If the Mass. Registry receives information indicating that your continued operation of a Motor Vehicle in Massachusetts would result in an immediate threat to public safety, the Registrar has the right to immediately revoke your driver’s license for an indefinite period of time. The purpose of this procedure is to promptly remove a driver from the roadway if he or she has been determined to represent an immediate threat to the safety of the public. MassDOT indefinitely revokes approximately 1,500 licenses each year under the immediate threat law.
Immediate threat suspensions are not confined to driver’s licenses. This means that the RMV can revoke your vehicle’s registration if a hearings officer determines that continued operation of the motor vehicle would pose an immediate threat to public safety.
When your license or right to operate is suspended under the immediate threat law, the Registry will review your entire driving record and a history of poor driving is a factor that may count against you at a reinstatement hearing. A history showing surchargeable accidents and responsible findings for civil motor vehicle law infractions can be used to justify the revocation of your license. These revocations can also be based on a serious single event, even where the driver has an otherwise clean record.
Immediate threat suspensions result from car accidents, police pursuits, dangerous driving, erratic operation, medical conditions, seizures, and loss of consciousness while operating a vehicle. These suspensions are initiated by law enforcement officials or healthcare providers. Often an immediate threat suspension is tied to a criminal case. In these situations, you must generally resolve the criminal case prior to trying to reinstate your license from the indefinite immediate threat revocation.
Getting the criminal charges dismissed or a not guilty verdict does not mean that the immediate threat license suspension will go away. The standard of proof in criminal court is “beyond a reasonable doubt” and the standard of proof at the Registry is the preponderance of the evidence, which means “more likely than not.” Also, RMV hearings are administrative in nature and the technicalities associated with criminal court proceedings do not apply. Finally, these suspensions are not designed as punishment. Instead, they are supposed to protect the public from an allegedly dangerous driver. Thus, even if the criminal case was resolved in your favor, you will still have to fight to get your license back.
Unfortunately, no hardship licenses are available for these suspensions. You will either get a full reinstatement or the indefinite revocation will remain in effect. The rationale for the hardship license prohibition is that if a driver is a danger, he or she should not be allowed to drive at all, not even for a 12 hour period.