License Suspension Serving Clients From The Berkshires to Boston

License Suspension

Types of License Suspensions Resulting from an OUI Arrest

In Massachusetts, if you are charged with OUI, you will likely be facing an immediate loss of your right to operate a motor vehicle. If you refused to submit to a breath test or if your breath test result was over a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) immediately instituted an administrative suspension against your license. Massachusetts views operating under the influence as a very serious offense, one that carries criminal charges. If you are subsequently found guilty of an OUI, you will have to endure strict penalties, which include an additional criminal suspension of your right to operate a motor vehicle for a period of time that corresponds to the offense for which you were convicted.

Administrative Suspensions

If you are arrested and submit to a breath test result and provide a result of a 0.08% BAC or higher, your license will be immediately suspended for a period of 30 days. If you refuse to submit to a breath test, your license will be suspended at minimum for 180 days and at a maximum of up to life. There are also additional consequences for operators who are under the age of 21 and operators who hold a commercial driver's license.

Breath Test Result of 0.08% BAC or Higher

If you take a breath test and the result is a 0.08% BAC or higher, the RMV will impose a 30 day suspension known as an “administrative per se suspension,” i.e. a breathalyzer failure suspension. During these 30 days, the law prohibits you from obtaining a hardship, work, or Cinderella license. An administrative per se suspension ends after the 30 days have lapsed, or with the disposition of an OUI case, whichever date comes first.

After the 30 day suspension has lapsed, you must reinstate your right to operate at the RMV. You must request a hearing in order for the RMV to remove the suspension and permit you to pay a reinstatement fee before your right to operate becomes active. You can find a local RMV that holds hearings on the RMV website.

Pursuant to G.L. c.90, § 24 (l)(g), you have a right to appeal the administrative per se suspension and request a hearing in the court in which the underlying OUI charge is pending. You must request this hearing within 10 days of the suspension. At this hearing, you have a right to present evidence that your BAC was not actually over the legal limit.

Breath Test Result of 0.08% BAC or Higher While Under the Age of 21

If you are 21 years or older and register a BAC of 0.08% or greater, the RMV will suspend your right to operate a motor vehicle for 30 days in accordance with G.L. c. 90, § 24(1)(f)(2). Pursuant to G.L. c.90, § 24P, the RMV will also impose an additional 180 suspension for operators under the age of 21, and an additional 1 year suspension for operators under the age of 18.

If an underage operator has not been previously arrested for or charged with OUI, the RMV will waive the 180 day suspension for those operators over the age of 18 if the operator enrolls in a driver alcohol education program. For operators under the age of 18, upon enrollment, the RMV will reduce the suspension to from 1 year to 180 days.

Breath Test Result of 0.08% BAC or Higher and a Commercial Driver’s License

Massachusetts does not impose an additional suspension against your CDL for a breath test failure. However, if you hold a CDL and your breath test result is a 0.08% BAC or higher, your Class D license will be suspended for a period of 30 days. Because your CDL is dependent upon an active Class D license, your CDL will not be valid until your Class D license is reinstated.

Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test

If you refuse to take a breath test, your right to operate will be suspended based upon how many prior OUI offenses are on your criminal record. The following suspensions will be imposed if you refuse to submit to a breath test:

  • No Prior OUI Offenses: 180 days suspension
  • 1 Prior OUI Offense: 3 years suspension
  • 2 Prior OUI Offenses: 5 years suspension
  • 3 or More Prior OUI Offenses: Lifetime suspension

Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test While Under the Age of 21

The following suspensions will be imposed for drivers under the age of 21:

  • No Prior OUI Offenses: 3 years
  • 1 Prior OUI Offense: 3 years
  • 2 Prior OUI Offenses: 5 years
  • 3 or More Prior OUI Offenses: Lifetime suspension

Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test and a Commercial Driver’s License

The following suspensions will be imposed for drivers holding a Commercial Driver’s License:

  • No Prior Major Disqualifying Offenses: 1 year suspension of the CDL plus 180 days suspension of the Class D license
  • 1 Prior Major Disqualifying Offense: Lifetime suspension of the CDL

Chemical Test Refusal Hearings

If you refused to submit to a breath or blood test after being arrested on the charge of operating under the influence, you have a right to challenge the suspension of your license within fifteen days of your refusal.

Chemical test refusal hearings are only conducted at the Boston branch of the RMV, and you can only challenge your suspension based on the following three (3) issues pursuant to G.L. c. 90, § 24:

  1. Did the police officer have reasonable grounds to believe that you had been operating under the influence?
  2. Were you placed under arrest?
  3. Did you refuse the chemical test?

If any of these issues is disapproved, the RMV will rescind the suspension.

