Don’t Risk Being Arrested for Driving While Suspended

arrestedIf your license or driving privileges have been suspended or revoked, I urge you not to drive. If you are found driving on a suspended license, you could be arrested and prosecuted. If you are convicted of operating after suspension or revocation, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will impose an additional loss of license which will likely take effect only after your original suspension or revocation expires. This means that you will have to serve additional time without your license.

Depending on your criminal history and the suspension reason, operating after suspension may land you in jail. For example, if you lost your license due to drunk driving and you are convicted of operating after suspension for OUI, you will have a minimum mandatory sentence of 60 days in jail.

State and local police officers from various police departments across Massachusetts are being equipped with automatic license plate readers or ALPRs, to detect drivers whose licenses are suspended or revoked. ALPR systems automatically scan license plates and alert the police if a vehicle’s registered owner’s license has been suspended or revoked. This provides the police with justification to stop the vehicle and investigate the operator’s license status.

Being convicted of driving while suspended or revoked is considered a major violation under the Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offender program and it may result in an additional 4 year HTO revocation. Also, the Board of Appeal views operating after suspension as evidence of a conscious disregard for the law and it is one of the reasons why the Board of Appeal denies hardship license requests.

Instead of taking the chance of being arrested, sent to jail,  and losing your license for a longer period time, you should consider applying for a hardship license. In Massachusetts, hardship licenses are available to allow qualified individuals to drive for 12 hours each day, 7 days a week, during the term of a license revocation or suspension. A hardship license is a sensible alternative to driving while suspended and risking arrest.

Driving While Suspended After OUI: No Hardship License

Here’s what the prospective client had to say:

I recently received a DUI .28, during the initial 30 day suspension I made the stupid decision to drive and was pulled over and charged with operating after suspension. I hired a defense attorney for the DUI/suspension charges. He was able to get the DA to accept a suspended sentence for the DUI along with the negligent op, marked lanes, speeding violations. But I did have to plead out on the operating with suspended lic. I have now begun my 60 day suspension for this. While my attorney is good, I am looking to hire someone who specializes in Hardship licenses to prepare my case as it is imperative that I receive a hardship if eligible.

The answer:

Unfortunately, there is absolutely no way that this person is going to be granted a hardship license. Nothing rubs the Board of Appeal the wrong way more than a recent Operating After Suspension charge,  especially when it is connected with a recent breathalzyer failure and administrative per se suspension.

Here, this individual got arrested for DUI and blew a .28, more than 3 times the legal limit. He was charged with DUI and had his license suspended for 30 days for failing the breathalzyer. With  days of his DUI arrest, he drove on a suspended license, got stopped and arrested. He won’t be getting a hardship license, no matter how good of a lawyer he has. I wouldn’t take this case to the Board of Appeal because doing so wastes my time and the client’s money. I already know how the Board will rule. Also, with the thousands of appeals that the Board hears each year, they don’t need me bringing in a case such as this.

Ignition Interlock Device Q&A

I recently received this e-mail from a client who I helped obtain a hardship license on a 2nd offense OUI.

I have successfully dealt with the interlock for a year and a half – I have maintained my sobriety date of July 26, 2010 but have had two recent issues and I am soliciting data from the interlock company – Draeger.  Three months ago, and again last week, I was warned by the interlock unit I had two days before being locked out.  The message came out of nowhere with no warning.  In both cases when serviced at the dealer, the file indicated I had “refused” a retest request 2 separate rimes – which results in the warning of the immanent lock out.  It happened 3 months ago and again last week.  I have contested this with the garage and with Draeger and they are sending me the detailed data of each test and when the issue occurred.  I am sure it is a malfunction but Draeger sees nothing in the data to suggest it is.  I have not received any kind of notice from the State but I want to be proactive,.  Should I see you?  Should I arrange a time with the hearing officer?  My removal date is September 2014 and I have been clean other than 2 false positives back last summer when I used an epinephrine inhaler and with bug spray – otherwise totally clean.  Do I need to worry?  I greatly appreciate your help and am happy to pay for your consult.  God bless the folks that continue drinking – if this is the crap that happens with a sober person I can only imagine what happens to a person who consumes alcohol.  Thanks

Here’s the answer:

Two Missed Rolling Re-tests within one Service Period will initiate a lockout and you need Two Lockouts due to Missed Rolling Re-tests to constitute an Ignition Interlock Violation. Therefore, I don’t think that you will receive a hearing notice. In order to get the device removed, you must have no “infractions” within the 6 month period immediately prior to your removal date. Two Missed Rolling Re-tests within one Service Period constitutes an infraction, So long as you do not have any infractions between April of 2014 and your removal date in September, you should be all set.

Registry Clerk Involved in License Fraud Scheme

Lfalse_licenseeonel Sanchez, 52 years old, of Revere, Massachusetts was arrested for bribing a Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles employee to issue Mass. Driver’s Licenses under a false license scheme whereby applicants would present Puerto Rican identity documents that belong to others. This cases shows that if your license is suspended or revoked, it’s better to apply for a hardship license instead of trying to get a fraudulent license.

This case resulted from an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations and the Boston Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force. The task force conducts complex investigations involving identity theft and public corruption relating to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).

From at least December 2012 through January 2013, Sanchez is alleged to have conducted a scheme with a scheme to knowingly and willfully produce false identification documents with the assistance of a clerk at the Revere, MA RMV. The former Registry Clerk is the subject of a federal criminal prosecution for his role in providing Massachusetts driver’s licenses and identification cards to individuals who were not eligible to receive them.

