Your driver's license is one of your most valuable assets.
Without it, you will likely find it difficult, if not impossible, to handle life's most basic but most vital tasks. Getting to work, getting your kids to school and medical appointments, getting back and forth to the grocery store – most people are wholly dependent on their drivers' licenses for these necessary activities. However, for a variety of reasons, the Registry of Motor Vehicles can revoke your license.
When your driver's license is on the line, your livelihood and freedom to move about hang in the balance. With so much at stake, the prospect of navigating the courts, the registry of motor vehicles, and the board of appeals can be overwhelming. Our knowledgeable team is here to forge a path to getting you back on the road.
Drunk driving suspensions:
If police arrest you because they suspect you are driving drunk, they will ask you to take a breathalyzer test. If you register a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher, or if you are under 21 years old and register a blood-alcohol level of 0.02 or higher, your driver's license will be suspended for 30 days. If you are under 21, you could face an even longer term of suspension.
Of course, you have the right to refuse to take the breathalyzer. Click here for more information on breathalyzer refusals. If you refuse the breathalyzer and it is your first offense, you will lose your license for 180 days. If you are under 21 years old or have prior drunk driving offenses, you could face a longer period of suspension.
If you are convicted of operating under the influence, the court will order your license suspended. However, there is a way to get a hardship license, commonly referred to as a "Cinderella license." A hardship license will permit you to drive within a 12-hour window every day. Within those 12 hours, you will have the chance to handle childcare responsibilities, get to and from work, and attend to all of life's necessities.
Hardship licenses are not automatic, however. Instead, after you are convicted of a drunk driving offense, you must go to the RMV for a hearing. You must show the hearing officer proof of employment, and proof that you are unable to use public transportation or another alternative to get to and from work.
You can apply for a hardship license shortly after your conviction. As a result of your conviction, the court will likely order that you take a variety of alcohol awareness classes. Three days after you register for the classes, you can apply for your hardship license.
If you lost your license due to a drunk driving conviction, we can help you get back on the road. Depending on your particular background and your employment circumstances, we will help you gather the necessary documents and appear with you at your hardship hearing. With our proven advocacy skills, we can help you get back on the road – the first step to getting your life back on track.
Habitual traffic offenders:
Small problems have a way of snowballing into big problems. A single speeding ticket is a minor inconvenience and a small fine. But if you accumulate 12 or more traffic violations within a five-year period, the RMV can revoke your license for four years – a huge problem! The RMV will give you a hearing, but only to challenge the accuracy of your driving record. If you indeed accumulated 12 traffic violations, the RMV will revoke your license.
You are entitled to a second hearing, however, with the RMV Board of Appeals. At this hearing, the Board of Appeals can consider a wider variety of issues – whether there are any mitigating factors involved with any of your 12 violations, whether you have addressed any underlying problems that caused your traffic violations, whether you will suffer any hardship if you lose your license. We can help guide you through this process and advocate for you at your hearings.
Under Mass. Gen. Law ch. 90, section 29, whenever there is a fatal accident, the operator's license will be suspended indefinitely while the cause of the accident remains under investigation unless a preliminary investigation reveals that the operator was not at fault. Assuming there is no clear indication the operator was not at fault, the operator's license will be revoked, and cannot be reinstated for at least six months, following which, the operator can request a reinstatement hearing. If charges are issued, the RMV will then suspend the operator's license as an "immediate threat," which is described more fully below.
Immediate Threat and Medical Suspensions:
Pursuant to Mass. Gen. Law ch. 90, section 22, the RMV has the authority to suspend a driver's license without a hearing if the driver committed a driving violation "of a nature which would give the registrar reason to believe that continuing operation by such holder is and will be so seriously improper as to constitute an immediate threat to the public safety." This is called an "immediate threat" suspension. Police have wide discretion to initiate these suspensions whenever they feel that particular driving behavior meets that highly subjective standard. A person who receives an immediate threat suspension has the right to a hearing at the RMV where they can request reinstatement.
Similarly, the same statute permits suspension of a person's driver license when there is reason to believe that the driver suffers from some sort of incapacity or medical issue which renders their operation unsafe. There is a right to a hearing to contest this type of suspension as well.
For most people, driving is the only way to handle life's necessary activities. This creates a big problem for non-citizens living in the United States without lawful immigration status. As a result, undocumented immigrants sometimes obtain driver's licenses under false identities. This can create problems for you even after you obtain lawful immigration status. If the RMV suspects that you had a driver's license under a false name, they can revoke your license, even after you get a green card.
The good news is, there is still hope. You can schedule a hearing with the RMV to prove your identity. We can help you identify documents necessary to prove your true identity and establish your residency in Massachusetts. We can appear with you at the hearing in order to help you address these complex, sensitive issues with the RMV.
If you are charged with possession of a fraudulent identification, you should call us right away. Although these cases seem straightforward, they are in reality almost always vulnerable to attack. There is a fairly significant paper trail that the prosecutor must assemble, together with a series of witnesses which the prosecutor must line up in order to present these cases at trial. Prosecutors are rarely aware of all the technical connections they must establish to secure a conviction. When we appear on your behalf, rest assured, the prosecutor is in for a most unpleasant surprise.
Most lawyers tell their clients to plead guilty to these charges, because they cannot envision a practical defense. That is simply a shame. Our office has obtained dismissal of these charges in virtually every case we have handled.
Because many license suspension charges are misdemeanors, you may be entitled to a clerk's hearing prior to the issuance of any criminal complaint. Click here for an in-depth discussion of clerk's hearings. Also, because most license related offenses constitute "motor vehicle" offenses, click here to check out our discussion of how we can take advantage of errors in the citation process to seek dismissal of your charges under the "no-fix" laws.