The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles recently replaced its Automated License and Registration System, known as ALARS, with a new computer system called Atlas. As with any computer system conversion of this magnitude, there were some issues.
Some customers have received letters from MassDOT stating that their driver’s licenses will be suspended for various reasons such as payment defaults, 7 surchargeable events, and habitual traffic offender. In some cases, these letters were issued in error, likely due to the computer system conversion.
If you received a letter informing you that your driver’s license is scheduled for suspension and it is clearly an error, there probably no need to hire a lawyer and you should be able to resolve the matter by seeing a Registry Hearing Officer. After reviewing your situation, if the suspension or revocation is not valid, the RMV Hearing Officer will stop the suspension and you will not lose your license.
If there are any problems or issues at the Registry, or you are not satisfied with the outcome of the hearing, you have the right to retain an attorney and appeal the suspension by going before the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.
Most times it makes sense to be represented by counsel at Registry Hearings. However, if you were sent a notice of intent to suspend based on a computer error, you should be able to resolve the matter yourself and it probably does not make sense to hire an attorney. You can resolve the suspension by seeing a Hearing Officer at MassDOT.
In many cases, by reviewing the convictions dates, it will be readily apparent that the suspension is invalid. For example, 7 surchargeable events have a 3-year lookback period. If the suspension is based on convictions which occurred outside of that 3-year period, it is invalid. Likewise, 3 surchargeable event suspensions must be based on convictions or findings which occurred within a 2-year period. Entries which fall outside of the 2-year period cannot be counted. The relevant lookback period for 4-year Habitual Traffic Offender Revocations is 5 years.
Hearing officers are only located at certain branches such as the Boston, Springfield, and Worcester Registry locations. You must see a Hearing Officer to resolve suspensions. Clerks and other Registry employees lack the computer access to resolve license suspensions.