The former Registry employee made a full confession, admitting his role in issuing Massachusetts driver’s licenses and identification cards to individuals who were not eligible to receive them. The former Registry clerk admitted to working with Sanchez and other individuals in the scheme. The scheme involved “brokers” bringing “clients” to the Registry to obtain for the clients licenses and identification cards in identities other than their own. The former Registry employee was paid by the brokers in cash for each identification card or license he produced.

Sanchez allegedly conspired with the Registry licensing clerk to produce no fewer than thirty-three Massachusetts driver’s licenses to individuals who presented fraudulently obtained, but valid, Puerto Rican identification documents. The driver’s license applicants used fraudulently obtained but legitimate Puerto Rican identity documents to his clients in order to present the identity documents to the CW to obtain a legitimate Massachusetts driver’s licenses or identification cards.

Sanchez is further alleged to have provided his clients with Comcast bills that looked fake to present to the RMV as proof of address. The investigation alleges that Sanchez would often bring another individual to take the permit tests for his clients.

These activities violate federal law as well as G.L. c. 90 § 24B, a felony which carries a potential sentence of 5 years in state prison and a mandatory 1 year license revocation.

If you have lost your right to operate a motor vehicle, rather than trying to get a fraudulent license, you should try to get a legitimately issued hardship license.

Also, if your license has been suspended or revoked due to “COMP FRAUD LIC/ID,” you are entitled to be considered for a hardship license or early reinstatement. Contact me to find out more information regarding this option.

Converting Criminal Offenses to Civil Infractions

In some cases involving operating after suspension in violation of G.L. c. 90 § 23 or operating an uninsured motor vehicle in violation of G.L. c. 90 § 34J, prosecutors and defense lawyers might agree to treat these criminal offenses as civil infractions pursuant to G. L. c. 277, § 70C. This law allows certain criminal misdemeanor motor vehicle offenses to be treated as non-criminal driving infractions. This disposition is not available in Massachusetts operating under the influence (OUI) cases .

Having the court treat a criminal charge as a civil infraction, may have some benefits such as not having a criminal conviction on your record. However, unbeknownst to many, including some criminal defense lawyers, when a case is resolved with a responsible finding, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will treat the disposition as a conviction and automatically impose the corresponding license suspension, even though the offense was decriminalized.

The unsuspecting defendant is usually quick to agree to converting a criminal charge to a civil violation to avoid having a criminal conviction. A few days later, he or she receives a suspension notice in the mail stating that the Registry will be suspending his or her driver’s license due to the civil infraction. Once this happens, it’s too late to change the outcome of the case and the driver is faced with an unexpected mandatory license suspension. Therefore, defendants faced with the option of having a criminal motor vehicle violation converted to a civil infraction should carefully weigh the benefits against the registry sanctions which a responsible finding will trigger.

Your Legal Rights in Mass. License Suspension Cases

Whenever the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles takes action against your license, you have the legal right to have a hearing before a Registry Hearings Officer. In immediate threat cases, due to public safety considerations, the Registry may revoke your license first and grant you a hearing afterwards. Likewise, if you are arrested for OUI, and you refuse to submit to a chemical breath or blood test, or you fail such a test your license will be immediately revoked at the time of the Breathalyzer refusal or failure. You can have a Registry hearing after the revocation takes effect, where you have the legal right to have an attorney represent you.

In most other cases, the Registry is legally required to grant you a hearing prior to the suspension or revocation of your license or right to operate in Massachusetts. You have the right to be represented by a lawyer at this hearing. You also have the right to be represented by a lawyer at any hardship license hearing, whether it is conducted by MassDOT or the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.

Being represented by a lawyer can often make the difference between getting a license or getting denied and having to serve the balance of your suspension or revocation. If the Board of Appeal has denied you a hardship license, it is usually too late to hire a lawyer. If you’ve been denied by the Board, the avenue of appeal is to Superior Court, where it is extremely difficult to reverse a hardship license denial, even with an attorney.

Get a Hardship License or Full Reinstatement

mass_licenseIf the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has suspended or revoked your driver’s license or right to operate, my office may be able to get you a 12 hour hardship license or full reinstatement of your driving privileges. I have been representing clients before the Driver Control Unit of the Mass. RMV and the Board of Appeal of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance for many years and I have been able to achieve excellent results for my clients.

I am proud to have distinguished myself as a statewide expert on Mass. RMV matters and I serve as a resource for other lawyers who are looking for information regarding Massachusetts drivers license suspensions, revocations, and reinstatements as well as hardship licensing appeals.

As a lawyer who specializes in Massachusetts RMV cases, I routinely handle cases involving 7 surchargeable event suspensions, indefinite immediate threat revocations, immediate threat medical suspensions, 4 year habitual traffic offender revocations, drug related license suspensions, DUI and chemical test refusal suspensions, and fraudulent license revocations, to name a few. It is important to realize that I may be able to get you a hardship license, or even a full reinstatement, even if the RMV has denied you.

My office does not handle indefinite license suspensions for non-payment of taxes, child support, traffic citations, or property damage claims. These suspensions can be cleared by paying the outstanding financial obligations and no hardship licenses are issued for these suspensions, either from the Board of Appeal or the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

I have been very successful in resolving a variety of National Driver Register (NDR) suspensions in Massachusetts and NDR suspensions in other states which have originated in Massachusetts.

I urge you to contact me for a free consultation and review of your case.