Frequently Asked Questions About License Suspension and OUI
When faced with license suspension, OUI, or other traffic-related charges, many people search online for answers. Attorney Matthew Gilman understands this, and drawing from his extensive legal background and experience working for the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, has compiled answers to the questions he hears most often from his clients.
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What is a Hardship License
Everyday the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) sends out countless license suspension notices. Most notices only provide you with the start date and length of the suspension and vague one setence reason for the suspension. The notices are bare and do not provide you with anyguidance or information. There are a large number of ways that the Registry can suspend your driving privileges. In fact, you may not even be a Massachusetts Resident or License Holder and the Registry can suspend your privilege to operate in Massachusetts.
Depending on the reason for your license suspension you may be eliglbe to apply for a Hardship License at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The Registry only grants relief for individuals suspended for Operating Under the Influnce (first and second offenses) and those suspended as Habititual Traffic Offenders. The Division of Insurance Board of Appeals has much more authority and can grant hardship relief for just about any type of suspension. The Board at this time will not consider granting hardship relief for Chemical Test Refusal (breathalyzer test refusal) suspensions.
Whether you are eligible at the Registry or the Board depends a number of factors, such as:
- Type of Suspension;
- Length of Suspension;
- How time has been served; and
- Is there any evidence that you have operated a vehicle during the suspension period.
In general a hardship license is license that can be used for any purpose seven days a week but is limited to just twelve (12) hours a day. Most people think of a hardship license as a work license, but once the license is granted, it can be used for any purpose. The most common grounds that a hardship license is granted is for employment, medical and family raising purposes. Attorney Gilman guides his clients through the process to ensure they obtain all the necessary to show the need for the hardship relief.
If your license or right to operate is suspended, please contact Attorney Gilman for a free case review and consultation. After your free consultations you will have all the answers to your questions and know exactly what steps must be taken in order to get your license and driving privileges reinstated. Having a former hearing officer review your case will ensure you get truthful answers and advice.
I have been charged with my first OUI / DUI offense. What are the possible penalties I am facing?
There may be no more complicated law in Massachusetts than the OUI / DUI laws. The law is long and often requires that you flip back and forth between sections in order to get a complete picture of what is at stake. When we speak about what is at stake, we are not just discussing whether there you could be sent to jail. There are significant consequences related to your drivers license that depend on the outcome of your case. Attorney Gilman is available 24/7 at (978) 612-6447 to speak with you about your case and help you understand all the possible consequences of your case.
Criminal Penalties: The law does permit the court to sentence individuals who are convicted or plea to a first offense OUI / DUI to up to 2.5 years in the House of Correction, a fine between $500.00 to $5000.00 or to do both. However, most first offense OUI / DUI convictions do not result in a jail sentence. Most first offense OUI / DUI convictions or pleas result in the court imposing an alternative resolution that is provided for in Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 90, § 24D.
24D Alternative Disposition: The most common disposition imposed by courts across the Commonwealth on first offense OUI / DUI cases is the 24D Program. Under the 24D Program, individuals are placed on probation for up to 2 years and ordered to complete the Driver Alcohol Education (DAE) Program. The Driver Alcohol Education Program is a class that meets once a week for sixteen weeks. The weekly meetings are approximately 90 minutes. In addition to the program requirement, the court will suspend your right to operate a motor vehicle for 45 to 90 days. This license suspension will be added on to any suspension you are currently serving for refusing the breath test.
If you are assigned to the 24D Program there are significant fees and fines that the court will impose. Attorney Gilman has had success in having some of the fees and fines waived but some cannot be waived.
- $65 per month Probation Supervision Fee;
- $250 Head Injury Assessment;
- $250 24D Program Fee;
- $50.00 Victims of Drunk Driving Fee;
- Driver Alcohol Education Program Fee.
Most courts will require the fees and fines be paid in monthly installments during the probation period.
License Suspension Consequences: Unless you are assigned to the 24D alternative disposition, you will face a one-year license suspension. By statute, if your license is suspended for one year, you are not eligible to apply for any hardship relief or work license until three months following your conviction. If the court assigns you to the 24D Program you will have a license suspension of between 45 and 90 days. Those who are assigned to the 24D program are immediately eligible to apply for a 12 hours hardship license or work license. These license suspension periods are limited to the OUI / DUI conviction. If you refused the breath test, any court imposed license suspension will be added to the breath test refusal suspension.
- For example, a person with no prior OUI / DUI convictions or assignments to any substance abuse treatment program who is arrested for OUI / DUI will in most instances be offered a chemical breath test at the police station. You have every right to refuse to take this test and the Commonwealth is not permitted to introduce any evidence of your refusal at trial. However, if you do refuse the test your drivers license will be suspended for 180 days (if you have no prior convictions). Assume that two months have passed and you decide you want to resolve the case and get the alternative 24D disposition. The court will impose a license suspension of 45-90 days. The Registry of Motor Vehicles when it receives the case disposition will add this 45-90 day suspension to the end of what remains of the 180-day license suspension.
