Out of State DUI Convictions & your Massachusetts License

Getting your Massachusetts Driver’s License reinstated from an out of state DUI suspension or revocation can be a very frustrating process. This is because you must satisfy the reinstatement requirements of the jurisdiction where the DUI offense occurred as well as the requirements of MassDOT.

You cannot get a Massachusetts Hardship or Cinderella license while your right to operate a motor vehicle is under suspension or revocation in any other state or jurisdiction. This means that you cannot get an DUI in New Hampshire, for example, and then get a Mass. Hardship License while the State of New Hampshire has your driving privileges under suspension in that state. Instead, you must satisfy all outstanding obligations to the State of New Hampshire, which may include an SR-22 Insurance Certificate, which proves to the Financial Responsibility Section of the NH DMV that you have adequate liability coverage.

You can reinstate in Massachusetts only when your outstanding obligations to the other state has been satisfied. However, your troubles usually do not end there. This is because the Mass. Registry will penalize you for an out of state DUI conviction or motor vehicle infraction as if the incident had occurred here in Massachusetts. This means that in addition to whatever penalty you served in the state where the conviction occurred, you must serve the penalty imposed by Massachusetts Law.

Fortunately, in many cases, there are ways to avoid or reduce the suspension imposed by MassDOT for out of state convictions. However, this requires a Registry Hearing and situations like this must be handled on a case-by-case basis. The first step in this process is to collect all relevant court documentation from the state where the offense occurred. Examples of important items to collect and retain include a copy of the court docket or an abstract showing the charges, offense date, disposition date, and outcome of the case.

If you need assistance dealing with an out of state DUI, please contact my office for a consultation and review of your situation. My office has successfully worked with out of state DUI lawyers to achieve the best outcome in these cases, so as to avoid or reduce the suspension and revocation consequences.


The Connecticut Pretrial Alcohol Education Program

ct_licenseFirst offenders in the State of Connecticut may be eligible to participate in the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program, which is administered by the Connecticut Superior Court. This program consists of at least 10 alcohol or substance abuse counseling sessions and a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel. The program is overseen by the state and it is delivered by twelve authorized providers. Eligibility for this DUI program is limited first offenders and second offenders whose first drunk driving offense is more than 10 years old. A substance abuse evaluation is mandatory as a condition of entry into the program.  Successful completion of this Pretrial Alcohol Education Program results in the DUI charges being dismissed by the court. This dismissal will occur approximately one year after your assignment to the AEP. Dismissal is mandatory upon successful completion of the program.

The goal of the Pretrial Alcohol Education Program is to reduce DUI recidivism through education. One of the benefits of this pre-trial diversion program to participants is that participation is possible without having to plead guilty and successful program completion will result in a dismissal of the charges by the court.  When your DUI is dismissed, it will be removed from your criminal record. However, the fact that you were assigned to and completed the AEP will remain on your driving record and this may have consequences for licensing and insurance.

Unfortunately, if you are a Massachusetts resident who commits a DUI in the State of Connecticut, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles discovers or is notified of your DUI arrest and resulting assignment to an alcohol education program, the Registry will treat it as an OUI conviction and suspend your Massachusetts Driver’s License for one year as a first offense, two years for a second offense, eight years for a third offense, ten years for a fourth offense, and life for a fifth or subsequent offense.

Like Massachusetts, Connecticut offers hardship licenses to those offenders who meet the state’s qualifications. This Connecticut alcohol education program is similar to the Massachusetts 24D program, which is available to first offenders and “second chance” first offenders, whose prior DUI conviction occurred more than 10 years before the second offense.

Habitual Traffic Offender Appeals

hto_revocationThe Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will revoke your driver’s license / right to operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts for a period of 4 years, pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 22F, if you are determined to be a Habitual Traffic Offender under Massachusetts law. You can be considered a Habitual Traffic Offender if you have 3 major violations such as drunk driving, operating after suspension, reckless driving, operating so as to endanger, or leaving the scene of an accident within any five (5) year period.

