Hardship License Work Letters

In order to get a work license from the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal, you must supply adequate documentation to show that you need a driver’s license in order to work. The Board of Appeal will not grant you a hardship license for work purposes if you are unemployed and you cannot demonstrate that you have a viable job offer or that you are actively engaged in a job search and the only thing that his holding you back from gainful employment is the lack of a driver’s license

Massachusetts courts have ruled that the granting of a hardship license is considered “extraordinary relief” and that they should only be granted in cases where the Appellant has demonstrated that he or she has a legitimate and substantial hardship.

The Board of Appeal has denied Appellants who are unable to demonstrate a substantial enough of a work-related hardship. There must be sufficient evidence to show that a person seeking relief has a need for the license beyond the mere inconvenience associated with a suspension or revocation. For example, if someone is able to get to and from work, but not able to work overtime due to the lack of a license, that generally will not constitute a substantial enough of a hardship to qualify.

The best work letters contain information regarding the employee’s value to the organization, his or her work hours, and a statement regarding the importance of punctuality and good attendance. If the employee needs to drive as part of his or her work duties, that requirement should be thoroughly explained in the work letter.

Work letters for repeat OUI offenders, who need to drive as part of their job duties and drive company vehicles, should contain some acknowledgement indicating that the person’s employer understands that he or she will be ignition interlock required while on any hardship license and for 2 years after getting a full reinstatement.

My office can provide you with sample letters which the Board of Appeal has accepted in prior cases. My office can also provide you with sample documentation for medical or educational related hardship appeals.

Breathalyzer Controversy

drager_breathalyzer_massachusettsThere has been considerable controversy, misinformation, and media attention regarding a problem with the administration of chemical breath tests in Massachusetts DUI cases.

Chemical breath tests which police administer in Operating Under the Influence cases in Massachusetts are governed by 501 CMR 2.11. This regulation requires the use of a “simulator” which has been tested to contain a pre-determined alcohol concentration. In order to ensure the validity of breath tests, this simulator is tested in between an arrestee’s two breath samples to ensure that the breathalyzer is functioning properly and reporting an accurately reporting the test subject’s blood alcohol content. The DUI suspect’s breath sample and the simulator test is separated by two “air blanks” to ensure that there is no air from the subject’s breath sample in the device when the simulator is being tested.

The Drager Alcotest 9510 breath testing devices, which were placed into service in police departments throughout Massachusetts several years ago, should have been programmed to invalidate a breath test if the reported blood alcohol content (BAC) of the simulator falls outside of the range of 0.074 – 0.086%. It has become apparent that some devices may not have been programmed in accordance with this legal standard.

Therefore, a relatively small number of breathalyzer tests in Massachusetts may have been invalid, because the breathalyzer failed to reject and invalidate a test If the simulator calibration check result was not between 0.074 – 0.086%. If this occurred, the breath test is invalid, as a matter of law, and should have been admitted in a drunk driving prosecution.

Assumedly, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has records of breath tests administered and the Commonwealth should contact defense counsel in cases where convictions were obtained based on invalid breath tests. It would seem that such information is considered exculpatory under Brady and other cases which place an affirmative duty on the prosecution to produce exculpatory evidence to defense counsel in criminal cases.

If you believe that the breathalyzer results may have been invalid in your Massachusetts DUI case, you should contact your defense lawyer and have him or her review the breath test ticket that was generated. If the calibration check result falls outside of the acceptable range, you may be able to seek judicial review of your conviction by filing a Motion for a New Trial, pursuant to Rule 30 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure. These motions can be granted at any time if it appears that justice may not have been done in the original trial.

Of the thousands of breath tests administered in Massachusetts, only a few hundred cases are impacted by this issue. The vast majority of tests are valid and admissible.


Get a Hardship License & Drive Legally

driver_license_massachusettsIf the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has denied you a hardship license, you have the ability to appeal the denial by going before the Board of Appeal of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. The Board of Appeal has the lawful authority to order the Registry to grant you a hardship license, or in some cases, a full license reinstatement, even after the Registry of Motor Vehicles has initially declined your request.

