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.