How do you Appeal a License Suspension before the Board of Appeals?

License Suspensions, revocations and hardship Licenses

Attorney Gaudreau discusses the process for appealing a license suspension in Massachusetts

Having your license suspended or revoked can have devastating effects. Most people rely on their ability to drive to get to work or to pick up their children. Without a license you have to rely on family, taxis or buses and some people don’t have access to these alternatives. If the RMV has suspended or revoked your license you may appeal that decision to the Board of Appeal. The process is often confusing and difficult to navigate. This report helps to explain reasons you may have lost your license and how to appeal your suspension or revocation and request a hardship license.

Under Massachusetts law a driver’s license can be suspended or revoked for a variety of a reasons including:

  • 7 surchargable offenses within a three year period- 60 day loss
  • Immediate threat - If the RMV determines that allowing you to continue driving poses an immediate threat to public safety, for either medical reasons or evidence of dangerous driving-license can be suspended immediately for an indefinite period of time
  • Certain criminal offenses including operating under the influence, certain drugs charges-loss determined by charge
  • Habitual traffic offender - three major moving violations or twelve minor moving violations within a period of five years. Major moving violations include operating a motor vehicle recklessly or negligently, leaving the scene of an accident, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license or operating a motor vehicle without a license, and committing a felony with a motor vehicle. Minor moving violations include: speeding tickets, driving with an expired inspection sticker, or driving with an unregistered motor vehicle- 4 year license loss

The first step to appealing the RMV’s decision or to apply for a hardship license is to appear before the RMV. If your license is suspended or revoked, you have the right to a hearing with a Hearings Officer at a RMV location that holds hearings. The hearing is somewhat informal and it will typically be held in an office. At your hearing, the RMV Hearings Officer will review your case, including your driving record and all applicable laws and regulations. You have the right to be represented by counsel at any RMV suspension / license reinstatement hearing.

In some instances you may be able to apply for a hardship license. A hardship license or Cinderella license allows you to drive for twelve hours. The RMV will consider a hardship license in the following offenses:

  • Operating under the influence
  • First offense alcohol or drug program
  • Drug conviction
  • Habitual traffic offender

To be eligible for a hardship license, you are required to present proof that you do not have access by public transportation to your required destination. You may also have to serve a certain period of the suspension/revocation prior to being able to apply for a hardship license.

Appealing to the Board

If your appeal of the suspension or revocation has been denied or your hardship license has been denied by the RMV you have the right to appeal the decision of the RMV to the Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds (the board) under G.L. c. 90 section 28. The statute authorizes the Board to reverse a Registry hearing officers decision. The Board is given broad power to modify or annul license suspensions & revocations. The Board of Appeal also has the power to order the Registry to issue hardship licenses.

Depending on the length of the license loss, a hearing will be scheduled within two to twelve weeks of filing. Priority is given to individuals with shorter suspension periods.

The Hearing Before the Board

Board of Appeal hearings are more formal than Registry hearings. The hearings are conducted in public courtrooms or hearing rooms before the three members of the Board. Witnesses are sworn in at these hearings, certain rules of evidence and procedure apply, and all testimony is recorded. You have the right to be represented by an attorney at this hearing, which is recommended.

At the hearing a RMV officer will present the board with a copy of your driving history and notes your current license status, the type of suspension or revocation, its duration, and the grounds for the RMV's action. After the board's initial questions, your attorney will be invited to present your case.

The board while then decide whether or not they will grant you a hardship, overrule the RMV’s decision and reinstate your license or if they will affirm the RMV’s suspension. The decision is based on a majority vote of the three board members. All appeals are taken under advisement, this means will not be notified on the date of the hearing if your license has been reinstated. You will be notified of the decision by mail, usually within a few days.

An experienced attorney will be able to draft your memorandum and put forth the best possible argument on your behalf in front of the Board of Appeal’s. If your license is suspended and you are looking to appeal the RMV’s decision or if you are seeking a hardship license contact Attorney DelSignore at 781-686-5924.

Further Reading