How to Get a Hardship License: If you have been convicted or plea to a first offense OUI / DUI and you have no prior OUI / DUI convictions or program assignments you are eligible to apply for a Hardship License. A Hardship License is commonly known as a work license or Cinderella license. In Massachusetts a Hardship License allows you to drive during a 12-hour window. This 12-hour window does not change day to day but allows you to operate 7 days a week during the time period. To be eligible to apply you must meet the following steps:
Step 1: Your criminal matter must be resolved and the final disposition/resolution information must be sent to the Registry of Motor Vehicles;
Step 2: You must complete the Driver Alcohol Education Program Intake Process and obtain Enrollment Verification;
Step 3: You must obtain documentation that shows the license suspension has caused you. The Registry of Motor Vehicles has very limited grounds it will consider granting a Hardship License for and very strict requirements on the documentation that is necessary to satisfy the showing of the hardship; and
Step 4: You must go to a Registry of Motor Vehicles Branch where a Hearing Officer is located and request to have a hearing. At the hearing, the Hearing Officer will review your hardship/work documentation to ensure it meets the RMV's requirements as well as the Program Enrollment Verification. A Hearing Officer is under no obligation to grant anyone a Hardship License. The decision is completely discretionary.
When you are charged with your first OUI / DUI it is important to have an Attorney on your side who understands both the possible criminal penalties but also the license suspension ramifications. As a Criminal Defense Attorney and Former Hearings Officer, Attorney Gilman understands how challenging it can be to get all the information you need. Attorney Gilman travels across the Commonwealth to represent clients faced a first offense OUI / DUI charges and license suspensions. Contact Gilman Law, P.C. to speak directly with Attorney Gilman and schedule a free consultation today.
I have been charged with my first OUI or DUI. What are my options?
Every day, in every corner of Massachusetts, people are arrested and charged with operating under the influence of liquor or drugs (OUI or DUI). It does not matter what city or town you live in, who you know, or what kind of car you drive, every day countless people's lives are changed because of Operating Under the Influence charges. You should not let this charge or the immediate license suspension make you feel hopeless. In fact, you have many rights and options right at your fingertips to immediately take charge of the situation.
Gilman Law, P.C. specializes in DUI and OUI defense and license suspension law. Our experience can ensure you have the strongest defense and get you your license reinstated as quickly as possible.
Individuals charged with OUI or DUI must balance many competing goals and interests. If you took and failed the chemical breathalyzer test, your license will most likely be suspended for 30 days. If you refused the test, your license will be suspended for at minimum 180 days. However, you have the right to appeal the refusal suspension within 15 days from your arrest. There are many competing interests that must be discussed and analyzed in order to develop a defense.
Just like in any criminal case your options with the criminal charge of OUI or DUI boils down to just two options: Fight or Plea.
Fighting the Case
Just because you have been charged with OUI or DUI, you are presumed innocent. You have absolutely no burden to prove you are innocent because in our justice system you sit in court presumed to be. The prosecutor or judge may not make you feel like you are innocent, but at the end of the day, it is the Commonwealth's prosecutors job to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Fighting the charge will take some time and in many cases will require multiple pretrial court hearings before you get your trial date. It takes time to make sure your rights are being protected and we have all the information from the Commonwealth and that no stones have been left unturned. All the court dates are designed to make sure you are put in the best position to receive a not guilty verdict on the day of trial. If you fight and lose, and this is a first offense OUI or DUI, you are most likely to receive the same exact sentence that you would have received if you elected option two and plead to the charge.
Resolve the Case With a Plea
If you have no prior OUI or DUI convictions or assignments to substance abuse treatment programs, you can expect that your case will be continued without a finding for one year from the date of your plea. A continuance without a finding (CWOF) is not a conviction in the general sense. However, a CWOF will count as a prior OUI or DUI for any future offenses. If the court grants you a CWOF you can expect the following requirements:
- Probation for one year (many courts will allow you to bring the case forward after nine months if you successfully complete the Driver Alcohol Education (DAE) Program
- Entry into a 16-week (90 minutes a week) Driver Alcohol Education Program
- A license suspension of 45 to 90 days (this is in addition to any suspension for refusal of the breathalyzer test at the police station)
- Monetary Fines over $1000.00
Upon the court's acceptance of your plea and your admission into the Driver Alcohol Education (DAE) Program, you will be eligible to apply for a 12-hour hardship license through the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Attorney Gilman will assist you in applying for a hardship license.
If you have been charged with OUI or DUI Attorney Gilman is available 24/7 to discuss your case and your options. For a free case evaluation with Attorney Gilman, just fill out the contact form below or call (978) 612-6447.