Breathalyzer Refusal Suspensions

Under the Massachusetts implied consent law,  G.L. c. 90, § 24(1)(f)(1),  by operating a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts you are agreeing to submit to a chemical breath or blood test if you are arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol.  If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspended your license at the time of the refusal for at least 180 days, up to life.

First offenders 21 years of age or older will have their licenses suspended for 6 months. 2nd offenders and those under 21 years of age will have their licenses suspended for 3 years. The Mass. RMV will revoke the licenses of 3rd offenders who refuse a breathalyzer for 5 years. Those who refuse a breathalyzer with 3 prior drunk driving convictions or program assignments will have their licenses revoked for life, with no hardship license eligibility.

If the Massachusetts Registry suspends or revokes your license due to a chemical test refusal, you can appeal the loss of your driver’s license within 15 days from the suspension or revocation date. You have to appeal in person at the Driver Control Unit at the Boston Registry of Motor Vehicles Branch during normal business hours. There are limited grounds of appeal. If the Registry denies your breathalzyer refusal appeal, you can appeal further to the District Court having jurisdiction over the location where the operating under the influence offense occurred. This appeal to District Court must be filed within 30 days of the Registry’s decision. The District Court appeal is only a review of the Registry hearing and no new evidence is allowed.

Only first offenders and second chance first offenders, who have resolved their DUI cases pursuant to Commonwealth v. Cahill, 442 Mass. 127, 134 (2004) are entitled to be considered for hardship licenses while chemical test refusal (CTR) suspensions are in effect. The Registry will not grant hardship licenses to second, third, and fourth offenders until the breathalyzer refusal suspensions expire.

In some cases, it may be possible to get your chemical test refusal reduced. Contact a lawyer to see if you qualify for this option.

If you are found not guilty of DUI or your driving under the influence charge was dismissed, you are entitled to a hearing in court regarding your breathalyzer refusal suspension. There is a presumption that your license should be reinstated. However, the prosecutor can overcome that presumption by showing that reinstating your license would endanger public safety.