Hardship licenses issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will bear an “H” restriction, indicating that the license is only valid for a 12 hour period. The particular 12 hour period is listed in the Registry’s computer system and made available to police officers. Also, anyone with 2 or more DUI convictions who is being issued a DUI hardship license will have a “Z” restriction, which means that their right to drive is restricted to only those vehicles which are equipped with certified ignition interlock devices.
Being caught operating outside of hardship hours is not deemed “operating after suspension” or “operating after revocation,” because a new albeit limited license was issued. However, being caught driving outside of your hardship license hours may result in the revocation of the license and the reinstatement of the suspension. Also, operating outside of the 12 hour hardship period constitutes the crime of unlicensed operation, in violation of G.L. c. 90 § 10, which is a criminal offense for which you may be arrested. A conviction for unlicensed operation may trigger a 4 year habitual traffic offender revocation, depending on your record.
Being caught driving on violation of an ignition interlock restriction is a major violation, which the courts, Registry of Motor Vehicles, and Board of Appeal take very seriously. Driving without an interlock device carries a minimum mandatory 6 months in jail, with a possible jail sentence of up to 2 ½ years in addition to a fine of at least $1,000.00 up to $15,000.00. Driving without interlock carries a long-term license revocation of 10 years or lifetime.
Once you are issued a hardship license, it is imperative to drive carefully and in accordance with the terms of your license. It is very difficult to get hardship relief from the Board of Appeal if you’ve been granted a hardship license and picked new violations while on that license, the issuance of which is considered “extraordinary relief.”
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick just signed legislation which increases the penalties for driving without a license in Massachusetts. This was previously viewed as a very minor offense, as compared to the more serious crime of Operating After Suspension or Revocation. Now, a first offense driving without a license conviction carries a fine of at least $100, up to $1,000.00. A conviction for a second offense unlicensed operation charge carries a fine of at least $1,000 up to $2,000.00. Penalties have also been increased for employers who knowingly allow an employee to drive without a valid license, which is a criminal offense. Under the new law, this crime carries a minimum fine of $1,000.00 and as much as $1,500.00 for a second offense. Penalties have also increased for certain types of license fraud which involves the stealing or forging of driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, or RMV identification cards.