Massachusetts law provides just a few basic reasons to take away a driver’s license—but each of these provisions comes with its own collection of exceptions and special rules. Today, we’ll take a close look at those principles.
Habitual Traffic Offender Suspensions
Did you know that your motor vehicle license could be suspended for four years if you were to get 12 civil infractions in five years or just three convictions for major offenses? Under M.G.L. c. 90, § 22F the Registry of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend an individual’s license for four years if they are determined to be a Habitual Traffic Offender.
The Registry of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend your license for four years if you have three convictions of “major offenses” within any five year period. The Registry is not limited to looking at just convictions arising out of offenses in Massachusetts. Out-of-state offense convictions may count.
The major offenses include convictions for:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or liquor.
- Reckless or negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
- Making a false statement in an application for a learner’s permit or motor vehicle license or in an application for a motor vehicle registration.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving either personal injury or property damage.
- Operating a motor vehicle after suspension or revocation of your license.
- Unlicensed operation.
- Using a motor vehicle to commit a felony.
For operating under the influence of liquor or drugs an “Admission to Sufficient Facts” or “Continuance Without a Finding” are convictions for license suspension matters.
You can also have your license suspended for four years if you are found responsible for 12 moving violations or any combination of moving violations and major offenses that equal 12 responsible and guilty findings.
By law, you are entitled to a hearing before a Hearings Officer before the Registry enacting the four-year suspension. In fact, you should receive a letter from the Registry that informs you of this. However, this hearing is not to beg or plead your case as to why the suspension if not fair. The only issue that may be raised at this hearing is whether or not Registry’s record is accurate. If the record is accurate, then the Hearings Officer has no discretion but to move forward with the license suspension.
If the suspension is valid and you are deemed a Habitual Traffic Offender you will be eligible to apply after one year of the suspension to the Registry for a hardship license. The Board may consider an appeal earlier, but this requires extraordinary circumstances. If there is any evidence that you have operated a motor vehicle during the suspension period, the Registry will automatically deny your hardship appeal.
Prior to appealing to either the Registry or the Board of Appeals you must attend and complete the National Safety Council eight-hour Attitudinal Dynamics of Driving (ADD) program.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Under Massachusetts law, when a person is convicted of leaving the scene of either personal injury or property damage, there is a mandatory license suspension in addition to any criminal penalties.
When you are involved in an accident in Massachusetts, the law does not require a lot, but you cannot just leave. You are required to stop and exchange your name, home address, and vehicle registration information. Failure to immediately stop and exchange these basic pieces of information could lead to significant criminal charges and driver license ramifications.
If you are found guilty or plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident causing property damage, the result will be a 60-day license suspension for a first offense. If you have a prior conviction for the same charge within three years, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year.
If you are found guilty or plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident that caused personal injury, your license will be suspended for one year. If at any point you were previously convicted for the same charge, your license suspension will be for two years.
If you are convicted for leaving the scene of personal injury or property damage, the Registry of Motor Vehicles has no legal authority and will not consider you for a hardship license. Although the Registry of Motor Vehicles will not consider your hardship appeal, the Board of Appeal has authority to hear your appeal and grant you a hardship license. However, whether the Board will grant any relief is not guaranteed. Although empowered to grant relief whether the Board votes to exercise it is entirely discretionary. In most cases, the Registry will be represented by an attorney. At the hearing, they will present your driving and criminal records to the Board and argue against you.
If your license is suspended for leaving the scene of personal injury or property damage, Gilman Law can help you get back on the road.
License Fraud Suspensions
Did your friend tell you it would be ok to go and use his information to apply for and obtain a Massachusetts license or identification card? If so, you have put yourself and your friend into the arena of the Registry of Motor Vehicles and Massachusetts State Police Compliance Unit. In conjunction with each other, the Registry and State Police investigate and even bring criminal charges against those alleged to have committed license fraud. This can include putting a false residential address on a license application.
The Registry Hearings Officers assigned to the Enforcement Services Department will automatically suspend your driver’s license if allegations of license fraud are brought forward. If you receive a letter that your license is being suspended for “Comp Fraud LIC/ID” you need to be prepared. Your license will not be reinstated until a hearing is conducted with the Special Investigations Unit which is only held at 10 Park Plaza the MassDOT Building in Boston. These are not walk-in hearings but require that you call and schedule an appointment. Attorney Gilman has had great success in postponing the immediate license suspensions while the hearing process is taking place.
At the hearing, you can expect a Hearings Officer to question you and anyone associated with the alleged fraud as to what went all but also to determine everyone’s true identifications. You will be required to present numerous documents to prove you are who you say you are, such as documents that show your date of birth, signature, immigration status, and residential address.
If after the hearing it is concluded that you either provided false documents or information to obtain a Massachusetts license or identification card your license will be suspended. Only after a decision is made by the Special Investigations Unit can you begin to take steps to obtain any hardship relief. The Registry of Motor Vehicles will not consider any application for hardship relief for these suspensions, but the Board of Appeal has the authority to hear these appeals. The Board is your only avenue for any relief during the suspension period. Attorney Gilman has handled many of these appeals and obtained the relief his clients were looking for.