Out of State License Suspensions
Massachusetts License Suspensions for Out of State OUI
If you are faced with an OUI or a similar violation in a state other than Massachusetts, there may be consequences for your Massachusetts driver’s license. The law permits the Registry of Motor Vehicles (“RMV”) to not only suspend your license indefinitely until you are cleared of any other out of state suspensions, it also permits the RMV to suspend your license for out of state offenses just as if the offense had occurred here in Massachusetts. G.L. c. 90, §22. Dealing with these license suspensions can be confusing and frustrating. Our attorneys are experienced at working with the Registry of Motor Vehicles and we can help you navigate through what may be a complex process.
Out of State Suspensions
If you hold a Massachusetts license and you receive a suspension in another state, your driving privileges are only restricted in that state; the state does not have the authority to suspend your right to drive elsewhere. However, anytime the RMV learns that your right to drive in another state has been suspended, it will issue a suspension on your Massachusetts license, effectively prohibiting you from legally driving in any state. G.L. c. 90, §22 permits the RMV to indefinitely suspend your license if you are suspended in another state until you are reinstated out of state. Unfortunately, there is no hardship license available for this type of license suspension. Once you are able to show proof of your reinstatement, the RMV will clear the indefinite suspension on your license.
The RMV is able to learn of out of state suspensions and offenses through the National Driver Registry (“NDR”). The NDR maintains the computerized database known as the Problem Driver Pointer System (“PDPS”) which contains information on individuals whose privilege to operate a motor vehicle has been revoked, suspended, canceled or denied or who have been convicted of serious traffic-related offenses in a particular state. The RMV is able to review out of state information in the NDR and use this information to suspend your license.
An indefinite suspension is a very harsh penalty and we know that it is critical to resolve this type of suspension as quickly as possible. If you are facing an out of state suspension, we can assist you in obtaining the necessary documents as proof of your reinstatement and guide you through the RMV process in order to get back your Massachusetts license.
Out of State OUI
Even though you may have already faced a suspension in another state, Massachusetts permits the RMV to suspend your license in reciprocity for an out of state OUI. While this certainly feels like being punished for the same offense twice, our courts have held that the RMV’s reciprocal suspension does not violate double jeopardy laws. Luk v. Commonwealth, 421 Mass. 415, 426-427 (1995); Gordon v. Registry of Motor Vehicles, 75 Mass. App. Ct. 47, 53 (2009).
In order for the RMV to suspend your license for an out of state impaired driving offense, the elements of the impaired driving crime must be the same or substantially similar to the elements of OUI in Massachusetts. Dowling v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles, 425 Mass. 523 (1997). In Massachusetts, the elements of an OUI charge are:
- Operation of a motor vehicle
- On a public way
- While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs
If an out of state offense has the same or similar elements, then your Massachusetts license could be suspended for OUI. Even if the impaired driving related offense is resolved as a non-criminal violation, if the elements of the charge involve operating a motor vehicle while impaired by any amount of alcohol or drugs, the RMV can suspend your license. New York, for example, permits defendants to accept responsibility for the non-criminal traffic violation of Driving While Ability is Impaired (“DWAI”), which does not specify any level of alcohol consumption, but the RMV can legally still recognize this as an OUI in Massachusetts. Callahan v. Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds, 90 Mass. App. Ct. 196 (2016).
The length of your license suspension will depend on the level of the OUI offense and it must begin at the date of the conviction. DiGregorio v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles, 78 Mass. App. Ct. 775 (2011). Oftentimes the RMV may not learn of an out of state offense until long after the fact and issue a suspension that begins much later than the date of the conviction. This problem, however, can be addressed and remedied with the RMV through a hearing. In some instances, once the suspension is properly backdated, the entire suspension period may be considered fully served even though you were able to drive during that time.
If you are facing a first offense OUI from out of state, the RMV will automatically suspend your license for one year under G.L. c. 90, §24. This is a harsh suspension for a first offender, and the RMV may allow you to reduce the suspension to a minimum of 45 days if you are able to show that your case has been resolved in court, you have completed an alcohol education course, and your out of state suspension has been resolved.
If you hold a Massachusetts license and are facing an impaired driving offense in another state, it is critical that you speak with an experienced Massachusetts attorney before accepting any form of responsibility. It is important that you have full knowledge of all potential consequences to your license and be able to discuss your options ahead of time. If you are charged with an out of state offense, contact our office to learn about how you may be impacted in Massachusetts.
Lawyers Who Can Help You Restore Your License
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard, P.C 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 restoring your 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 Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard P.C. for a free case consultation!
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 internationally acclaimed Borkenstein drug and alcohol courses. Attorney Bernard is also the only lawyer in Massachusetts who is a member of the American Chemical Society.