What is a Massachusetts Hardship License?

In Massachusetts, a hardship license is not a special type of license and it is no different than the Class D license generally granted by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, except that it has an “H” restriction. This restriction is no different than the “B” restriction, which might require a driver to wear corrective lenses, for example. The license itself looks no different than a “regular license” and the only limitation on a hardship license is that the driver is limited to driving during the 12 hour period specified on the hardship license.

A driver who is caught operating outside of the 12 hour period is not considered “operating after suspension,” in violation of G.L. c. 90 § 23, because he or she has a Massachusetts Driver’s License. Instead, the driver is considered operating without a valid license in violation of G.L. c. 90 § 10. The issuance of a hardship license by the Mass. RMV terminates the suspension and grants the driver limited driving privileges.

Some hardship licenses have additional restrictions, such as the “Z” restriction which requires the driver to drive only those vehicles which are equipped with a certified ignition interlock device. Violating the “Z” ignition interlock restriction is a criminal offense and it may result in a 10 year license revocation.

Driving is a privilege and not a right in Massachusetts. This means that the RMV and/or Appeals Board can refuse to grant you a hardship license and you usually have little recourse. Therefore, if you are serious about getting a hardship license, which is only issued for work, school, or medical reasons, you should hire a lawyer to represent you. The Board of Appeal is no place for someone who is appealing a substantial license suspension without a lawyer. The hearings are recorded and certain legal rules apply.

If you have lost your right to drive in Massachusetts, and you have a legitimate need to drive for medical, educational, or occupational reasons, you may want to pursue a hardship license. Call or complete the contact form on this website for more information.