A gentleman recently appeared before the Board of Appeal with a lawyer to attempt to get hardship relief on a National Driver Register (NDR) indefinite suspension, which originated out of Rhode Island, for a chemical test refusal. In Rhode Island, refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test is a civil violation, for which sanctions are imposed.
I found it strange that this attorney would have come before the Board during the pendency of an active out of state suspension, especially where his client was not afforded any hardship relief in Rhode Island, where the breathalyzer refusal suspension originated. This is because the RI DMV does not issue hardship, limited, restricted, or work licenses under any circumstances.
Further, the client was recently laid off from his job as an engineer and he’s collecting unemployment assistance. Thus, this applicant for a hardship license does not have an employment-related hardship. The Massachusetts Appeals Board does not grant work licenses to the unemployed. Instead, the Board requires a letter from the applicant’s employer, proof of self employment, or documented job offer stating that the applicant would be hired if her or she obtains a hardship license.
Next, the lawyer claimed that all of the Rhode Island records associated with the DUI have been expunged and destroyed. This argument overlooks the fact that any expungement or sealing does not apply to Massachusetts records or the block in the National Driver Register. The official records of the Registrar showed that the applicant was arrested for DUI and refused a breath test. They also showed that the man was indefinitely blocked in the National Driver Register. Under reciprocity, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles in Massachusetts is required to give full faith and credit to this NDR block. Under these circumstances, the Board of Appeal will not force the Registry to override the NDR block and issue a hardship license. Instead, the client must satisfy the RI DMV and get the NDR indefinite hold removed. Only when the NDR reflects that he is eligible, can the Registry grant him driver’s license.
Incidentally, this out of state DUI will trigger a 1 year suspension in Massachusetts, under the law that requires the RMV to treat out of state DUI offenses as if they had occurred here in the Commonwealth. It may be possible to reduce this 1 year suspension or get a hardship license, once the RI NDR block is removed.