If you need to go before the Board of Appeal, this means that there is something about your driving record, criminal history, or the facts of your case which disqualify you from being given hardship driving privileges at the RMV level. The same facts which have prevented you from being given hardship relief at the RMV may make it difficult for you to convince the Appeals Board to grant you a hardship license. Therefore, it makes sense to hire a lawyer who regularly and routinely appears before the Board. To ensure that you’re getting the best legal representation possible, you should ask your lawyer how many Board of Appeal cases he or she has handled and what is his or her win / loss record before the Board. There are some lawyers who do not regularly practice before the Board and they should be avoided.

If you are serious about obtaining a Massachusetts Hardship License, I invite you to contact me for a free consultation and review of your case. After speaking with you, I will candidly advise you regarding your chances of success and I will make recommendations regarding what you need to do to strengthen your case.

There is a lot of misinformation floating around the internet and even among some attorneys regarding hardship licensing eligibility and requirements. After speaking with me, you will know exactly where you stand and whether you qualify for hardship licensing consideration. There may be no need to suffer with a suspended or revoked license when you can lawfully drive. Contact Attorney Simoneau for more information on how you may be able to drive legally.


Tips for going before the Board of Appeal

In Massachusetts, the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance has the power to provide hardship licenses, even in cases where the applicant has been denied such a license by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. However, getting a hardship license from the Board of Appeal is not easy. Being successful at the RMV Appeals Board requires good timing, case preparation, and documentation. Most people lose at the Board of Appeal because they appear at unprepared, at the wrong time, or without the required documents.

First, if winning your case is important to you, spend the money and hire a lawyer who routinely practices before the Board. There’s no substitute for good legal representation. Not all lawyers specialize in Registry matters and when they come before the Board, they sometimes have difficulty. On the other hand, lawyers who regularly appear before the Board generally have better results. Ask your lawyer about his win / loss record.

Timing is critical. You should not appear before the Board of Appeal if you are serving a repeat offender who is chemical test refusal (CTR) suspension. The Board has taken the legal position that it has no authority to hear and decide your hardship case until the breathalyzer refusal suspension expires. There are absolutely no exceptions to this rule.

You should also not go before the Board if you have not served enough of your suspension or revocation. A lawyer who specializes in Board of Appeal cases can advise you as to when to appeal, based on his experience in handling prior cases; I’ve consulted with thousands of clients and handled many hundreds of such appeals.

Next, if you have pending charges or open cases for motor vehicle violations, you should not go before the Board. The appeal application clearly this. The rationale for this restriction is that going before the Board and getting a hardship license is a waste of time, yours and the Board’s, if you are just going to lose your license if you are convicted of the pending violations.

Having the right documentation is essential. The Board loves paperwork and the most important documents include proof of your need to drive for work, school, or medical reasons, a discharge summary showing your risk of recidivism or relapse, and a substance abuse evaluation which also provides a recidivism classification. Proof of program completion is also an important document. Other important items include proof of AA attendance, if available, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement addressed to the Board. These are only a few examples of what can help you get a driver’s license.

Your lawyer cannot win the case without your help, no matter how good he or she is.

Operating After Suspension & Hardship Licensing

I recently received this inquiry from an individual who is attempting to obtain a hardship license.

Good afternoon, I have two oui of liquor. I went to trial last October for my second offense because I blew a .08 and lost. I’m in my first year of the two year suspension. I got arrested again in August for driving on a suspended license. I served 30 days in jail although the court only sentenced me to 10 days. I violated probation my first time. Did the two week program and have one more of after care classes. I drove a car 10 houses and my cousin told the cop I drove. I actually didn’t get arrested in the car I was already at a house. The cops came and arrested me. It’s along story. I was wondering if I could still get a hardship I live in the suburbs and it’s tough to get around. I just made very stupid decisons. I heard they take your license for an additional year and there is no way I could get a hardship I would have to wait the full two years. Is this true? If you could just give me a little feed back and if I am eligible after I complete my last class you could represent me. Thank you for your time.

Unfortunately, getting a hardship license with a recent Operating After Suspension charge on your record is extremely difficult. Expecting that the Board of Appeal would not authorize the issuance of a hardship license, I declined to represent the person. Lately, the Board has expressed a very negative opinion regarding those who make the very poor decision to drive while their license is suspended or revoked for DUI. Recent OAS charges will make getting hardship relief very difficult. Instead of driving while your license is under suspension you should apply for a hardship license, so that you can drive legally. In this case, the driver made no attempt to get a hardship license and now that he has been convicted of driving while suspended, it is likely too late.

