Applying for a Hardship License After Multiple OUI Convictions

Massachusetts Department of Transportation BuildingMassachusetts lawmakers, police officers, and district attorneys all take drunk driving seriously. Operating under the influence (OUI) is a serious offense and convictions can have a serious impact on one’s life. A first offense conviction can carry more than $3,000 in court fees alone! Not only will a conviction hit you in the wallet but the RMV will also suspend your license. The more drunk driving convictions one has, the higher the fines and the longer the license suspension. 

Not only can these cases be won in court, but if your license is suspended, the RMV oftentimes can grant you a hardship license for work, school, or medical purposes. If you face a driving under the influence charge or your license is already suspended, contact Attorney Gilman for a free consultation.

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles is authorized to grant hardship licenses to individuals who have no more than four convictions for driving under the influence. When determining the number of offenses an individual has, the RMV will consider not just offenses that have occurred in Massachusetts but also those that may have occurred out of the state. Below are just the minimum requirements that the RMV has in place for hardship licenses.

Second-Offense OUI Hardship License Requirements

If you have been convicted of a second OUI offense, you are not eligible to apply for a hardship license at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles until you have served one year of a two-year license suspension. If you refused the breathalyzer test and are already serving a three-year license suspension for that refusal, you are not eligible to apply for a hardship license until four years pass from the date of the incident. At a minimum, to apply for a second-offense hardship license, applicants must present evidence that they were discharged from a proper 14 day in-house treatment program, evidence that they are in compliance with all ordered after-care, and documentation from the Massachusetts Probation Department, not more than 30 days old, stating the applicant is in compliance with probation. In addition, the applicant must provide documentation evidencing a hardship. The Registry of Motor Vehicles Hearing Officer will require at a minimum a letter from your employer, a school schedule, or medical documentation to evidence a hardship. If successful in being approved for a hardship license, you will need to have an ignition interlock device installed in every vehicle that you lease, own, or will operate.

Under the Supreme Judicial Court Case of Commonwealth v. Cahill, 442 Mass. 127 (2004), a first-offense hardship license can be issued after a conviction for a second drunk driving offense. This special situation arises when an individual’s second offense occurs at least ten years after their first OUI offense. Under these circumstances, an individual may be able to avoid a two-year loss of license if the court treats the most recent offense as a first offense and imposes the 24D disposition. If the court treats the most recent offense as a “second” first offense, the Registry of Motor Vehicle’s Hearing Officer will still require you to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle you or operate; however, you are immediately eligible to apply for a hardship license.

Third-Offense OUI Hardship License Requirements

If you have been convicted of a third OUI, you are not eligible to apply for a hardship license at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles until you have served two years of an eight-year license suspension. If you refused the breathalyzer test and are already serving a five-year license suspension for that refusal, you are not eligible to apply for a hardship license until six years pass from the date of the incident. At a minimum, to apply for a third-offense hardship license, applicants must present evidence that they were discharged from a proper 90 day in-house treatment program, evidence that they are in compliance with all ordered after-care, and documentation from the Massachusetts Probation Department, not more than 30 days old, stating the applicant is in compliance with probation. In addition, the applicant must provide documentation evidencing a hardship. The Registry of Motor Vehicles hearing officer will require at a minimum a letter from your employer, a school schedule, or medical documentation to evidence a hardship. Applicants who are applying for a third-offense hardship license will need to have their application package approved by the Director of the Massachusetts Drivers Control Unit. If successful in being approved for a hardship license, you will need to have an ignition interlock device installed in every vehicle that you lease, own, or will operate.

Fourth-Offense OUI Hardship License Requirements

If you have been convicted of a fourth OUI, you are not eligible to apply for a hardship license at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles until you have served five years of a ten-year license suspension. If you refused the breathalyzer test, you likely have a lifetime loss of license suspension, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles will not grant you a hardship license. If you took the breathalyzer test, you are not eligible to apply for a hardship license until five years pass from the date of conviction. At a minimum, to apply for a fourth offense hardship license, applicants must present evidence that they were discharged from a proper 90 day in-house treatment program, evidence that they are in compliance with all ordered after-care, and documentation from the Massachusetts Probation Department, not more than 30 days old, stating the applicant is in compliance with probation. In addition, the applicant must provide documentation evidencing a hardship. The Registry of Motor Vehicles hearing officer will require at a minimum a letter from your employer, a school schedule, or medical documentation to evidence a hardship. Applicants who are applying for a fourth-offense hardship license will need to have their application package approved by the Director of the Massachusetts Drivers Control Unit. If successful in being approved for a hardship license, you will need to have an ignition interlock device installed in every vehicle that you lease, own, or will operate.