and second offenders whose first drunk driving offense is more than 10 years old. A substance abuse evaluation is mandatory as a condition of entry into the program.  Successful completion of this Pretrial Alcohol Education Program results in the DUI charges being dismissed by the court. This dismissal will occur approximately one year after your assignment to the AEP. Dismissal is mandatory upon successful completion of the program.

The goal of the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program is to reduce DUI recidivism through education. One of the benefits of this pre-trial diversion program to participants is that participation is possible without having to plead guilty and successful program completion will result in a dismissal of the charges by the court.  When your DUI is dismissed, it will be removed from your criminal record. However, the fact that you were assigned to and completed the AEP will remain on your driving record and this may have consequences for licensing and insurance.

Unfortunately, if you are a Massachusetts resident who commits a DUI in the State of Connecticut, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles discovers or is notified of your DUI arrest and resulting assignment to an alcohol education program, the Registry will treat it as an OUI conviction and suspend your Massachusetts Driver’s License for one year as a first offense, two years for a second offense, eight years for a third offense, ten years for a fourth offense, and life for a fifth or subsequent offense.

Like Massachusetts, Connecticut offers hardship licenses to those offenders who meet the state’s qualifications. This Connecticut alcohol education program is similar to the Massachusetts 24D program, which is available to first offenders and “second chance” first offenders, whose prior DUI conviction occurred more than 10 years before the second offense.

No Hardship License for NDR Suspension

NDR_CLEARANCEIn out of state suspension cases, the first step to restoring your Massachusetts Driver’s License is to reinstate your driving privileges in the state where the violation occurred. Your right to operate must be restored in the other state prior to attempting to get your license back here in Massachusetts because it is impossible to get a hardship, work, or limited license in Massachusetts while your right to drive is suspended elsewhere. You must be in good standing in the National Driver Register prior to having your Mass. license restored, either on a part-time or full time basis.

Many drivers who have lost their right to drive in Massachusetts due to an out of state DUI or other violation call my office looking for a way to have MassDOT override an indefinite NDR revocation. This is generally not possible. Massachusetts is required to give full faith and credit to out of state suspensions and revocations, just as other states are required to respect license actions taken by the Mass. RMV. Therefore, you must have the state where the problem originated remove the NDR block prior to trying to get your license back in your home state. The Registry will not grant hardship driving permits under any circumstances unless the applicant is eligible in the NDR and there is no way around this.

Once your rights are restored in the state where the conviction entered or the disqualification occurred, that does not mean that your troubles are over. Once the Mass. Registry discovers an out of state, or even an out of country, conviction for a motor vehicle law violation, the RMV will apply that to your driving record and once that happens, a new license suspension will automatically be generated. When this happens, I may be able to help you reduce or eliminate the loss of license, depending on the particular situation. Please contact me to see how my office can help you get your license restored.

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.

Out of State Suspension Q&A

Situation: I moved here from the State of Hawaii for work and school. The job that I had lined up for me requires a valid Massachusetts Driver’s License. I have had a DUI in the past, but with no job it was hard to pay the fines. Here, I’ve found work. I just need the right documents and my life will be back on track. I have a child support issue that also put a stop to my license. I intend to pay everything off, but I need the job to do so. This would be perfect and could really use the help.

Answer: Unfortunately, any out of state suspensions will result in you being denied a driver’s license here in Massachusetts.  Whenever you apply for a license, the Registry will check the National Driver Register (NDR) and the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS). Any blocks or holds on your record based on out of state suspensions will prevent you from being issued a license here in Massachusetts. You must resolve the suspensions in the state where they have originated. There are absolutely no exceptions to this requirement and you cannot get a hardship license when you have a National Driver Register block in place or an out of state license suspension.

National Driver Register (NDR) Suspensions

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (MCSIA) requires all state Motor Vehicle Departments to verify a license holder or license applicant’s driving record through checks of both the National Driver Register (NDR) and Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS), prior to issuing or renewing a driver’s license or CDL. This means that you cannot have your license suspended in one state and apply for a license in another state to avoid the suspension or revocation.

Every state has to check the National Driver Register and it does not matter whether a particular state is a member of any driver’s license compact or non-resident violator compact. The National Driver Register (NDR) is a central computerized database which contains information regarding drivers whose license or right to operate a motor vehicle has been denied, revoked suspended, or canceled, for a valid reason, or those individuals who have been convicted of enumerated serious traffic-related violations, such as operating under the influence (OUI).