You can also be considered a Habitual Traffic Offender, and have your license revoked for 4 years, if you have 12 minor violations in any 5-year period. Minor violations are motor vehicle infractions such as speeding, failure to stop, improper passing, failure to stay within marked lanes, failure to yield to a pedestrian, etc… At fault accidents do not count towards Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offender revocations.

If MassDOT has declared you to be a Habitual Traffic Offender and your license or right to drive has been revoked, you must stop operating motor vehicles until your license is reinstated. When you are eligible for reinstatement, the RMV will require you to pay a $500.00 reinstatement fee.

You have the legal right to a hearing prior to your license being revoked under the Habitual Traffic Offender law and you have the right to be represented by counsel. The Registry only holds HTO revocation hearings at the following branches: Braintree, Worcester, Springfield, Lawrence, Fall River, Wilmington and 136 Blackstone St., Boston, MA, 3rd Floor. You must appear by 11:00 A.M. should you desire a hearing.

Issues at Massachusetts HTO hearings are limited to the accuracy of your driving record or the HTO law incorrectly applied. To challenge the accuracy of your record, you must provide a certified motor vehicle abstract or finding from the court showing that the judgement is not correct. A lawyer may be able to assist you with this. The HTO hearing will not address whether you agree with the court finding. There is no requirement to attend the Registry hearing if your record is accurate and the revocation is legally valid.

The RMV will not consider you for a hardship license or early reinstatement until you have served at least one full year the four-year revocation period. When applying for a hardship license at the Registry, there must be absolutely no evidence of vehicle operation.

You can appeal Habitual Traffic Offender revocations to the Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds, which is located at 1000 Washington Street, 8th Floor, Boston, Massachusetts. A lawyer may be able to assist you with your appeal.

MADD to hold Rally at Statehouse

Tomorrow at 10:00 AM, Mothers Against Drunk Driving will be holding a rally and ignition interlock demonstration on the steps of the Massachusetts Statehouse. The purpose of this event is to demonstrate support for Senate Bill 2445 which will eliminate all DUI hardship license waiting periods and allow repeat offenders to immediately seek license reinstatements. The Bill eliminates all DUI statutory minimum suspension periods, regardless of the number of drunk driving convictions an offender has. It allows the Registry to issue ignition interlock restricted licenses to all drunk drivers, regardless of the number of prior convictions and/or chemical test refusals.

If enacted, this bill will allow those whose licenses have been revoked for life due to breathalyzer refusals to be considered for the immediate issuance of full time driver’s license. Currently repeat offenders are prohibited from being issued a driver’s license while breathalyzer refusal suspensions are in effect. This proposed legislation will allow all those who have refused a breath test, regardless of the person’s driving record, to be immediately considered for the issuance of an ignition interlock restricted license, with no minimum mandatory waiting period.

Senate Bill 2445 will allow those who have been refused licenses by the Registry of Motor Vehicles or Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance to be re-considered for licensure, without having to serve any additional suspension time.

This legislation will allow repeat DUI offenders to satisfy the Registry’s alcohol education program requirement by simply enrolling in the 24D 1st offender program. Repeat drunk drivers will no longer be required to complete the 14 day in-patient residential program in Tewksbury or a 90 day in-patient alcohol program. Instead, if the new law passes, the first offender out-patient program will be acceptable, no matter how many DUI convictions the offender has on his or her record.

Senate to Debate Ignition Interlock License Bill

On Saturday, July 23, 2016 the Massachusetts State Senate is scheduled to debate a Bill which would remove the waiting periods for hardship licenses and allow those who refused to submit to a chemical test or those who fail a breathalyzer test to immediately obtain ignition-interlock-restricted licenses.

If passed, the law will also allow those convicted of DUI, DUI causing serious bodily injury, and Motor Vehicle Homicide involving alcohol, to appeal their licenses suspensions to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and be considered for full time license reinstatements, without having to serve any minimum-mandatory suspension periods. Any license issued under this law would have a mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) requirement.

