NH Financial Responsibility Requirements

If you have an out of state drunk driving conviction, you may be required to get an SR-22 Insurance Certificate. This document shows that you have liability insurance. The New Hampshire Department of Motor  Vehicles calls this proof of “Financial Responsibility.” New Hampshire requires this because there is no compulsory liability insurance requirement in New Hampshire as there is in Massachusetts.

Getting an SR-22 certificate will require attending a hearing at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Driver Control Unit. A hearing s required because Massachusetts insurance companies will not issue you an insurance policy if you have a suspended license. You will need to get a temporary reinstatement in Massachusetts, so that you can get liability insurance.

Once you have proof of insurance or “financial responsibility” in the form of an SR-22 Certificate, you must present this to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state where your DUI conviction occurred. Once acceptable proof of financial responsibility is provided to the other state, the DMV should remove the block on your license record in the National Driver Registry, so that you can fully reinstate your Massachusetts Driver’s License.

However, you should realize that if the Massachusetts Registry is notified of an out of state DUI conviction, it will be applied to your record and it may trigger an additional suspension because of the law which requires the Registry to treat out of state motor vehicle violations as if they had occurred here in Massachusetts, when the violation is committed by Massachusetts resident or the holder of a Massachusetts Driver’s License.

If you were not a Mass. resident or license holder,  the Registry does not have the legal ability to suspend or revoke your license or right to operate because of the out of state conviction. However, the Registry is required to suspend your Mass. License or right to drive if your are blocked in the NDR because of the out of state offense.

Getting a temporary 30 day license so that you can get an SR-22 insurance certificate may be difficult and confusing, depending on your driving record and the facts of your case. A hardship license attorney may be able to assist you with this process. The Registry will not issue temporary licenses without official documents from the state where the suspension originated. You will need to provide either a “catch-22” letter or a “SR-22” letter issued by the out of state motor vehicle department (DMV). This letter cannot me more than thirty (30) days old and it must be an original letter on official letterhead.  You may also need to submit a certified copy of your driving record or court records from the state where the OUI offense or other motor vehicle violation occurred.

Once the Registry grants you a temporary reinstatement, you only have thirty (30) days to get the matter resolved. If the situation remains  unresolved beyond 30 days, the Mass. Registry will automatically re-suspend your license and you will have to repeat the entire SR-22 process all over again. Contact a Lawyer for more information.

Driving Class Q&A

Situation:

My son is 18 years old. He signed up for Marine Corp boot camp at Parris Island, SC and left on Labor Day. A few weeks prior he received a speeding ticket for going 75 MPH on Mass. 195. I wanted him to contest the $200 speeding ticket to ask for some leniency considering his decision to enter the Marines coupled with the fact that he was “only” going 75 on a US interstate highway. Two police officer friends of mine said this was somewhat of a petty citation.  My son’s Marine recruiter said we had to pay it and supply a receipt prior to his ship date which I did. After he left I received the dreaded letter in the mail stating his license was revoked for 90 days, $500 reinstatement which in and of itself would be understandable. However, he only has 10 days of leave which started Monday. The RMV does not have the SCARR classes available within that time frame and as I am sure you know he needs to take a full exam again!! Is there anything we can do? Should he go to Camp Pendleton, California and try to work it out during his school of infantry ( which is where he goes next ). I don’t even know if the Marines will give him the time to take those classes while in the school of infantry.

I fully respect the intent of these laws but feel this certainly would be an instance for some leniency considering my son has recently graduated a US Marine and only has 10 days leave since his graduation last Wednesday.

Please let me know if there is any recourse here.

The Answer:

Unfortunately, the RMV will not waive the class requirements. He will not be able to reinstate his license until he completes the classes and all of the other reinstatement requirements.

 

Don’t Drive Suspended, Get a Hardship License

In Massachusetts if you get caught operating after suspension, you will likely be arrested and your vehicle may be towed. You will have to appear in court and the criminal offense of driving while suspended will be added to your Massachusetts driving and criminal records. If you are convicted of operating after suspension or revocation in Massachusetts, you will have an loss of license added to your record, in addition to any other suspensions or revocations. Also, if your license was suspended for OUI and you’re found operating, you will face a minimum mandatory 60 days in jail. If you are on probation, being arrested for operating after suspension may result in a probation violation, which can have serious consequences.

In many cases, all of these consequences could have been avoided by receiving a hardship license issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles or Board of Appeal. In my law practice, I have helped a large number of deserving clients obtain hardship licenses or early reinstatements of their full drivers licenses.