When a Motor Vehicle Department in any state, including the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, discovers that an individual has a status of “ineligible” or “blocked” in the NDR, the DMV cannot issue or renew the person’s driver’s license. This requires the driver to contact the state which placed the block on his or her NDR record to have it removed. Under this system, Motor Vehicle Departments can avoid granting driver’s licenses to those individuals whose records contain serious violations such as DUI or those who have lost their right to drive in other states.

If you have an NDR block on your record, you are entitled to be provided with the reference number and contact information for the agency which has placed the NDR block on your record. Sometimes these blocks are the product of identity theft, inaccurate information, or another disqualified individual having the same name and date of birth as you. Unfortunately, the Registry does not work on the honor system and it will be up to you to prove that the block is invalid.

If the NDR block is valid, you must work with the state where the block has originated to satisfy whatever outstanding obligations that you have in that state so that you can reinstate your right to operate there. There is nothing that the Massachusetts RMV can do for you until your record is clear in the NDR and the hold is removed by the motor vehicle agency that initiated it. You can usually remove an NDR block by completing the required alcohol or drug education programs, paying any outstanding fines and/or fees, producing an SR-22 insurance certificate, or simply serving the suspension time required.

Having the NDR hold removed does not mean that your license or right to operate in Massachusetts will be automatically reinstated. If you committed an out of state motor vehicle violation, such as DUI, while you were a Mass. resident or held a Mass. License, the RMV will impose a new suspension in addition to whatever suspension was imposed in the state where the violation occurred. This is because the RMV is required to treat out of state violations as if they had happened here in Massachusetts, for license suspension purposes. If this happens to you, it may be possible to get the suspension reduced or get a hardship license. However, this can only be done after the National Driver Register Indefinite Suspension has been cleared. Contact a lawyer for more information.

The National Driver Register

Whenever you apply for a Massachusetts Driver’s License, learner’s permit, hardship license or renewal, the Registry will check the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) to see if there is a matching record. The RMV may also check the database at other times, such as if you apply for a duplicate license or if you are appearing before the Board of Appeal for a hearing. The PDPS connects the Registry of Motor Vehicles to the National Driver Register (NDR), which is a computerized nationwide database of drivers who have lost their privileges due to operating under the influence, license fraud, being a habitual traffic offender, or some other similar suspension reason. All Registry Hearings Officers can perform National Driver Register Inquiry Checks on customers who appear before them.

The NDR system only pertains to passenger car licenses. There is a separate system known as the Commercial Driver Licensing Information System (CDLIS) which contains suspension, revocation, and denial information for CDL holders.

If a match is found between your name and date of birth and a record in the National Driver Register, the Registry will deny your license or learner’s permit application. If you already have a Massachusetts Driver’s License, the RMV will indefinitely suspend or revoke it until you meet certain reinstatement requirements. The Registry considers a match to have occurred when the first 4 letters in the last name, the first 3 letters in the first name, and the first letter in the middle name, as well as the date of birth, match with the information contained in the Registry’s computer.

When an NDR match is found, information is electronically obtained from the state where the suspension originated and the Mass. RMV will send out a suspension letter, advising the customer of the indefinite loss of his or her license in Massachusetts.

You can clear NDR suspensions by providing a recent driving record and clearance letter issued from the motor vehicle department which has you blocked in the NDR. In some cases, particularly those involving DUI convictions, the Registry will require you to provide court records showing the charges, outcome, offense date, and conviction date. Any records provided to the RMV to clear an out of state suspension cannot be more than 30 days old.

Clearing NDR suspensions can be frustrating and lead to other problems, because the Registry will treat out of state offenses as if they had occurred in Massachusetts. Therefore, an out of state conviction can result in the suspension of your Mass. license and other consequences such as an insurance premium increase. An out of sate infraction may be treated as a surchargeable event in Massachusetts and an out of state DUI conviction will count against you just as if it was a Massachusetts operating under the influence conviction.

If you need help clearing a National Driver Register Suspension, please call for a free consultation and review of your situation. After speaking with a lawyer, you will know exactly where you stand and what an attorney may be able to do to help.

NH Financial Responsibility Requirements

If you have an out of state drunk driving conviction, you may be required to get an SR-22 Insurance Certificate. This document shows that you have liability insurance. The New Hampshire Department of Motor  Vehicles calls this proof of “Financial Responsibility.” New Hampshire requires this because there is no compulsory liability insurance requirement in New Hampshire as there is in Massachusetts.

Getting an SR-22 certificate will require attending a hearing at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Driver Control Unit. A hearing s required because Massachusetts insurance companies will not issue you an insurance policy if you have a suspended license. You will need to get a temporary reinstatement in Massachusetts, so that you can get liability insurance.

