New Ignition Interlock Bill Proposed

statehouseThere is currently a bill pending at the Massachusetts Statehouse which would replace the current hardship licensing program with ignition interlock licenses. If enacted, this bill would require first offenders to have ignition interlock restricted licenses and it would also allow all repeat DUI offenders, regardless of the number of prior drunk driving convictions appearing on the person’s record, to apply for an “ignition interlock license.”

Senator James Timility of Walpole sponsored the bill and it is currently under consideration by the Joint Committee on Transportation. A hearing on the proposed legislation was conducted in November of last year and it has received some media attention.

The proposed law has no waiting periods for these licenses so that DUI offenders could apply to MassDOT immediately after conviction. The proposed legislation also allows for the issuance of IID restricted licenses during chemical test refusal suspensions. Currently, repeat offenders who refused  breath tests are not able to get hardship licenses while the breathalyzer refusal suspension is in effect. The proposed law would, if passed, would allow someone who is arrested for DUI to seek a driver’s license while the DUI case is being litigated. Refusal suspensions range in length from 6 months up to lifetime.

The basis for the proposed law change is statistics which show that many convicted drunk drivers who have had their driver’s licenses suspended or revoked continue to drive anyway. The theory behind the bill is that the public will be protected because these drivers will be able to lawfully drive, so long as they are only operating ignition interlock device equipped motor vehicles. The IID  would prevent the person’s vehicle from starting if his blood alcohol level registered at or above .02. Evidence of circumvention, disconnection, and/or failed rolling retests result in the driver being called in for a hearing.

The bill basically terminates drunk driving license suspensions generated by convictions, alcohol education program assignments, pleas, and breath test refusals with the issuance of ignition interlock restricted licenses. Unlike Massachusetts hardship licenses, which are valid only for 12 hours each day, these restricted driver’s licenses would be valid for 24 hours a day. It basically replaces hardship licenses with interlock licenses and allows offenders to apply for these licenses immediately, with no waiting period. Offenders would have a choice – agree to enroll in the IID program or give up the right to drive. These devices cost approximately $100.00 per month and they must be monitored, calibrated, and downloaded on a monthly basis.

Ignition Interlocks are not new to Massachusetts. We have been using them here since Melanie’s Law was enacted on January 1, 2006. Currently, all repeat OUI offenders must use the IID for the entire term of any hardship license and for a minimum of 2 full years after getting the hours removed and obtaining a fulltime right to operate.

Surchargeable Events License Suspensions

If you receive a letter indicating that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles intends to suspend your Driver’s License and/or right to operate a motor vehicle, I invite you to contact my office for a free review of your situation. Depending on your driving record, you may be able to avoid the loss of your license or right to drive.

If you receive a notice of intent to suspend for thee surchargeable incidents, you can prevent the indefinite license suspension from going into effect if you take and pass an approved Driver Retraining Program within 90 days of issuance of the notice of intent to suspend. If the suspension is valid, and you fail to complete the required course in time, G.L. c. 175 § 113B authorizes the RMV to indefinitely suspend your license and right to drive in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The suspension will remain in place until you successfully complete the National Safety Council (NSC) driver re-training program. If you are required to complete the class to avoid the loss of your license, within 10 days of receipt of the Registry’s suspension notice, the NSC will send a registration packet to the mailing address which is on file with the Registry. If you have multiple surchargeable event suspensions, the Registry may require you to take the class several times. You may be able to take the course on-line, after completing it in person.

Taking the course will not prevent a 60 suspension for 7 surchargeable events or a 4 year Habitual Traffic Offender Revocation. If you are facing one of these, you should contact a lawyer for a free consultation and review of your situation. It is sometimes possible to completely avoid these license losses, shorten their duration, or get a limited hardship license which allows you to legally operate for 12 hours a day.

Once your license is suspended for revoked for surchargeable events, you will be required to pay a $100.00 reinstatement fee. If your license is revoked under the Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offender Statute, G.L. c. 90 § 22F, you will be required to pay a $500.00 reinstatement fee.

Most importantly, if you have received a suspension notice, you do have the right to a hearing and you have the right to be represented by an attorney at that hearing. The Registry holds hearings on a walk-in basis at Customer Service Centers located in Braintree, Lawrence, Springfield, Worcester and 136 Blackstone Street, Boston, 3rd floor. If you have questions regarding a license loss, you can contact the Suspension Department of the Mass. RMV at 857-368-8200. The Registry’s general customer service number is 857-368-8000.

