Massachusetts Appeals Court Rules on Suspension Appeal Procedures

appeals_court_massIn the case of Commonwealth v. Bougiokas, which was decided on May 19, 2014, the Massachusetts Appeals Court announced the procedure to be followed to challenge the length of a license suspension for operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In the Bougiokas case, a repeat DUI offender, who happens to be an attorney, sought to appeal the length of his DUI license suspension through the court system. The Appeals Court ruled as follows:

As a result of a new trial on an OUI charge, Bougiokas’ license was suspended for one year, in addition to the 45 day suspension that he already “served” after receiving a § 24D disposition. He argued, before the Appeals Court, with considerable force that since this was still a first offense, the total length of his license suspension should have been limited to one year. The Appeals Court held that “this argument is not properly before us. The trial judge did not actually impose any license suspension. Instead, the defendant’s license suspension resulted by operation of law and administrative practice once the RMV received notice of the conviction. To the extent the defendant believed his license suspension should have been shorter, his potential recourse would have been to seek administrative relief from the RMV.”

This means that the proper course of action to challenge a license suspension is through the Registry of Motor Vehicles Hearing Process and, if necessary, the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. The Board of Appeal has broad powers to reverse, modify, or annul any decision of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, including those decisions pertaining to license suspensions and revocations.  The Appeals Board can also order MassDOT to grant hardship licenses in cases where the Registry initially refuses to so.

Appealing a license suspension or revocation in Massachusetts requires you to follow certain steps, the first of which is to obtain and thoroughly review your driver history. You should contact a lawyer who is routinely practices before the Registry of Motor Vehicles and its Board of Appeal.  Challenging license suspensions has become a specialty due to the complexities of the applicable laws, regulations, and appeal procedures. Most Registry hearings can be held on a “walk-in” basis. However, winning these cases requires adequate case preparation. Having the required documentation and making the right legal argument is critical. Going before the Board of Appeal requires the filing of a written appeal and it takes approximately 2 months to get a hearing before the Appeals Board.

If you are interested in appealing a license suspension in Massachusetts, I invite you to contact me for a free consultation and review of your case.