Under the proposed legislation, the Registry retains the authority to establish requirements and restrictions in addition to mandatory use of the IID. The proposed legislation requires completion of any jail or prison sentence as well as enrollment in an approved alcohol education program.

For those DUI offenders who are on probation, any violation of the terms and conditions of probation would result in the immediate revocation of the ignition interlock license.

Currently, repeat DUI offenders in Massachusetts are required to install a certified ignition interlock device in any vehicle which the repeat offender owns, leases, or operates. This law appears to remove that requirement and it only requires IID installation in any vehicle which the drunk driving offender operates. Therefore, it appears possible for a driver with an ignition interlock license to be able to legally own and lease a vehicle not equipped with a certified IID, so long as the offender does not drive that vehicle.

If enacted, this legislation will allow repeat DUI offenders to be considered for ignition interlock licenses regardless of the number of prior drunk driving convictions the offender has. It also makes ignition interlock licenses available to those who have been convicted of vehicular homicide and those who have permanently lost their driving privileges due to breathalyzer refusals with multiple prior operating under the influence convictions.

Once the Bill is passed in the Senate, it still needs to be passed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and signed by the Governor. Assuming that it passes and is enacted, it is scheduled to take effect on January 1st of next year.

Common Hardship License Denial Reasons

There are many reasons why you may be denied a hardship license either at the Registry of Motor Vehicles or the Board of Appeal. Some denial reasons include: recent evidence of operating after suspension, the lack of adequate paperwork or documentary evidence, recent criminal activity, probation violations, a high breathalyzer reading, prior hardship relief, a high risk of recidivism / relapse, failure to satisfy treatment goals, a court-ordered license suspension, being blocked in the National Driver Register (NDR) and an inadequate showing of hardship.

Effective case preparation is essential to avoid being denied a hardship license for one of the above-listed reasons. One of the services that my office provides to our clients is a complete review of your situation prior to your Board of Appeal hearing. We work to anticipate and address potential problems and pitfalls as part of a case screening process. This will reduce your chances of being refused relief and increase your chances of success before the Board.

You should satisfy all unpaid obligations prior to your hearing before the Board of Appeal. This includes parking tickets, excise tax, and registry defaults. Any relief afforded will be contingent upon satisfying these obligations and paying them in advance of your hearing shows responsibility and that you are serious about obtaining a hardship license.

You should be prepared to explain anything that appears on your criminal record and any open or closed restraining orders. The Registry’s advocate and the Board members will be on the lookout for anything that suggests an alcohol problem or substance abuse issue, even if it does not relate to the operation of a motor vehicle.

Between the time your appeal is filed and your hearing is scheduled, you will have time to review your driving record, criminal record, Registry documents and your court records. My office can assist with this review as part of the case preparation process. Do not take a chance before the Board of Appeal without adequate preparation. Appearing unprepared could result in denial which would require you to serve the full suspension with no relief.

Fatal Accident Preliminary Revocations

FAPWhenever a person is involved in a fatal motor car accident, the investigating police department is required to promptly notify the Driver Control Unit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles. When the Registry receives this “fatal accident preliminary” notification, after a review of the facts and circumstances, pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 29, the RMV has the right to summarily and indefinitely revoke your Mass. Driver’s license. This revocation occurs immediately without any advance notice. In these cases, MassDOT usually faxes the revocation letter to your hometown police department and requests that a police officer hand-deliver the letter to you at your home address. A copy of the indefinite revocation letter is also mailed to current address on file with the Registry.

Under the law, unless an initial investigation shows that the driver may not have caused the accident, the Registry is required to indefinitely revoke the driver’s license. Anyone who has his or her license revoked under the fatal accident preliminary law, has the legal right to a hearing before a Registry Hearings Officer on the question of whether or not the driver who lost his license was at fault in the accident. The driver must be afforded an adequate opportunity to demonstrate that the accident occurred “without serious fault” on his part. However, this opportunity is provided after the revocation notice is issued and the driver’s license is indefinitely revoked. The best location for a Fatal Accident Preliminary hearing is the Driver Control Unit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles at 136 Blackstone Street, 3rd Floor, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Because a fatality occurred, the Registry is often hesitant to reinstate the driver’s license of someone involved in this type of accident. Often, the Registry will wait for completion of the accident reconstruction and investigation. This could take many months, a year, or even longer. Absolutely no hardship or Cinderella license is available for this type of suspension. However, if you are unsatisfied with the outcome of the RMV hearing, you have the right to appeal the decision to the Division of Insurance, Board of Appeal.