Not All Drug or Alcohol Programs are Equal

alcohol_programIn Massachusetts DUI cases, one of the key parts of your hardship license hearing before the Board of Appeal or Registry is a review of the drug or alcohol treatment program which you have most recently completed. Not all programs are equal and the Board of Appeal has become very adept at discerning what is a legitimate and substantive alcohol program and what is not.

Some hardship license candidates attempt to satisfy the program requirement with on-line or “distance learning”  programs.  The Board of Appeal hears thousands of cases each year and the Board members are aware of the differences between these programs which you basically take over the internet and then print your certificate versus the more substantive programs which require your physical attendance and participation.

Going before the Board of Appeal with a “correspondence school” or “on-line alcohol program” when completion of an actual “in-person” program is required can result in a hardship license denial, which would force you to serve the balance of your revocation or license suspension.

Not all substance abuse programs are equal and not having a substantive alcohol or drug program may hurt your chances of success, especially if you are a repeat offender. You should consult with a lawyer prior to appearing before the Board of Appeal to ensure that you have what it takes to convince the Board to grant you a hardship license or reinstatement of your driving privileges.

The Probation Department of your District Court can be a valuable resource when it comes to finding an alcohol or drug treatment program.  You can also find programs on-line and through Alcoholics Anonymous Groups. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also maintains a list of approved programs and treatment providers.

Finally, if you are legally domiciled out of state, or if you are a full-time student who resides in another state, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will accept proof of program completion from your home state, even if the DUI offenses occurred here in Massachusetts. However, if you are not a Massachusetts resident, you cannot get a Massachusetts Driver’s License and you must go before the Appeals Board instead of the Registry to be considered for hardship relief. If you have to appear before the Board, you should retain a lawyer.

Out of State DUI Q&A

I need help with reinstating my Mass driver’s license. I have to see a RMV hearing officer, Wilmington is the closest Registry. I am 39 years old and I have never been in trouble before.

I got arrested 2 times in 2 weeks for DUI (I don’t drink by the way). The first one happened in CT — which ended in “Alternate finding” i.e. take a long expensive drug/alcohol class and probation for one year. My lawyer kept “continuing” the case so the second DUI arrest case in Rhode Island finished way before the Connecticut judge assigned probation.  The RI DUI was dropped and has been expunged from my record. I refused the breathalyzer after I was under arrest. I would have easily passed the breathalyzer, but since I felt wrongly arrested in both incidents and since this whole experience was foreign to me, I felt I should contact a lawyer before cooperating anymore. I was found responsible for both refusals. My suspensions are up and MA has sent me letters asking me to see the hearing officer with my papers from RI and CT- the states’ reinstatements and my driving records. I have my court documents as well. I couldn’t tell by the MA letter if they needed those as well.

Here’s the question: Do I go to hearing officer with both sets (CT and RI) of documents or deal with them one at a time? The Rhode Island case finished first so I’ll be receiving that paperwork this week. I’ll be receiving the Connecticut documents the week of November 13th. Thank you in advance for any light you could shed!

Answer: If you hold a Massachusetts Drivers License or live in Massachusetts, and you are convicted of an out of state DUI offense, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license unless and until your right to operate is restored in the state where the offense occurred. Also, the Registry will impose an additional suspension which is triggered by being a Mass. resident or license holder and being convicted of an out of state DUI. You need to bring “proof of findings” to the Registry so that the CT offense can be added to your Massachusetts record. Once this happens, the RMV will impose an automatic 1 year DUI 1st offense license suspension. In some cases, this suspension can be reduced.

Resolve your Criminal Case Before going to the Board of Appeal

rightsIf MassDOT has taken action against your Massachusetts Driver’s License or right to operate in Massachusetts, G.L. c. 90 § 28 gives you the right to seek review of the Registry’s decision by taking your case before a 3 member Board of Appeal. This Board, which is an agency of the Division of Insurance, has the legal authority to reverse any decision of the Mass RMV. This means that the Board has the power to order the Registry to give you your driver’s license back in full or to grant you a hardship license, which allows you to legally drive for 12 hours each day if your license has been suspended or revoked.

You cannot get a license from the Board of Appeal without personally attending a Board of Appeal hearing. The purpose of this hearing is to give the Board information so that its members can decide whether to grant you a hardship license or to overturn your suspension.

