Breathalyzer Refusal and License Suspension in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, if you were arrested for operating a motor vehicle on a public way under the influence (OUI/DUI/DWI) and refused to take the breathalyzer test, the RMV will suspend your license. The length of the suspension depends on a number of RMV-established factors, but the license suspension will be no less than 180 days. This suspension could be significantly longer if you have prior OUI/DUI/DWI convictions in the Commonwealth or any other jurisdiction.
If you are later found guilty on the underlying drunk driving charge, any additional suspension time will be added to the end of the breathalyzer test refusal suspension. If you are under 21 and either plead guilty or are found guilty of operating under the influence, your license suspension will be an additional 210 days beginning after the breathalyzer test refusal suspension ends.
Breathalyzer Test Refusal Suspension Periods
- No prior DUI/DWI/OUI conviction: 180 days
- One prior DUI/DWI/OUI convictions: 3 years
- Two prior DUI/DWI/OUI convictions: 5 years
- Three prior DUI/DWI/OUI convictions: lifetime license suspension
Under-21 Breath Test Refusal Suspension Periods
- No prior DUI/DWI/OUI conviction: 3 years, plus an additional 180 days
- Prior DUI/DWI/OUI convictions: adult suspension periods, plus an additional 180 days
Under-18 Breath Test Refusal Suspension Periods
- No prior DUI/DWI/OUI conviction: 3 years, plus an additional one year
- Prior DUI/DWI/OUI convictions: adult suspension periods, plus an additional one year
If you are between 18 and 21 years old and refuse the breathalyzer test, the RMV can waive the 180-day additional suspension by providing proof to a hearing officer that you enrolled in the Driver's Alcohol Education Program. If you are under 18 years old and refuse the breathalyzer test, the RMV can reduce the additional one-year suspension by 180 days with proof you have enrolled in the Driver's Alcohol Education Program.
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Appealing A Breathalyzer Test Refusal Suspension
Massachusetts has an implied consent law, under which all drivers operating a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth impliedly agree to submit to a breath or blood test if arrested for operating under the influence. Failure of either a breath or blood test will result in just a 30-day license suspension but the evidence gained by the police is generally admissible in any subsequent criminal proceeding. Evidence that you refused to take the breath or blood test is not admissible against you in any criminal proceeding, which explains why the license suspension penalties are significantly increased. If the RMV suspends your license due to a breath test refusal, you have the right to appeal the suspension. These appeals are very technical and you can benefit from having an experienced former RMV hearing officer sitting next to you to help with the following restrictions:
- Appeals of any license suspensions due to a breath test refusal must be started within 15 days from the date of the incident. The RMV is very strict about this requirement and will generally not grant any extensions.
- All appeals of breath test refusal license suspensions are conducted at the Driver Control Unit's Boston Office.
- Appeals are limited to challenging whether:
- The police had reasonable grounds for the OUI arrest.
- You were not placed under arrest.
- You did not truly refuse the breath test.
- If you are not successful appealing the license suspension at the RMV, you can appeal further to the District Court within 30 days of the RMV's decision.