Once you have proof of insurance or “financial responsibility” in the form of an SR-22 Certificate, you must present this to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state where your DUI conviction occurred. Once acceptable proof of financial responsibility is provided to the other state, the DMV should remove the block on your license record in the National Driver Registry, so that you can fully reinstate your Massachusetts Driver’s License.

However, you should realize that if the Massachusetts Registry is notified of an out of state DUI conviction, it will be applied to your record and it may trigger an additional suspension because of the law which requires the Registry to treat out of state motor vehicle violations as if they had occurred here in Massachusetts, when the violation is committed by Massachusetts resident or the holder of a Massachusetts Driver’s License.

If you were not a Mass. resident or license holder,  the Registry does not have the legal ability to suspend or revoke your license or right to operate because of the out of state conviction. However, the Registry is required to suspend your Mass. License or right to drive if your are blocked in the NDR because of the out of state offense.

Getting a temporary 30 day license so that you can get an SR-22 insurance certificate may be difficult and confusing, depending on your driving record and the facts of your case. A hardship license attorney may be able to assist you with this process. The Registry will not issue temporary licenses without official documents from the state where the suspension originated. You will need to provide either a “catch-22” letter or a “SR-22” letter issued by the out of state motor vehicle department (DMV). This letter cannot me more than thirty (30) days old and it must be an original letter on official letterhead.  You may also need to submit a certified copy of your driving record or court records from the state where the OUI offense or other motor vehicle violation occurred.

Once the Registry grants you a temporary reinstatement, you only have thirty (30) days to get the matter resolved. If the situation remains  unresolved beyond 30 days, the Mass. Registry will automatically re-suspend your license and you will have to repeat the entire SR-22 process all over again. Contact a Lawyer for more information.

New Hampshire may soon be Granting Hardship Licenses

The State of New Hampshire does not issue hardship, restricted, Cinderella, or work licenses for any reason. However, that may be changing in the near future. In a bill backed by Mothers Against Drug Driving (MADD), New Hampshire lawmakers are considering granting ignition interlock restricted hardship licenses to first offenders in New Hampshire.

If passed, House Bill 496 will allow those convicted of a first offense DUI in New Hampshire to be considered for a hardship license which would allow the defendant to drive for work, medical, or substance abuse rehabilitation purposes.  Any license issued to the first offenders would be ignition interlock restricted.

The issuance of hardship licenses under this proposed law would be discretionary and it would be up to the court system to decide who would receive these hardship licenses.

Despite opposition from New Hampshire’s police chiefs, the bill has strong support and it appears likely to pass. The Bill is expected to be brought before the full house in early January, 2014.

Out of State Citation Triggers Mass. License Suspension

Hardship License Question:

Back in 2009 I was caught drinking underage and cited for it. I was not driving and was also told in order to drive in the state of Pennsylvania I would have to pay 25 dollars. Since I don’t go to PA, I felt no need to pay this ridiculous fine because I was not driving and didn’t even have a car at the time (my license was only 3-4 months old). Fast forward to today, I got a letter from the Massachusetts RMV that stating my license here would be suspended on December 8, 2012. (license is up for renewal in January) I’ve reached out to PennDOT and they said it would only affect my driving in PA. Then I reached out to a hearing officer at the Wilmington, MA Registry (5hr wait) where she said that she couldn’t extend the date that my Mass. License would be suspended and I must clear up what was done in Pennsylvania before I get my license back here in Massachusetts. My commute 6 days a week is 35-45 minutes a day. I’m not sure what to do and what I can do to get this fixed.

Answer:

PennDOT has you listed in the National Driver Register (NDR) as blocked, due to the Pennsylvania license suspension for being a minor in possession of alcohol. The National Driver Register was designed to prevent drivers from ignoring license suspensions, financial responsibility, citations, and other consequences occurring in states other than the driver’s home state. Basically, the NDR was designed to prevent people from doing what you did, ignoring a suspension in a state where you do not reside.

You cannot get a hardship license in Massachusetts while your right to drive is suspended in Pennsylvania and you’re blocked in the NDR, so you need to address the matter with the state of Pennsylvania. Once you’re reinstated in Pennsylvania, the Registry may want a certified copy of your PA driving record or “proof of findings” regarding the license suspension. This may trigger a corresponding license suspension in Massachusetts, pursuant to the law which states that the Registry is required to treat out of state convictions as if they had occurred here in Massachusetts. Therefore, since your right to operate was suspended due to a civil infraction in Pennsylvania, you may have to deal with an additional 180 day minor in possession of alcohol suspension in Massachusetts. If this happens, I may be able to get you a hardship license or early reinstatement, so long as you are no longer suspended in Pennsylvania.