In some cases, you may have pending criminal charges for operating after suspension, reckless driving, negligent operation, or operating under the influence. If you have pending charges, you should not apply for a hearing with the Appeals Board. Instead, you should wait until your criminal case is resolved. In most cases, the Board will refuse to hear your suspension appeal case until the criminal matter is concluded. This is because if you are convicted, you will have a new license suspension and any order made by the Board will be null and void.

There is another important reason for waiting to appeal your suspension, as I have explained below.

The 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution gives you the right to remain silent and the ability to refuse to testify against yourself. Article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights give you the same protection. At your appeal hearing, you will be questioned regarding the contents of your criminal and driving records, which will reflect any pending cases as well as your history of violations, whether or not they resulted in a conviction. If you invoke your 5th Amendment or Article 12 Rights against self incrimination, it is unlikely the appeal will be resolved in your favor. If you testify , you will likely be providing evidence which could hurt your chances of success in the criminal case.

All testimony at the Board of Appeal is sworn, which means that it is given under the penalties and pains of perjury. Furthermore, all testimony is electronically recorded and preserved.  Nothing would prevent the Board from sharing this information with prosecutors or the District Attorney’s Office from issuing a subpoena for your testimony. This sworn testimony could be used against you in the criminal case. Therefore, if you have pending criminal charges, the best thing to do is to wait until those charges are fully resolved through the court system before seeking a hardship license or early reinstatement of your driver’s license. If you have any questions regarding this, you should speak with a lawyer.

The Boston RMV is Moving!

MASSDOTOn Monday, September 15, 2014, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will relocate its Boston Branch from 630 Washington Street in Chinatown to the second and third floors of the state-owned building at 136 Blackstone Street in Boston.  This building was constructed around two ventilation shafts which vent the underground “big dig” tunnels below the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

The Boston Branch of the Registry houses the Driver Control Unit where suspension and chemical test refusal hearings are held. Hardship license, immediate threat, and complaint regulatory hearings will also be held at this location. Hearings for ignition interlock violations are held at the Quincy office which is located at 25 Newport Avenue Extension in Quincy. License Fraud hearings are held at the Special Investigation Unit which is located at 25 Stuart Street in Boston.

Parking at the new location is expected to be limited and the best way to get there is to take the MBTA to Haymarket Station.

The first floor of the building will house the Boston Public Market, which is a year-round indoor public market which will sell locally grown produce and other foods from the New England area.

Telephone numbers remain the same. You can continue to reach the suspension unit at 857-368-8200.

RMV Requires Ignition Interlock Device

ignition interlock deviceIf the Registry of Motor Vehicles suspended your driver’s license or right to operate for Operating Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol, and you have a prior DUI conviction, regardless or when or where it occurred, you will be required to use an ignition interlock device while you are on a hardship license and for a minimum of 2 years after getting the hardship hours removed from your license. The Registry makes no exceptions when it comes to the ignition interlock device (IID) requirement, which is mandated for all repeat DUI offenders. Your license will be IID restricted even if the court treated you as a first offender or you were given a “Cahill” or “Second Chance, First Offender” disposition.

The initial lease fee for the IID is approximately $200.00 and you must pay a $100.00 monthly monitoring fee. These fees are mandatory and there are no waivers for those who are indigent.

All states now have some form of an ignition interlock program. In some states, such as New York, the IID is required even for first offenders. In Massachusetts, it is required for those with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th offenses. Those with 5DUI offenses will have their licenses revoked for life, with no ability to apply for a hardship or work license.

If you are a repeat DUI offender and have been cleared for either hardship relief or a full license reinstatement, you must have the IID installed by a certified vendor. Once the IID is installed, you need to bring proof of installation to a Registry Hearings Officer in order to reinstate your license. You will have to sign a package of forms which explain the Registry’s IID program and the rules which you must obey to avoid the loss of your license. You must sign this package in the presence of a Notary Public and it must be notarized. Any license driver who lives with you must also sign paperwork stating that he or she knows that your license is IID restricted.

In most cases, you will be required to take a written and road test to get your license reinstated. If you are required to re-test, you must have the IID installed prior to taking the road test. You will take the test in the IID equipped vehicle.

If you commit an ignition interlock violation by missing rolling re-tests, failing rolling re-tests, failing to have the device downloaded as required, or tampering with, disconnecting, or circumventing the IID, your license will be revoked for 10 years or life. Also, operating a vehicle without the IID during your restriction period will result in a 10 year license revocation, regardless of whether or not you were charged criminally or convicted.