If the Registry has taken your driver’s license in Massachusetts, I urge you to contact me for a free review and analysis of your license suspension or revocation. After speaking with me, you will know exactly where you stand and what I can do to help you get your license back, so that you can drive legally without the fear of being arrested for operating after suspension.

If you have the misfortune of facing license suspension charges, you should contact a lawyer and take steps to ensure that you will not be convicted and face a new suspension. Also, depending on your prior record, a conviction for driving on a suspended license may trigger a 4 year habitual traffic offender revocation.

Don’t suffer with a suspension if you can legally drive with either a limited 12 hour Cinderella license or an early reinstatement of your regular driver’s license.

Appealing Habitual Traffic Offender Revocations

If the Registry of Motor Vehicles has labeled you as a habitual traffic offender, you will have a 4 year license revocation in addition to any other suspensions or revocations. Fortunately, I may be able to obtain a full reinstatement of your driver’s license or get you a 12 hour hardship license by appealing your HTO revocation.

There are some recognized exceptions to the habitual traffic offender law, which you might be able to use to get your license back. For example, if you have a clean driving record, any convictions relied upon for the habitual traffic offender revocation which occurred simultaneously or within a 6 hour period must be treated as only 1 conviction. This means that if you were cited for five traffic violations at the same time, the 5 violations can only be counted as one single infraction, when determining whether your license should be revoked for 4 years.

Not all motor vehicle violations count towards habitual traffic offender revocations. Even some of the violations which count towards 7 surchargeable event suspensions cannot be legally relied upon to trigger a 4 year loss of license under the Massachusetts HTO law.

Also, although the Mass. RMV is legally entitled to treat out-of-state convictions as if they were in state convictions, it is only legal to do this if the out of state convictions is substantially similar to a corresponding Massachusetts automobile law violation which would warrant a habitual traffic offender revocation. Not all out of state violations will necessarily count towards your designation as a habitual traffic offender here in Massachusetts.

Pursuant to G.L. c. 90, § 22F, those declared habitual traffic offenders by the Registry who have served one year of the four year license loss can be considered for a part-time license if they can demonstrate a sufficient hardship. The issuance of a hardship license is not guaranteed, even if the offender has served enough time and he or she meets the hardship requirements. Registry hearing officers have considerable discretion when it comes to early reinstatements and legal representation is strongly recommended, especially when appearing before the Board of Appeal or if you have a lengthy driving record.

There can be no recent evidence of driving to qualify for a hardship license and you must have completed the National Safety Council 8 hour Attitudinal Dynamics of Driving Course within 3 years of your hardship license hearing. There are no exceptions to this safe driving course completion requirement.

Address Outstanding Obligations Before Your Hearing

Before you appear before the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance, it is critical that you insure that all outstanding financial obligations have been satisfied in full, as having unpaid obligations may be construed as evidence of a lack of responsibility, which might reflect negatively on you and your case. Also, even if you win your appeal, the Registry will allow you to reinstate your license unless and until all outstanding financial obligations are paid.

You must pay any outstanding parking tickets, civil motor vehicle citations, child support, fast lane or EZ pass violations prior to your hearing. Also, if you are required to take the National Safety Council 8 hour attitudinal dynamics of driving (ADD) course for 7 surchargeable events or habitual traffic offender revocation, you will not get your license reinstated without having completed the required classes. JOL violators must also take the State Courts Against Road Rage (SCARR) program. Taking the classes and paying any outstanding tickets, fines, and fees may increase your chance your chances of winning. The Registry advocate will have a list of any outstanding issues and inform the Board members of them during your hearing.

One of the benefits of hiring a lawyer to represent you is that your attorney can help you identify and address any pending outstanding obligations before your hearing. The goal is to clean up your record, so that the only outstanding item is the suspension for which you are seeking a hardship license.

Denied by the Registry? Get a Hardship License from the Board of Appeal

With the general lack of public transportation in Massachusetts, the loss of a driver’s license can cause a tremendous strain on your work, family, and financial life. Unless you live and work in a city where there is public transportation such an Boston, Worcester, or Springfield, a valid license is probably a necessity. In this region, driving is critical and not being able to drive can be absolutely devastating.

Fortunately for those who have had their licenses suspended or revoked, when it comes to getting a hardship license, the Mass. RMV is not the only option. There is an agency known as the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance of the Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation (OCABR), which has the legal authority to order the Registry of Motor Vehicles to grant a hardship license, even in cases where the Registry of Motor Vehicles has previously denied the hardship license request or in cases where the Registry does not have the authority to grant a hardship license itself.

