Fortunately, when it comes to hardship licenses in Massachusetts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles is not the only game in town. There is a 3 member appellate Board which has the legal authority to overrule any decision of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. This Board is known as the Division of Insurance, Board of Appeal. It is comprised of appointees from the Office of the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Insurance, and MassDOT. These Board Members hear and decide Cinderella License cases and other appeals of adverse RMV actions.
These Board of Appeal hearings are more formal than Registry Hearings. Certain Rules of Evidence Apply and legal procedures are followed. These hearings must be scheduled in advance and, unlike Registry hearings, they are not granted on a walk-in basis.
Anyone appearing before the Board of Appeal has the right to be represented by legal counsel and it is strongly recommended that you have a lawyer who specializes in this area of law handle your case. My office receives a large number of calls from dissatisfied Appellants who made the mistake of appearing before the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal without an attorney, or with the wrong lawyer, only to be denied and have their license suspensions affirmed. Although there is a right to appeal an adverse Board of Appeal decision to Superior Court, pursuant to G.L. c. 30A Sec. 14, in most cases it is next to impossible to reverse a hardship license denial in Superior Court. Therefore, the time to win is when the case is before the Board.
The Registry only grants hardship licenses for certain suspensions such as those associated with Operating Under the Influence and being a Habitual Traffic Offender. The Appeals Board can grant a hardship license on almost any suspension, including those for 7 surchargeable events, window tint violations, reckless driving, operating to endanger, negligent operation and ignition interlock violations. The Board also hears a large number of indefinite immediate threat revocation appeals.
Unless there is a challenge to the accuracy of the Appellant’s driving record, one type of suspension that the Board will not hear is Chemical Test Refusal (CTR) suspensions. The Board has determined that these must be first appealed to the Registry, within 15 days, and then to District Court. The Board will generally not hear CTR suspension appeals or grant hardship licenses to repeat OUI offenders while the 3 or 5 year Breathalyzer refusal suspension is still running. The Board of Appeal will not grant hardship licenses to those repeat DUI offenders who have valid lifetime chemical test refusal suspensions.
If you need to appear before the Board of Appeal, I invite you to contact my office to discuss how we might be able to help you get your driver’s license reinstated, either on a limited or full-time basis.