License Suspensions for JOL Speeding Violations

The Massachusetts Legislature has enacted harsh penalties for those under 18 years of age who are cited for speeding and hardship relief is not available from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Massachusetts has adopted a graduated license system, pursuant to which a licensed operators under the age of 18 are deemed “junior operators.” Holders of this type of license face harsh penalties for speeding violations, unauthorized passengers, and driving during restricted hours.

For example, under Massachusetts law, the holder of a Junior Operator’s License who is found responsible for speeding with automatically have his or her driver’s license suspended for 90 days for a first speeding offense and 1 year for a second offense.

The RMV imposes stringent reinstatement requirements for these suspensions. Unless the Board of Appeal rules otherwise, to reinstate you must complete the “Attitude Retraining Program,” pay a $500.00 Driver’s License Reinstatement Fee, and re-take both written and road tests. You must also attend and successfully complete the State Courts Against Road Rage (SCARR) program.

Hearings at the Registry on these license suspensions are limited only to the accuracy of the customer’s driving record. All other issues must be appealed to the Division of Insurance, Board of Appeal, which has the legal authority to afford relief in the form of elimination of the reinstatement requirements, shortening the suspension, or granting a 12 hour hardship driver’s license.

In JOL speeding cases, the Board of Appeal uses its powers sparingly. In order to convince the Board to grant you relief, you must have a very compelling case. The Board members generally agree with the Registry’s position that young drivers should learn early on about the consequences of bad driving, so that they will be responsible drivers. Also, JOL holders may have difficulty establishing that they have a hardship which is sufficient enough to obtain relief from the Registry’s Appellate Board. A lawyer may be able to help convince the Board to render a favorable decision.


Admissions to Sufficient Facts

In accordance with G.L. c. 278 § 18, you may be able to avoid a DUI conviction by making an admission to sufficient facts instead of pleading guilty. If you are able to resolve your operating under the influence case in this manner, your case will be continued without a finding and eventually dismissed. This might sound like a great option. However, under Mass. law, the continuance without a finding (CWOF) and dismissal will be counted as a conviction if you are arrested for another OUI in the future. This is because the law treats drug or alcohol program assignments and admissions to sufficient facts just like convictions for license suspension and automobile insurance surcharge purposes.

Not all cases are eligible to be CWOF’ed. For example, Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident after causing Personal Injury, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and subsequent offense OUI, some 2nd offense OUI cases (where the 1st offense disposition is less than 10 year from the 1st offense), Motor Vehicle Homicide, and OUI causing Serious Bodily Injury. In order to get a continuance without a finding for DUI, the case must be resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D.

If you are not legally entitled to a G.L. c. 90 § 24D disposition, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will not honor the 45-90 day loss of license imposed by the court. Instead, the RMV will suspend your license based on your record of prior convictions, such as 2 years for a 2nd offense and 8 years for a 3rd offense.

For drunk driving offenses committed on or after July 1, 2012, a prior CWOF will count as a conviction when calculating the length of chemical test refusal (CTR) suspensions. This means that if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer after having been previously arrested for DUI, your license will be suspended for 3 years for the refusal, if the prior case was resolved by a guilty finding, 24D disposition, or CWOF, even if the first offense was eventually dismissed after a alcohol education program assignment.

Although an admission to sufficient facts and CWOF will count as a conviction for license suspension purposes, it does not constitute a conviction for other purposes. For example, it will not automatically disqualify you from being issued a License to Carry Firearms in Massachusetts and it is not considered a DWI conviction for employment purposes.

The DUIL Discharge Summary

In Massachusetts, most repeat DUI offenders are ordered to attend and successfully complete the Middlesex DUIL Program, which is a 14 day residential alcohol treatment program located in Tewksbury, Massachusetts on the grounds of the old Tewksbury State Hospital. The DUIL Program is divided into 2 phases. The first phase is the in-patient phase and the second phase consists of out-patient aftercare. The DUlL Program is a 14-day residential program for individuals who are referred by their probation officer for intensive alcohol and drug education and treatment. Individuals attending the program receive a comprehensive substance abuse evaluation, individual and group counseling, alcohol and drug education, and self-help meetings.