The Massachusetts Board of Appeal has broad powers and authority to overrule any decision of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, whether it pertains to hardship licensing, suspensions, revocations, or full license reinstatements. The Board of Appeal only has authority over Registry actions and it cannot overrule court decisions or court-ordered license actions.

Board of Appeal hearings are adversarial  legal proceedings where witnesses are sworn in and evidence is received and reviewed. These hearings are conducted in courtrooms or the hearing room at the Board’s office in Boston. There will be a representative from the RMV who will present the Registry’s case and likely ask that the Board reinstate your license or grant you a hardship license. Board decisions are reviewable in Superior Court. However, in most cases, it is very difficult to overturn a Board decision. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you hire a lawyer to represent you before the Board.

Hardship License After Not Guilty Verdict

Situation:

I was arrested for OUI / refusing Breathalyzer test and my license suspended automatically for 180 days. My court appointed attorney says I have a chance to beat the OUI case but he does not think any magistrate would reinstate my driver’s license even if I am found not guilty of the OUI charge. Please help

Answer:

During the term of a breathalyzer refusal suspension, the only way to get a hardship license from the Massachusetts Registry is to have your case resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D and enroll in an approved alcohol program.  Therefore, if you are found not guilty and the judge refuses to reinstate your license, the Registry will not grant you a hardship license. You may be able to appeal to the Mass. Division of Insurance Board of Appeal for a hardship license. However, the Board may deny you a hardship license for the same reason that the DUI trial judge refused to grant you a full reinstatement of your license after you were found not guilty.

Also, the Board of Appeal has expressed a reluctance regarding hearing chemical test refusal appeals, because there is already a statutory mechanism for them to be reviewed: within 15 days of the suspension by the Registry of Motor Vehicles and, in the event of a not guilty verdict or dismissal, by the judge who presided over the operating under the influence case.

In summary, you have a chance to be considered for a 12 hour hardship license by the Board of Appeal, but there is risk that the Board will refuse to hear your appeal. There is also a risk that the Board will hear your case and refuse to grant you a hardship license, perhaps for the same reason that your lawyer believes that the District Court Judge will deny you. The Board is likely to afford the Judge’s decision some deference, because he is the one who presided over your trial and heard the evidence in a judicial forum.

No Hardship License While OUI Case is Pending

Question:

I have a pending case in New Bedford Third District Court for OUI Liquor, or over 0.08%. I refused the breathalyzer and completed half of a field sobriety test before I had terminated it. I was subsequently arrested and released on a personal the following day.

What can I do to get a hardship license? I am enrolled at Bristol Comm. College and have class four times a week, have a court case to attend to, and need to look for work. The date of the incident was 10/17/2013 and I am aware that I am past the 15-day deadline.

An RMV representative told me over the telephone that I cannot do anything until the case is resolved. This will take months, as I plan to fight it and hopefully win.

Answer:

Assuming that this is a first offense, and you are 21 years of age or older, you will have a 180 day chemical test refusal suspension for refusing the breathalyzer. This will be followed with an OUI suspension if you are convicted or plead out. The Registry of Motor Vehicles Representative was right. You cannot be considered for any type of a hardship license until your operating under the influence (OUI) case is resolved in court pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D and you have proof of enrollment in the 24D 1st offender alcohol program. While your case is pending, your license will remain suspended. If it takes longer than 180 days for your case to be heard, you can get your license reinstated after the 180 day chemical test refusal expires. If you’re convicted of OUI or are assigned to an alcohol program, you will have a new OUI suspension.

In Massachusetts, you cannot get a hardship license while a chemical test refusal suspension is running unless your case is resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D.

If you are found not guilty or the OUI charge is dismissed, you can have a hearing in the New Bedford District Court regarding the full reinstatement of your driver’s license.

New Hampshire may soon be Granting Hardship Licenses

The State of New Hampshire does not issue hardship, restricted, Cinderella, or work licenses for any reason. However, that may be changing in the near future. In a bill backed by Mothers Against Drug Driving (MADD), New Hampshire lawmakers are considering granting ignition interlock restricted hardship licenses to first offenders in New Hampshire.

If passed, House Bill 496 will allow those convicted of a first offense DUI in New Hampshire to be considered for a hardship license which would allow the defendant to drive for work, medical, or substance abuse rehabilitation purposes.  Any license issued to the first offenders would be ignition interlock restricted.

The issuance of hardship licenses under this proposed law would be discretionary and it would be up to the court system to decide who would receive these hardship licenses.

Despite opposition from New Hampshire’s police chiefs, the bill has strong support and it appears likely to pass. The Bill is expected to be brought before the full house in early January, 2014.