As if the experience of facing an OUI charge isn’t daunting enough, you are often left with the consequence of a suspended license. Being hit with a loss of license after an OUI can put you in a difficult situation. You may need to be able to get to work, transport your children to and from child care or extra curricular activities, or get to medical appointments. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may be able to request a hardship license from the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) or seek a hearing to appeal your suspension altogether.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the RMV has dramatically changed how these hearings are requested and conducted. If you are facing a license suspension, it is imperative that you understand this new process in order to avoid delays and to put yourself in the best possible position for reinstatement.

We have extensive experience with the RMV and are here to help you through this process. We understand that life without a driver’s license can create big obstacles, but you do not have to face them alone. There are ways to ease this burden, and the attorneys at The Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard, P.C. can compassionately advise you of your options and guide you through the RMV process.


A hardship license permits you to drive for a set 12 hour period every day. In order to qualify for a hardship license, you have to be able to prove that you have an actual hardship. This can generally be in relation to work, school, medical need, family responsibilities, or other obligations. Keep in mind that you must be able to provide the proper documentation to support the hardship to the RMV, usually through a detailed letter.

The RMV may not grant you a hardship license if they believe you are a potential threat to public safety. In regards to issuing a hardship license for an OUI suspension, the RMV will especially look for history of alcohol and/or drug abuse and repeat OUI offenses. If you have a history of substance abuse, the RMV may request that you undergo a substance abuse evaluation. If you are able to show that you have actively engaged in recovery and sought treatment, your chances of obtaining a hardship license are significantly higher.

If you refused to submit to a breath test in your case, you are unfortunately not eligible for a hardship license under the law. The RMV will not grant a hardship license to anyone who has a second or greater offense until the chemical test refusal suspension has expired. The only exception is for first offenders and certain second offenders who are eligible to be treated as a first offender pursuant to Commonwealth v. Cahill, 442 Mass. 127 (2004), and only upon their acceptance of responsibility for OUI. If you fall into this category, you will immediately become eligible for a hardship license upon enrollment into a Driver Alcohol Education Program (DAEP), even while the chemical test refusal suspension is still in effect.

If you need additional confirmation as to whether or not you are eligible for a hardship license, please take this eligibility quiz.

How Do I Apply for a Hardship License?

All hardship license applications are at the discretion of the RMV. In order to apply for a hardship license, you must have a hearing with a hearings officer. All requests for hearings must be made online using the myRMV Online Service Center website. While making the request, you will have the opportunity to upload any and all required documents directly through the online portal. This is a very important step, as no physical documents are currently being accepted, and these documents must be available for the hearings officer to review prior to your hearing. If you do not have proper documentation submitted prior to the hearing, you will likely have to request another hearing date or possibly even have your hardship request denied.

For any hardship license request, you must show a documented legitimate hardship. You must provide a letter from your employer, on letterhead, which cannot be more than 30 days old. The letter must state your need for a hardship license and the work hours. You are also responsible for providing proof regarding the availability of public transportation. This proof may be included within the employer’s letter. You may also provide local bus/transit routes, etc. The following is additional information based upon the particular suspension you face:

Length of SuspensionWork/Education HardshipGeneral Hardship
1 year (365 days)3 months into OUI suspension6 months into OUI suspension
2 years (730 days)1 year into OUI suspension18 months into OUI suspension
8 years (2920 days)2 years into OUI suspension4 years into OUI suspension
10 years (3650 days)5 years into OUI suspension8 years into OUI suspension
  • The applicant must provide documented proof of completion of the proper alcohol treatment program.
  • For a subsequent offense, an ignition interlock device will be required for the remainder of any suspension period plus two years after the reinstatement of the full license.
  • Drug Offense (94C) Hardship License Criteria
    • The applicant has provided documented proof of completion of the proper drug treatment program.
    • The applicant must present documentation of three clean urine screens. The clean urine screenings must be from the three months preceding the hardship license request.
  • Habitual Traffic Offender Hardship License Criteria
    • Eligible after at least 1 year of the suspension period has been served
    • The applicant has completed the National Safety Council Driver Retraining Course within three years of this request.
    • An interlock ignition device is required if:
      • An OUI revocation has completed while the HTO has been in effect AND there are two or more OUI(s) on the record; OR
      • An OUI revocation has completed and the applicant never reinstated for the OUI offense and there are two or more OUI(s) on the record

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard are here to help you navigate the RMV process and ease the burden of a suspended license.


If your Massachusetts driver’s license is suspended, you can seek a hearing with a RMV Hearing Officer to appeal your suspension or to reinstate your license. You have a right to be represented by an attorney at an RMV hearing, and our firm regularly advocates at the RMV for the restoration of our client’s driving privileges.

How Do I Request a Suspension Hearing?

In order to appeal a suspension or reinstate your license after a suspension period has ended, you must have a hearing with a hearings officer, an RMV employee who has special privileges to remove license suspensions. All requests for suspension hearings must be made online using the myRMV Online Service Center website. Before submitting the request, you will be able to upload all required documents using the online portal. If there is documentation you need to provide, it is imperative that you upload it at this time so that the hearings officer will be able to access the documents prior to and at the time of your hearing. If you do not have proper documentation submitted prior to the hearing, you will likely have to request another hearing date or possibly even have your appeal denied.

What Do I Need for a Suspension Hearing?

It is important that you submit all necessary documentation using the myRMV Online Service Center portal at the time you request your hearing. Documentation varies based on what type of license suspension you have.

The hearing is a very informal process. The hearing takes place over the phone with a hearing officer. The hearings officer may ask you some questions about the triggering event or your current wellbeing, and may give you some guidance as far as next steps in the reinstatement process, for example, if you are required to install an interlock ignition device. If the hearing officer determines that you are eligible to reinstate your license, they will instruct you on how to pay your reinstatement fee.

Hearings Sites and Schedules

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all suspension hearings are currently being held over the phone. All requests for suspension hearings must be made online using the myRMV Online Service Center website.

The Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard care about the future of their clients. The professionals at the firm understand your situation and will fight for the best outcome for you to get on with your life.


If you are successful at your suspension hearing, or if your suspension period has expired, you will need to have your license reinstated at the RMV. You will need to request a hearing in order for your suspension to be removed and for you to pay a reinstatement fee. Just like hardship hearings and suspension hearings, all reinstatement hearings are being held over the phone, and you must request a hearing online using the myRMV Online Service Center website. Reinstatement fees are set by the law, and vary depending on the level of the offense. G.L. c, 90, § 33. Though there may be additional charges depending on the circumstances of your suspension, the typical fees for a restoring a license after a DUI suspension are as follows:

  • First Offense DUI: $500
  • Second Offense DUI: $700
  • Third Offense DUI: $1200
  • Fourth Offense DUI: $1200

You can make a payment for these fees with Credit and debit cards, cash, check, and money orders accepted for all transactions. If you choose to pay by check, make checks payable to MassDOT.


The attorneys at the Bernard Defense Team understand the importance of your ability to drive. Whether you drive for work, or need to take care of your family, we can assist you in obtaining a hardship license. Our firm has extensive experience presenting cases before the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Board of Appeal, and we know how to put you in the best position to obtain your license.

Contact the Bernard Defense Team for a free case consultation!

We serve clients from Berkshire to Boston. There is no obligation for the conversation.