An experienced lawyer who specializes in these matters may be able to help you get your driver’s license reinstated, without having to wait for the conclusion of the accident reconstruction, investigation, and a decision from the District Attorney’s Office regarding criminal prosecution.

No Hardship Available for Immediate Threat Revocation

Lately, my office has received numerous hardship license inquiries from people who have had their licenses indefinitely taken away due to Immediate Threat Medical and Complaint Medical revocations. Unfortunately, under these circumstances, no hardship or Cinderella license is available. The rationale for denying hardship relief on immediate threat and medical suspensions is that if a particular driver represents a danger or threat to public safety, he or she should not be driving at all. Therefore, the only way to regain your right to drive is to obtain a full license reinstatement.

In many cases, as soon as a driver is notified that the Registry of Motor Vehicles has indefinitely revoked his or her right to operate due to an immediate threat medical complaint, the driver asks his or her physician to write a letter to the Registry stating that the person is medically fit to safely operate a motor vehicle. This is the wrong approach. The Registry has specific forms that address medical problems, psychological and mental health issues, vision, and loss of consciousness. Instead of writing a generic letter, the driver’s treating physician, psychiatrist, optometrist, or psychiatric nurse practitioner should complete the appropriate forms. Additionally, the medical professional should only complete the forms after he or she has carefully read the immediate threat complaint. A letter written or form completed by a treatment provider who is unfamiliar with the facts and circumstances alleged in the complaint will carry little to no weight at a reinstatement hearing.

Dealing with immediate threat and complaint medical suspensions can be frustrating and confusing. Hiring a lawyer can simplify the process and increase your chances of getting your Massachusetts Driver’s License fully reinstated. The first step in these situations is to obtain a copy of the report which was filed with the Registry. In most cases, these reports are filed by police officers who witness dangerous driving, accidents, or other incidents which give rise to a safety concern. Although these indefinite license suspensions are not supposed to be punitive, getting them resolved can often be difficult and time consuming. The Registry errs on the side of caution and hearings officers are largely unsympathetic regarding the difficulties associated with the unexpected loss of a driver’s license.

RMV Drug Suspension Removal Procedures

Procedures to be followed by RMV Hearings Officers

94C offenders seeking relief will join the hearings queue as any other customer.

Hearing Officer will correct off (TRE) any 94C suspensions, trafficking not included.  The correction (TRE) will automatically eliminate the reinstatement fee associated with the 94C violation.

Hearing officer will enter uniform file note:

94C legislation – suspension cleared

Hearing officer will advise customer of their individual next steps. Example of next steps:

  • Order duplicate driver’s license
  • Take permit test, road test
  • Advise hardship customers they may receive a 24/7 license by paying duplicate fee
  • Advise customer the 94C reinstatement fee is waived, but they owe $___ for any other expired suspensions
  • Advise customer they have additional active suspensions preventing reinstatement at this time

As is done today, the Hearing Officer will provide print-outs to customer for branch staff on related fees owed and transactions the customer is now eligible to/required to perform

Hearing Officer will direct customers to Green Line if eligible for additional transactions today.

Anyone seeking a shielded driving record– will not be available until October. The legislation requires shielding of all drug offenses (except trafficking), all expired warrants and all expired child support obligations. The law gives the Registry 6 months to implement.

Procedures to be followed by RMV Customer Service Reps.

