If you have been denied a hardship license by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, you have the right to appeal the denial to the Board of Appeal. However, the same reason which resulted in your denial at the Registry may also cause you to get denied at the Appeals Board. Therefore, if you are serious about getting back on the road, its probably time to hire a lawyer. I have helped countless qualified clients get hardship licenses from the Board of Appeal when the Registry had refused to grant hardship relief. If the Mass. RMV has denied you a hardship license, contact me today for a free review of your situation.
The Division of Insurance Board of Appeal
The three member Board of Appeal of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance has appellate authority over the Registry of Motor Vehicles. G.L. c. 90 § 28 confers upon the Board, “overarching authority to affirm, modify, or annul any decision of the Registry. The Board is permitted to use this grant of authority to modify or annul even mandated Registry actions.” This means that can apply to the Board for a hardship license even if the Registry has denied you a license or if the Registry has refused to hear your hardship license appeal.
For example, in cases involving 7 surchargeable event suspensions, the suspension notice sent by the Registry states, “no hardship or work license is authorized by law.” However, the Board of Appeal does have the legal authority to grant such licenses and it has done so in the past. Also, the Board is not limited to granting hardship licenses and, in some cases, I have obtained full license reinstatements from the Board of Appeals.
Hearings at the Board of Appeal are much more formal than Registry hearings. They are recorded and governed by standard rules of adjudicatory procedure. Witnesses are sworn and evidence must be admissible to be received by the Board. You are entitled to have a lawyer represent you at the Board of Appeal and a good lawyer can often make the difference between getting a hardship license, shortening your suspension, or being denied relief and having to serve your entire suspension or revocation.
Appearing before the Board of Appeal at the wrong time, too early, or unprepared can result in a permanent hardship license denial and loss of any opportunity to re-apply for a hardship license, either before the Board of Appeal or the Massachusetts RMV. I have received countless calls and e-mails from people who made the mistake of trying to represent themselves before the Board. They’ve been denied hardship licenses and most have no recourse. Once you have your Board of Appeal hearing, unless the Board gives you a re-apply date, you cannot have another hearing on the same suspension, either from the Board or the Registry. Therefore, it is a misconception that you can apply multiple times to the Board and you have “nothing to lose” by trying. You may get a permanent denial of hardship relief.
In hardship license appeals, the Board hears live testimony from witnesses and reviews documents such as work letters, discharge summaries, program completion certificates, character reference letters, alcohol and substance abuse evaluations, and letters from probation. The Board has the ability review and reverse any decision of the Massachusetts RMV, which includes the ability to order the Registry to grant a hardship license, even when the RMV has previously refused to do so.