In first offense operating under the influence cases, hardship licenses are easy to obtain and generally they do not require the assistance of an attorney. You can apply for a hardship license a few days after the resolution of your 1st offense Massachusetts DUI case, so long as it was resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D and you have proof of enrollment in the 1st offender alcohol education program. You must apply in person at a full service Registry branch such as the one in Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Lawrence, or Brockton.
In 2002, the Massachusetts Legislature eliminated the 10 year lookback period for prior DUI offenses so that all previous operating under the influence convictions or assignments to alcohol programs count towards drunk driving license suspensions and revocations.
As the number of prior DUI offenses increase, it becomes exponentially more difficult and complicated to obtain a hardship license. Generally speaking, more evidence regarding sobriety and DUI treatment is required. Also, substantial evidence regarding the need to drive is required. The Registry of Motor Vehicles denies thousands of hardship license appeals each year and those who are denied are referred to the Board of Appeal of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance for formal evidentiary hearings. Having an experienced hardship license attorney represent you at this legal proceeding is strongly recommended. You run the risk of being denied hardship relief and having to serve out the balance of your license suspension, which can range from 2 years for 2nd offenders, 8 years for 3rd offenders, and 10 years for 4th offenders.
These DUI license suspensions are imposed in addition to the administrative suspensions which the Registry will impose for breathalzyer or chemical test refusals. These suspensions which the Registry of Motor Vehicles imposes pursuant to the implied consent law, range for 6 months to life. In most cases, there are no hardship licenses available while breath test refusal suspensions are in effect.
For example, if you are a 3rd offender who refused the breathalyzer, you will be required to serve a 5 year chemical test refusal suspension first. Once this is finished, you will commence serving your 8 year OUI revocation, for a total license loss of 13 years.
In Massachusetts, 4th offenders who have refused to submit to a chemical test are generally revoked for life with no ability to be considered for any type of limited, Cinderella, or hardship driving privileges. If this applies to you, the only way to get your license reinstated is to try to vacate a prior DUI conviction or have your chemical test refusal suspension reduced on legal grounds.
When calculating OUI offenses, it is important to recognize that out of state offenses will count as if they had occurred here in Massachusetts and the Registry will do a national search for prior OUI convictions as part of the reinstatement process, whether you are applying for a hardship or full license. It is also important to realize that the Registry will calculate the length of your license suspension and hardship license requirements based on the number of DUI offenses you have on your record and not how the court might have handled your OUi case or how you were charged by the prosecutor. All that matters to the Registry is the number of OUI convictions or alcohol program assignments, regardless of where or when the occurred.