Upon completion of Phase I of the program, you will receive a Discharge Summary and Aftercare Plan, as well as completion letter.  The discharge summary will rate your level of participation, attitude, motivation level, and risk of recidivism. Everyone gets a “high” risk of recidivism after completion of Phase I and both the Registry and Board of Appeal understand this. The goal is to get a low risk of recidivism when you are evaluated after completing Phase II, which is the aftercare component of the DUIL program.

The Phase I Discharge Summary and Aftercare Plan will discuss your “stage of change” and make recommendations regarding AA and other self-help meeting attendance. The initial DUIL Discharge Reports usually state as follows “Patient would benefit from continued addiction education and treatment, individual and or group counseling, and obtainment of a self-help support system. His prognosis should improve provided he remains sober and attends self-help meetings regularly. The recommendations above could help reduce his risk of recidivism if implemented and maintained. His license to operate a motor vehicle should be contingent on his sobriety and not based solely on this report.”

Because everyone initially gets a “high risk of recidivism,” you should not be discouraged by this and you should work hard to earn a low risk of recidivism on the final discharge summary. You can do this by fully participating in group and individual therapy sessions and by showing genuine insight into your alcohol issue and what caused your situation.

Denied a Hardship License by the Registry?

Just because the Registry of Motor Vehicles has denied you a hardship license, that doesn’t mean that you cannot get one. You have the legal right to appeal any license denial, suspension, or revocation to a 3 member appellate board known as the Board of Appeal. This Board has the power to overrule hardship license denials and it can order the Mass. RMV to issue you a hardship license even if you do not satisfy all of the Registry’s requirements for licensure.

The Board of Appeal hearing process is much more formal and involved, as compared to appearing before a Registry Hearings Officer at a walk in hearing. These hearings must be scheduled in advance and preparation is essential. You have the right to be represented by legal counsel and hiring the right lawyer often makes the difference between winning and losing.

The hearing process is somewhat “adversarial,” meaning that a representative from the Suspension Department of the Mass. Registry will attempt to convince the Board of Appeal that you should not be granted a hardship license or a reinstatement of your full license. The Registry’s representative will present your driving and criminal records to the Board. He or she may make legal arguments to support the Registry’s decision.

After the Registry completes its presentation of the case, you and your lawyer will have an opportunity to submit any documents which you want the Board to consider and you can make legal and factual arguments to support your appeal. In every hardship license appeal which I handle, I submit a detailed legal memorandum which explains why the Board should reinstate your right to operate and/or grant you a hardship driver’s license.

If the Registry has denied you a hardship license or refused to reinstate your license, I invite you to contact my office for a free consultation and review of your case. After speaking with a lawyer, you will know exactly where you stand and what can be done to get you back on the road.

No Hardship License for NDR Suspension

NDR_CLEARANCEIn out of state suspension cases, the first step to restoring your Massachusetts Driver’s License is to reinstate your driving privileges in the state where the violation occurred. Your right to operate must be restored in the other state prior to attempting to get your license back here in Massachusetts because it is impossible to get a hardship, work, or limited license in Massachusetts while your right to drive is suspended elsewhere. You must be in good standing in the National Driver Register prior to having your Mass. license restored, either on a part-time or full time basis.

Many drivers who have lost their right to drive in Massachusetts due to an out of state DUI or other violation call my office looking for a way to have MassDOT override an indefinite NDR revocation. This is generally not possible. Massachusetts is required to give full faith and credit to out of state suspensions and revocations, just as other states are required to respect license actions taken by the Mass. RMV. Therefore, you must have the state where the problem originated remove the NDR block prior to trying to get your license back in your home state. The Registry will not grant hardship driving permits under any circumstances unless the applicant is eligible in the NDR and there is no way around this.

Once your rights are restored in the state where the conviction entered or the disqualification occurred, that does not mean that your troubles are over. Once the Mass. Registry discovers an out of state, or even an out of country, conviction for a motor vehicle law violation, the RMV will apply that to your driving record and once that happens, a new license suspension will automatically be generated. When this happens, I may be able to help you reduce or eliminate the loss of license, depending on the particular situation. Please contact me to see how my office can help you get your license restored.

Work Licenses for 3rd Offense DUI

Massachusetts Work License for OUI 3rdMost DUI 3rd offenders in Massachusetts end up at the Board of Appeal for work license consideration instead of the Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles. This is because the RMV’s suspension department requires proof of completion of a ninety (90) day in-patient (residential) DUI treatment program, which is approved by the Department of Public Health. If you have not completed this specific alcohol program, the Registry will not grant you any type of work or hardship license. However, the Registry is not the only game in town.