If you wish to request a hearing to address a Chemical Test Refusal, you should enlist the representation of a Massachusetts OUI lawyer.

Immediate Threat Suspensions

If the RMV determines that your operation of a motor vehicle poses an immediate threat to public safety, the RMV can revoke your right to operate a motor vehicle immediately for an indefinite period without a hearing pursuant to G.L. c. 90, § 22. This often happens in cases involving an accident or in instances where a citation for OUI is issued. Generally, the RMV will not remove this harsh license suspension until all pending criminal charges are resolved and you can show that you are no longer a threat to public safety. Unfortunately, there is no hardship license available under the law to operator's with this type of suspension.

Criminal Suspensions

Operating Under the Influence

Massachusetts license suspensions for a criminal offense of operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs are determined under G.L. c. 90, § 24. License suspensions vary based upon the level of offense as listed below:

  • First Offense
    • Suspension period: Guilty finding: up to 1 year; Continuation Without a Finding: 45 - 90 days
    • Hardship Consideration Requirements: Enrollment and completion of a Driver Alcohol Education program (DAEP)
    • Ignition interlock device: No
  • Second Offense
    • Suspension period: 2 years
    • Hardship Consideration Requirements: Completion of a 14 day residential treatment program; Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test
    • Ignition interlock device: Yes
  • Third Offense
    • Suspension period: 8 years
    • Hardship Consideration Requirements: Completion of a third offender program or a showing that the causes of the present and past violations have been dealt with or brought under control; Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test
    • Ignition interlock device: Yes
  • Fourth Offense
    • Suspension period: 10 years
    • Hardship Consideration Requirements: A showing that the causes of the present and past violations have been dealt with or brought under control; pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test
    • Ignition interlock device: Yes
  • Fifth or Greater Offense
    • Suspension period: Lifetime
    • Not eligible for reinstatement or any hardship consideration

Operating After License Suspension for OUI

Massachusetts license suspensions for a criminal offense of operating after a suspension for a previous operating under the influence offense are determined under G.L. c. 90, § 23.

  • First Offense: 1 year suspension
  • Second Offense: 1 year suspension
  • Third Offense: 1 year suspension
  • Fourth Offense: 1 year suspension
  • Fifth Offense: 1 year suspension

OUI - Child Endangerment

Massachusetts license suspensions for a criminal offense of OUI - Child Endangerment, which involves matters of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol with a child of 14 years of age or younger in the vehicle, are determined under G.L. c. 90, § 24V.

  • First Offense
    • License suspension: 1 year
  • Second Offense
    • License suspension: 3 years
    • Reinstatement requirements: Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test
  • Third Offense
    • License suspension: 3 years
    • Reinstatement requirements: Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test
  • Fourth Offense
    • License suspension: 3 years
    • Reinstatement requirements: Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test
  • Fifth Offense
    • License suspension: 3 years
    • Reinstatement requirements: Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test

OUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury

Massachusetts license suspensions for a criminal offense of operating under the influence causing serious bodily injury are determined under G.L. c. 90, § 24L.

  • First Offense
    • License suspension: 2 years
    • Reinstatement requirements: Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test
  • Second Offense
    • License suspension: 2 years
    • Reinstatement requirements: Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test
  • Third Offense
    • License suspension: 2 years
    • Reinstatement requirements: Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test
  • Fourth Offense
    • License suspension: 2 years
    • Reinstatement requirements: Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test
  • Fifth Offense
    • License suspension: 2 years
    • Reinstatement requirements: Pass a learner’s permit exam and a road test

Hardship License

Are You Eligible for a Hardship License?

In order to qualify for a hardship license, you have to be able to prove that you have an actual hardship. This can be in relation to work, school, medical, family, or any other obligations. You must be able to provide the proper documentation to support the hardship as well.

The RMV may not grant you a hardship license if they believe you are a potential threat to public safety. Further, 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 are able to show recovery, such as a commitment to sobriety, this would help your chances of obtaining a hardship license.

If you refused to submit to a breath test in your case, you are not eligible for a hardship license. The only exception to this is upon acceptance of responsibility as a first offender or if your case has been resolved pursuant to Commonwealth v. Cahill, 442 Mass. 127 (2004), while the chemical test refusal suspension is still in effect. 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.

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 attend a hearing at select RMV hearing sites listed below. You should also bring all required documents with you when you meet with the hearings officer.

