Converting Criminal Offenses to Civil Infractions

In some cases involving operating after suspension in violation of G.L. c. 90 § 23 or operating an uninsured motor vehicle in violation of G.L. c. 90 § 34J, prosecutors and defense lawyers might agree to treat these criminal offenses as civil infractions pursuant to G. L. c. 277, § 70C. This law allows certain criminal misdemeanor motor vehicle offenses to be treated as non-criminal driving infractions. This disposition is not available in Massachusetts operating under the influence (OUI) cases .

Having the court treat a criminal charge as a civil infraction, may have some benefits such as not having a criminal conviction on your record. However, unbeknownst to many, including some criminal defense lawyers, when a case is resolved with a responsible finding, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will treat the disposition as a conviction and automatically impose the corresponding license suspension, even though the offense was decriminalized.

The unsuspecting defendant is usually quick to agree to converting a criminal charge to a civil violation to avoid having a criminal conviction. A few days later, he or she receives a suspension notice in the mail stating that the Registry will be suspending his or her driver’s license due to the civil infraction. Once this happens, it’s too late to change the outcome of the case and the driver is faced with an unexpected mandatory license suspension. Therefore, defendants faced with the option of having a criminal motor vehicle violation converted to a civil infraction should carefully weigh the benefits against the registry sanctions which a responsible finding will trigger.

Your Legal Rights in Mass. License Suspension Cases

Whenever the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles takes action against your license, you have the legal right to have a hearing before a Registry Hearings Officer. In immediate threat cases, due to public safety considerations, the Registry may revoke your license first and grant you a hearing afterwards. Likewise, if you are arrested for OUI, and you refuse to submit to a chemical breath or blood test, or you fail such a test your license will be immediately revoked at the time of the Breathalyzer refusal or failure. You can have a Registry hearing after the revocation takes effect, where you have the legal right to have an attorney represent you.

In most other cases, the Registry is legally required to grant you a hearing prior to the suspension or revocation of your license or right to operate in Massachusetts. You have the right to be represented by a lawyer at this hearing. You also have the right to be represented by a lawyer at any hardship license hearing, whether it is conducted by MassDOT or the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.

Being represented by a lawyer can often make the difference between getting a license or getting denied and having to serve the balance of your suspension or revocation. If the Board of Appeal has denied you a hardship license, it is usually too late to hire a lawyer. If you’ve been denied by the Board, the avenue of appeal is to Superior Court, where it is extremely difficult to reverse a hardship license denial, even with an attorney.

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.