When license suspensions first emerged as a legal punishment, the purposes were straightforward: punish drivers who behave in an unsafe manner and encourage compliance with the rules of the road.
Today, however, license suspensions are handed down for a wide variety of offenses in Massachusetts. Even crimes unrelated to the operation of a vehicle can result in a license suspension. A wide range of charges—from traffic violations and operating under the influence (OUI) to vandalism and failure to pay taxes—can lead to the loss of your driving privileges.
For many, a license suspension can have devastating consequences. Costly fines, missed work, and the inability to run personal or family errands can make life difficult. If your driving privileges are on the line, you need an experienced and aggressive lawyer on your side. Dealing with the justice system can be stressful and confusing, and a knowledgeable advocate can make all the difference to keep you behind the wheel.
At Gilman Law, P.C., attorney Matthew Gilman uses his experience as a former Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) hearings officer to help those facing a license suspension successfully address their charges with the RMV and the courts. Regardless of what prompted your suspension, Matthew can help you understand your rights and help you obtain the best possible outcome.
Immediate Threat License Suspensions in Massachusetts
It can be easy to lose your license in Massachusetts. Even simple traffic stops can result in swift penalties. Law enforcement has the option to request that the RMV revoke your driving privileges for an indefinite period of time. This is known as an immediate threat suspension. Police officers can recommend this type of suspension if they feel your continued operation of a motor vehicle is a danger to public safety. This can happen after a serious offense, but it can also happen if you simply caught the police officer on a bad day.
The RMV typically follows the recommendation of the officer, and the suspension takes effect before the driver has an opportunity to tell his side of the story. Additionally, the suspension is open-ended. It could be weeks, months, or even years before your driving privileges are reinstated.
While these suspensions were meant to protect the public from serious and imminent dangers, attorney Matthew Gilman has seen an increasing amount of immediate threat suspension abuse. Even minor traffic violations are being met with attempts to immediately suspend driving privileges. If you or someone you love is facing this type of license suspension, take action right away to protect your rights and retain your license.
Other Common Ways to Lose Your Driving Privileges in Massachusetts
In addition to an immediate threat suspension, there are many other charges that can be punished with a license suspension. In some cases, repeated or serious violations will prompt the RMV to suspend your license. In other cases, a charge seemingly unrelated to traffic law may result in license suspension. Some of the most common ways to lose your driving privileges include:
- Surchargeable offenses.
- Habitual traffic offender.
- Chemical test (breathalyzer test) refusal.
- Operating under the influence (OUI).
- Out-of-state suspension.
- Failure to appear in court.
- Certain criminal charges.
- Immediate threat suspensions.
- Junior operator license suspensions.
Regardless of the reason, when the letter from the RMV arrives in your mailbox or the police serve you notice that your license has been suspended, you need help right away from an attorney who knows the system and can help you fight to retain your driving privileges.
Multiple Surchargeable Offenses in Massachusetts Lead to Extra Punishments
In Massachusetts, many license suspensions stem from what are known as surchargeable offenses. A surchargeable offense is any at-fault accident or traffic violation that would increase the driver’s insurance premium. These offenses can range from speeding to leaving the scene of an accident to OUI. It’s also important to note that one incident can result in multiple surchargeable offenses. For example, a driver who is pulled over by law enforcement on suspicion of drunk driving because he was speeding and veering outside his lane could be facing three separate surchargeable offenses stemming from just one incident.
Accumulating multiple offenses within certain time frames will lead to special consequences. These extra punishments include:
- Three surchargeable offenses in a two-year period: Mandatory driver re-training program. Failure to complete the program within 90 days will result in a license suspension.
- Seven surchargeable offenses in a three-year period; Mandatory 60-day license suspension, but the driver can apply for a hardship license.
- Twelve surchargeable offenses in a five-year period: The driver is identified as a habitual traffic offender. His license will be suspended for four years. He may apply for a hardship license after serving one year of the suspension.
What to Expect When You Are Facing a Massachusetts License Suspension
So, you’ve been charged with a crime or been hit with another surchargeable offense, and you’ve received that dreaded letter from the RMV. What now? Are they are going to suspend your license to drive?
It is possible to dispute your license suspension or to obtain a hardship license during the suspension period. A hardship license grants a driver permission to drive during specific hours. These are typically granted so individuals are able to continue to attend work or school, make medical appointments, or take care of children and family.
Stating Your Case for a Hardship License Before the Massachusetts RMV
Many Massachusetts drivers are unclear about their rights. Too often, they lose their driving privileges without fully exhausting all of their options within the law. Even if the RMV denies your hardship request, or is unable to hear it at all, it is possible to appeal the decision to the Division of Insurance. While this can be a complicated and confusing process, it is possible to be successful with the help of an experienced attorney.
At Gilman Law, P.C., attorney Matthew Gilman understands this system from the inside out. He takes advantage of his experience as a hearing officer to help his clients retain their driving privileges. He offers practical advice and a clear plan of action.
The RMV will have an attorney present at your hearing, and you should too. If you or someone you love is facing a license suspension, call Matthew today to schedule a free consultation. Matthew works with clients all over Massachusetts, frequently traveling to meet them at home.