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

Length of Suspension

Work/Education Hardship

General Hardship

1 year (365 days)

3 months into OUI suspension

6 months into OUI suspension

2 years (730 days)

1 year into OUI suspension

18 months into OUI suspension

8 years (2920 days)

2 years into OUI suspension

4 years into OUI suspension

10 years (3650 days)

5 years into OUI suspension

8 years into OUI suspension

  • The applicant must provide documented proof of completion of the proper alcohol treatment program.
  • 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
    • The applicant has completed the National Safety Council Driver Retraining Course within three years of this request.
    • IID 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

Interlock Ignition Device

If you are a multiple OUI offender, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle that you own, any vehicle that is registered to you, and any vehicle that you drive, including those for work. An ignition interlock device is required for the duration of a hardship license. An ignition interlock lock device must also be installed for a minimum of two years upon the reinstatement of a full license. For more information regarding ignition interlock devices, please view our ignition interlock devices page.

Suspension Hearings

Registry of Motor Vehicles Suspension Hearings

If your Massachusetts driver’s license is suspended, you can seek a Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) hearing at certain RMV Service Centers to appeal your suspension or to reinstate your license.

What You Need for a Suspension Hearing

Bring all necessary documentation. Documentation varies based on what type of license suspension you have. Arrive as early as possible and allow extra time. Our firm recommends you arrive at least 30 minutes before opening hours.

Once at the RMV, you will be given an application to complete. Make sure your application is fully completed. The Hearing’s Officer will collect the submitted application and will verify the accuracy of the suspension and review the application in advance of your hearing. The applications are numbered but you will be called by your name. You will be called into the Hearing Officer’s office for the hearing to present your request for reinstatement.

Hearings Sites and Schedules

Suspension hearings are available at the RMV by walk-ins only. You can access each hearing sites’ webpage to see live wait times. Please click on the location of each hearing site for more details.

  • Boston
    • 136 Blackstone St., Boston, MA 02109
    • Suspension hearings: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Brockton
    • 490 Forest Ave., Brockton, MA 02301
    • Suspension hearings: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Fall River
    • 1794 North Main St., Fall River, MA 02720
    • Suspension hearings: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Lawrence
    • 73 Winthrop Ave., Lawrence, MA 01843
    • Suspension hearings: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Pittsfield (Wednesdays only)
    • 333 East St., Pittsfield, MA 01201
    • Suspension hearings: Wednesdays 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • South Yarmouth (Mondays and Tuesdays only)
    • 1084 Route 28, South Yarmouth, MA 02664
    • Suspension hearings: Monday and Tuesdays 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Springfield
    • 1250 St. James Ave, Springfield, MA 01104
    • Suspension hearings: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Wilmington
    • 355 Middlesex Ave., Wilmington, MA 01887
    • Suspension hearings: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Worcester
    • 611 Main St., Worcester, MA 01608
    • Suspension hearings: 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

How Much Does it Cost to Restore My License?

Reinstatement Fees are determined by 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

The Board of Appeal

Appealing a Decision From the RMV

If you disagree with the RMV’s decision, you can appeal that decision to the Board of Appeal (BOA). The Board consists of attorneys who are appointed from the Attorney General’s Office and the Division of Insurance. The Board has the authority to overturn the decisions of the RMV and issue orders to the RMV.

How to appeal a decision from the RMV:

  • Complete and mail the appeal a ruling/decision of the RMV form
  • Pay the $50 appeal fee
  • Appear in person for the hearing at the time and date provided to you on a Notice of Hearing letter you will receive from the Board

If you wish to appeal an RMV’s decision and wish to retain our firm for representation at a BOA hearing, our firm would appeal the decision on your behalf. Our firm will complete the application and schedule the hearing. The scheduling of a hearing with the BOA may take a couple of months. With your assistance, our firm would prepare a memorandum with supporting letters and documentation to present to the BOA with your presence at your hearing. Our attorneys will vigorously advocate for the restoration of your license at the hearing and prepare you for any questions the Board may ask of you at the hearing.

Hire An Attorney Who Knows the Ins and Outs of License Suspensions

Holding an active license is critical for most of our clients. Whether you drive for work, or need to take care of your family, we can assist you in obtaining your license. Our firm has extensive experience presenting cases before the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Board of Appeal. We can put you in the best position to obtain your license.

Contact a Massachusetts OUI lawyer immediately if you would like more information on driver's license restoration after an OUI incident.

Lawyers Who Provide a Scientific Defense

  • Trained Breath Test Machine Operator

    Attorney Joseph D. Bernard is the only lawyer in Massachusetts to have completed the breath test training conducted by the state police.

  • Certified Field Sobriety Test Administers

    Our attorneys are certified administers of the field sobriety test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  • Former Assistant District Attorney

    We understand OUI cases from both sides of the fence and know exactly how to defend our clients.

  • Unique Certification & Expertise

    Attorney Joseph Bernard is the only lawyer in Massachusetts to be certified by the international acclaimed Borkenstein drug and alcohol courses.

Meet The Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard P.C.

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