If you refuse to submit to a chemical test in Massachusetts, after having been arrested for drunk driving, and notified of the consequences of your refusal, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend your driver’s license. Pursuant to G.L. c. 90, § 24(1) (g), you can appeal that suspension within 15 days, during regular business hours, at the Boston RMV Branch, which is located at 136 Blackstone Street, Boston, MA. Appeals of adverse Registry breath test refusal decisions can be filed in the District Court which has jurisdiction over the DUI case.
Under the Mass. Implied Consent Law, MassDOT imposes escalating breathalyzer refusal license suspensions ranging from 6 months to life. The purpose of these increasingly severe suspensions is to encourage those arrested for DUI to take breath tests, so that they can be more easily convicted of drunk driving. Subject to a narrow exception, repeat offenders cannot be granted hardship licenses while these chemical test refusal suspensions are in effect. Also, the Registry requires that refusal suspensions be served consecutively with any other suspensions or revocations arising out of the OUI case.
Unless your DUI case was resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D and that resolution was legally appropriate, the Registry will not consider you for any type of hardship, limited, work, or Cinderella license while the refusal suspension remains in effect. The Board of Appeal has taken the position that it does not have the ability to hear breathalyzer refusal appeals. Therefore, not appealing to the Registrar within the required 15 day time period limits your appellate options.
If you are found not guilty of the DUI case, or the charges were dismissed, you have the right to go before the judge who presided over the DUI trial to ask for your license to be returned and reinstated. When ruling on a motion to reinstate, the judge will likely consider the facts of the case as well as your driving and criminal records. If the motion to reinstate is denied, the proper recourse is to file for reconsideration and/or to seek certiorari review in Superior Court. Neither the Registry nor the Board of Appeal on Liability Policies and Bonds has the legal jurisdiction to hear your appeal of an adverse district court decision.
To determine if a person is a repeat offender, the Registry is allowed to count operating under the influence convictions in Massachusetts or any other jurisdiction, using a lifetime look-back period. Also, assignments to alcohol treatment programs count just like convictions.
If you refuse a breath test with 3 or more prior DUI convictions, your license will be automatically revoked for life and there is absolutely no way to get a hardship license. There are no exceptions to this rule. Your only recourse is to try to overturn the lifetime refusal revocation. Hardship licensure in this situation is not possible.