The Division of Insurance Board of Appeal has the legal authority to grant you a hardship license even if you do not meet the Registry’s strict requirements. I have personally obtained hardship licenses from the Board of Appeal for third offenders who have only completed a first offender program such as the 24D Driver Alcohol Education Program. In these cases, where the applicant does not have the proper program, it is imperative to provide sufficient documentation to satisfy the Appeals Board that the driver does not represent a danger to public safety and that his or her alcoholism has been brought under control.

There are likely countless drivers suffering needlessly, with 8 year license revocations, when they could be driving lawfully. It’s not easy to get a hardship license with 3 drunk driving convictions. However, it is certainly not impossible. You must go for an alcohol evaluation, which my office can arrange, and you will be required to use the ignition interlock during your revocation period and for at least 24 months after the removal of the “H” (hours) restriction from your driver’s license. Use of the IID is mandatory if you are a Massachusetts resident and there are no exceptions.

Having proper documentation and effective legal representation can be essential when seeking a Cinderella license. If you have an 8 year OUI 3rd offense license loss, I invite you to contact me for a free review of your situation and assessment of your chances of success at the Board of Appeal.

Some Client Reviews

If you have recently been denied a “hardship license ” thru the Registry and are thinking about hiring a attorney to help you get back on the road,  I strongly recommend Attorney Brian E. Simoneau,  a friend who was in the similar circumstances with a 3yr loss of license mentioned him. Attorney Simoneau, knows the entire process, I used his website and he returned my call and email promptly, he has an extensive exhausting list of things that need to be done, but I assure you that you are in good hands with him. I was facing a 3yr loss of license because of chemical test refusal and loss of a job, without Attorney Simoneau that would of happened. I am happy to say that we received a favorable decision in my favor and I am back behind the wheel thanks to his experience and professionalism.  Attorney (Brian ) Simoneau is a person who will fight for you.  I am not writing this because I was asked by him, people need to know about the man.
Thanks again,
Jim M.
Millbury, Mass.
  • “Hi Brian,  happy to say I went to registry and was able to get reinstated.  Just saying Thanks again for your help.”
  • Thank you so much.  This is the best news.  This is going to be such a big help in so many ways.  I am so filled with gratitude right now. I can’t thank you enough for your part in making this a reality.
    Sincerely Michele


  • “I’d like to thank you for representing Vinnie in his efforts to get his license back. I’m still in shock that they gave him a hardship license,  very happy that he can now move forward with his life.”
  • “Thank you so much for your help Mr. Simoneau, can’t express how important this is, I will be sure to recommend your name. Thanks again for all your help.”


Legislation would Eliminate Drug Suspensions

At present, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is legally required to suspend the driver’s license of anyone convicted of certain drug offenses. This suspension requirement takes effect regardless of whether or not a motor vehicle was involved in the drug crime. For example, the simple possession of illegal drugs in a person’s home will trigger a mandatory license suspension, even if a vehicle was not involved. Governor Michael Dukakis implemented the automatic license suspension requirement for 94C offenses in 1989. It requires the RMV to impose license losses ranging from 1 to 5 years in length, depending on the crime. The Registry charges a $500.00 reinstatement fee for these suspensions. MassDOT suspends approximately 7,000 licenses per year for drug-related offenses.

There is currently legislation pending at the Statehouse which would do away with automatic license suspensions for drug convictions in Massachusetts. These bills, Senate No. 64 and House No. 1429, propose to eliminate the license suspension penalty for drug convictions. If enacted, Massachusetts would join 33 other states which no longer suspend for drug crimes.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey supports the proposed legislation, as it was designed to “increase safety and opportunity.” The bill also eliminates the mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of certain drug crimes. Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which is the highest court in Massachusetts, has spoken in favor of the bills.

Those currently serving drug related license losses are able to apply for hardship licenses from the Board of Appeal or the Driver Control Unit of the Mass. RMV. These agencies have the authority to grant a 12 hour work license or early reinstatement of your full license.

Likewise, if the law does not pass, those faced with license suspensions for drug convictions will still have the opportunity to apply for hardship licenses which are issued either directly from the RMV or pursuant to an order issued after a hearing at the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.