What You Need To Know About Hardship Licenses
A hardship license allows drivers with suspended licenses from DUI convictions or other similar violations to continue driving in order to meet basic needs because not driving would have an unwarranted negative impact on their lives. If public transportation is not enough for you to keep up with school, work, medical obligations or treatments, and family, a hardship license can help. While these are the most common reasons for granting a hardship license, there are sometimes exceptions if you don’t qualify under those grounds.
How Do You Get A Hardship License
In Massachusetts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles or the Board of Appeal are the bodies that applicants present their cases to when applying for a hardship license. You may have one granted to you if the inability to drive will cause you to lose your job or to fail out of school, just to name some examples. If you rely on regular medical treatments or have another health condition that requires you to drive to and from appointments, then you may qualify as well. A hardship license, also known as a Cinderella license, allows you to drive within a predetermined 12-hour window even though your license is officially suspended.
The Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles does not charge any additional fees for hardship licenses, so that you will only pay one reinstatement fee per suspension or revocation. The amount of the reinstatement fee will depend on the number of DUI convictions on the customer’s record. $500 for a first offense DUI, $700 for a second offense, and $1200 for a third or subsequent DUI conviction.
Process and Prior Offenses
You can apply for a hardship license as early as three days after entering your plea if you are a first-time offender. However, if you have received other DUIs or OUIs (Operating Under the Influence), then you will need to serve some of your license suspension time before applying. If you refused chemical testing, then that may affect how you can proceed legally. A hardship license lawyer in Massachusetts will be able to look over your specific case and will tell you what outcomes to expect. Depending on your driving record, If you refused a chemical test, you may have to wait until the refusal suspension expires before being considered for a hardship reinstatement.
What Hardship Is Required To Get a License
In order to qualify for a hardship license you must be able to prove that driving is an integral part of managing your family, work, school, and medical obligations and that public transportation cannot meet your needs. These reasons must be documented and be vital. Acceptable documents include the following types for each situation:
- School: You will need to provide roof of enrollment such as a class schedule or letter from the Registrar’s office at your institution.
- Work: A letter from your employer, or an offer letter if you are starting a new job, will suffice if the letter is printed on the company’s letterhead, lists how many hours you work, what hours you work, and that you need to drive for your job. Your employer can help you by also providing a character reference in this letter. Ask your employer to also include your attendance record and your role in the company.
- Medical: Documentation can be a letter from the treating physician along with an explanation of the patient’s treatment schedule and need to drive to appointments.
- Other forms of documentation: If you cannot get one of these forms of documentation, such as a letter from your employer, then a hardship license attorney can work with you to find out what you can provide based on your circumstances.
If you are claiming that you are self-employed and cannot rely on public transportation, then you will need to provide documentation. Acceptable forms of documentation include:
- Professional license: If you are a cosmetologist, for example, or work in a trade where you have passed a board certification exam in order to practice, then you can provide your professional license as documentation.
- Tax forms: Your 1099 forms or other tax forms (such as a W-2) from the previous year can be used.
- Business certificate: If you have a registered business then your certificate with your name and address will need to be provided.
Difficulties And Reasons For Rejections for a Hardship License
Proving hardship is only a part of the battle. Neither the Registry nor the Board of Appeal will grant a license if they believe that you could be a potential threat to public safety. There is no entitlement to receive a hardship license.
One of the main reasons why people are denied is simply because they fail to provide sufficient documentation. Driving in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a privilege, not a right, and the RMV and Board of Appeal take the responsibility of keeping our roads safe very seriously, especially when a repeat offender is applying for a hardship license.
If you are a night student and work during the day, then you may face additional challenges because the license is only valid for a scheduled 12-hour period, and if you drive outside of those hours, you are breaking the law.
Many reasons that may be important to you will not be valid cause for the Registry to grant the license. Volunteer opportunities, parents’ council memberships, and other regular obligations, even if you are a vital member of the organization, may not be granted. Some people are very active members in alumni associations, planning fundraisers, and other community or nonprofit organizations and are seen as leaders in these important institutions, but it is not likely that these obligations, as commendable as they are, will present a strong enough case to have a hardship license granted. Hobbies with regularly scheduled practices or meet-ups are also not sufficient. If you have concerns about your specific case, you need to talk to an attorney.
Additional reasons for denying a hardship license include:
- A history of drug or alcohol abuse
- Repeat OUI/DUI offenses
- Applying at the wrong time, such as too early or before serving enough of your suspension time
- Getting caught driving with a suspended or revoked license
- A significant criminal or driving record
- Alcoholism or drug abuse that appears to be untreated or still a significant problem
- Not having spent enough time being sober or clean
Should You Hire A Hardship License Attorney?
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, hardship licenses aren’t a right, so there are many reasons why you could have yours denied by the RMV and Board of Appeal even if you completed the suspension time and met all the requirements set by the Registry. It is so easy to go online, read a few articles, watch some court shows, and feel like it’s all very straightforward. If you have your documents together then you may think it shouldn’t be so hard. Or maybe this is your third offense and you feel you know what you’re doing because you’ve been in this situation before. But none of these conditions justifies going to court without an attorney. You could lose your driving privileges completely if you go in on your own, whereas with an attorney who knows the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts very well, you might get your license and perhaps closer to reinstatement.
Definitions, Programs, and Consequences
A lawyer will be able to explain to you the various consequences you will have to face and the programs you will be required to attend or complete. Some of the common acronyms and terms you may see include the following:
- 24D disposition: this is a state-approved alcohol and drug education program that offenders can enter in order to reduce their fines and hopefully drive without restrictions sooner. This can also be called a 9024D Program.
- CTR: This stands for Chemical Test Refusal. A hardship or Cinderella license will not be granted to someone who refused a chemical test.
- YAP: This stands for Youth Alcohol Program, which is what someone would enter if they’re under 21 and have been driving under the influence, and especially if they have refused a chemical test.
And this list does not include the legal language you will see in all of your documents that a competent hardship license attorney can explain.
One of the most common reasons why the Registry denies granting a hardship license to a driver who applies for one is because of insufficient documentation. An attorney who has been in practice for many years will have seen it all and will know how to help you gather what’s necessary and valid to use.
After speaking with a hardship license lawyer you will know what your chances are of receiving one from the Registry of Motor Vehicles and what challenges you may face in getting one. It may be better to appeal your license or suspension to the Board of Appeals, who have been known to grant hardship licenses in some cases when the RMV has not. During your no-obligation consultation, your hardship license attorney will review the information and determine your eligibility to help you get back to legally driving again.
- Out of Massachusetts State Violations
- Do I Need a Hardship License Lawyer?
- Drug Related License Suspension
- RMV Hearing Procedures
- Habitual Traffic Offender Revocations
- CDL Suspensions
- License Fraud Suspensions
- Immediate Threat Suspensions
- 7 Surchargeable Events Suspensions
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident
- The Work Letter Requirement
- JOL Suspensions