94C offenders seeking relief will join the hearings queue as any other customer

Customer will have hearing

Customer will return to Green Line and join established queue

Customer will present to CSR with information on any fee owed and their desired transaction

Branch will process according to policy. The only change is that you will NOT collect a 94C reinstatement fee

To allow for uniform data collection and tracking, please enter the following into override log:

94C legislation-suspension fee waived

Quick reminders:

The customer is required to pay a duplicate license fee or renewal fee

The customer is required to pay the permit fee and road test fee

Customers who previously paid a 94C reinstatement fee are NOT eligible for a refund. The legislation does not provide for this.

Customers needing a road test will schedule using the established procedure.

License Reinstatements for MA Drug Offenders

On March 30, 2016, Governor Baker signed into law “An Act Relative to Motor Vehicle License Suspension” making operators with certain prior drug convictions eligible for immediate license reinstatement. For more information on how impacted customers may begin the license reinstatement process, please see the suspensions section of MassRMV.com.  Customers seeking reinstatement must visit a branch and see a hearings officer. In addition, the RMV is preparing to mail individualized letters to certain impacted customers on their specific reinstatement steps and requirements.  All persons who believe they are eligible for relief under this new law should update their address with the RMV immediately.

An Act Relative to Motor Vehicle License Suspensionwas signed by Governor Baker on Wednesday, March 30, 2016. The law allows for the immediate license reinstatement for operators with certain prior drug convictions. Since the late 1980s, the law called for the RMV to impose an automatic license suspension for convictions under Mass General Law Chapter 94C. The new legislation eliminates suspensions for all drug offenses except for trafficking in a controlled substance (except for Marijuana Trafficking). In order to serve the customers who may now be eligible for reinstatement, the RMV intends to mail letters to provide certain impacted individuals with personalized actions steps toward license reinstatement. The steps for license reinstatement will vary depending upon each individual’s record. An individual with any active, non-drug related suspensions may not be eligible for reinstatement. In order to be reinstated, customers must visit an RMV Branch offering suspension hearings and meet with a hearings officer. Hearings are held on a walk-in, first come serve basis in the following locations, please note that service hours vary by location. Locations/Service hours are below.

The legislation waives reinstatement fees only. Customers seeking reinstatement will be required to pay permit and road test fees, if the customer has been suspended for more than two-years. As a matter of public safety, and accordance with existing Registry policy, all operators who have been suspended for more than two-years or have had an expired licenses for more than four-years, are required to take the written permit test at a branch location as well as a road test. License duplicate or license renewal fees also apply to all customers seeking reinstatement.

The following forms of payment are accepted for all the transactions listed below: Cash, check (payable to MassDOT), money order, or credit/debit card.

  • Permit/Written Test $30
  • Road Test $35
  • Class D/Passenger Duplicate License $25
  • Class D/Passenger License Renewal $50 (customers may renew up to one year in advance of expiration)

The legislation does not provide for reimbursement, or a refund, of reinstatement fees previously paid on 94C offenses.

The legislation requires the RMV to shield from public release any drug offenses, expect for those convicted of trafficking in a controlled substance, as well as any expired warrants or expired child support obligations. The legislation provides the RMV with 6 months to complete this technical phase of the project. Shielded records will not be available until October of 2016. Any driving record ordered prior to October 2016 will contain drug offenses and both historical and current warrant and child support obligation information.

Customers also must address any outstanding financial obligations such as any state or excise taxes, child support payments, parking tickets, or E-ZPass violations.

Branches with Hearing Hours:

  • Boston, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm
  • Braintree, Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday from 9am to 5pm, Thursdays 10am to 5pm
  • Fall River, Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday from 9am to 5pm, Thursdays 10am to 5pm
  • Lawrence, Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday from 9am to 5pm, Thursdays 10am to 5pm
  • Pittsfield, Wednesdays, 9am to 4pm
  • South Yarmouth, Monday & Tuesday, 9am to 5pm
  • Springfield, Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday from 9am to 5pm, Thursdays 10am to 5pm
  • Wilmington, Monday & Tuesday, 9am to 5pm
  • Worcester, Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Friday from 9am to 5pm, Thursdays 10am to 5pm

If you are denied reinstatement under this law, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer and to appeal the denial to the Board of Appeal.