SUSPENSIONS & HARDSHIP LICENSES:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Who is eligible for a hardship
Hardship licenses are generally available for Habitual Traffic Offenders (HTO) and individuals who have had their licenses revoked for Operating Under the Influence of Liquor or drugs (OUI / DUI).
Will my license be suspended for refusing a
Breath / Blood Alcohol Test?
Yes. Under the Massachusetts "implied consent" law, by obtaining a driver’s license, automatically consent to a breath or blood test (also known as breathalyzer test). If you are arrested for DUI in Massachusetts and refuse to consent to such a test, your license will be suspended for 180 days for the 1st offense (over 21 years of age), 3 years of the 2nd offense, 5 years for the 3rd offense, 10 years for the 4th offense, and lifetime for the 5th offense. These harsh breath test refusal penalties were designed to encourage Massachusetts drivers to take the test and severely penalize those who refuse. If you are under 21, your Massachusetts license will be suspended for 3 years for a refusal on your 1st offense.
My license was
suspended for a chemical /
breath test refusal (CTR / BTR),
can I get a hardship license?
Maybe, depending on whether you can get enrolled in the 24D (first offender's) program. Absent a G.L. c. 90 § 24D disposition, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will not issue you a hardship license during the term of a breath test refusal suspension.
Important: Any person whose license, permit or right to operate has been suspended for a chemical / breath test refusal shall, within 15 days of suspension, be entitled to a hearing before the Registry. Our Massachusetts DUI Attorneys may be able to get the breath test
refusal suspension overturned at this hearing. If we are successful the Registrar will be required to reinstate your full license, permit or right to operate. These hearings often involve complex legal issues. Contact an RMV Appeal Attorney to discuss challenging your BTR/CTR suspension.
(Note: OUI 1st offense carries with it a 180 day license suspension if your refuse the breath test.)
What is the "look
back" period for prior OUI/DWI/DUI (Operating under the Influence / Drunk Driving) offenses?
Massachusetts how has a lifetime
look back period for OUIs. Also, when counting violations, out of state convictions for OUI/DWI/DUI count.
What will the
hardship license (also known as
a Cinderella or work license)
allow me to do?
hardship license will allow you to
lawfully operate a motor vehicle for
an identical 12 hour period each
day. The 12 hour period is
determined based on your needs.
happens if I am caught driving
outside of the 12 hour period during which my Massachusetts Hardship License allows me to legally drive?
If you are found driving a motor vehicle outside of the hours of your Massachusetts Hardship License, you may be arrested or issued a citation. However, even though your original Massachusetts Drivers License was suspended or revoked, the proper charge would not be "Operating After Suspension," G.L. c. 90, § 23. The arrest or citation would be for the less serious offense of "Unlicensed Operation," G.L. c. 90, § 10. This is critical, because a conviction of the crime of Operating After Suspension where your Massachusetts license was suspended for "drunk driving" (OUI, DUI, DWI), results in a minimum mandatory sentence 60 days imprisonment. See Comm. v. Murphy (Massachusetts Appeals Court).
Am I guaranteed to get a hardship license?
Absolutely not. The issuance of hardship licenses is largely discretionary. Both the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Board of Appeal have tremendous discretion in deciding whether to grant a hardship license. The Registry issues approximately 3,500 hardship licenses per year. Although there are no guarantees, having the right attorney prepare and present your case to the Registry or Board of Appeal could make the difference between getting a hardship license and getting denied. Our attorneys know what the Board of Appeal and the RMV look for when deciding whether to grant a hardship or Cinderella license.
limitations as to where I can
drive during the 12 hour period?
Limited or hardship licenses are
issued to individuals, who had their
licenses suspended or revoked, to
allow the license holder to get to
school, work, and/or medical
appointments. However, so long as
you restrict your operation to the
authorized 12 hour period, there is
absolutely no restriction on where
you can drive.
Is there a “waiting period”
before I can try to get a
hardship or “Cinderella”
Maybe. You may have to serve a
certain term of your license
suspension before you can apply. For example, if your license is suspended or revoked because you have been classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO), you must serve a minimum of one year under suspension or revocation before you can apply for a hardship license. Contact an RMV Appeal Attorney to
check on your eligibility.
How long does it take to get a hearing before the Board of Appeal?
It depends on the type of suspension with which you are appealing. The Board of Appeals generally hears appeals of shorter suspensions more expeditiously than appeals for longer license suspensions.
How do I apply
for a Hardship License?
complete an application and provide
certain paperwork to show that you
are eligible for a hardship license.
You will be required to attend a
hearing at a Mass. RMV office. You are
entitled to have an attorney
represent you at this important
What happens at
the RMV Hearing?
Registry Hearing Officer will review
your application and the documents
which you must provide. To maximize
your chances of success, RMV Appeal
attorneys will assist you in
preparing your application package
and confirm that you have all
required documentation. At the
hearing, you must demonstrate two
things: (1) that you have a
legitimate hardship and (2) that the
causes of your present and past
violations have been dealt with or
brought under control. RMV hearings
can be confusing and intimidating. A
RMV Appeal Attorney can help you
make your case and maximize your
chances of getting back on the road.
do I have to satisfy to get a
list of requirements is long and
complicated. Some requirements
depend on the type of suspension or
revocation. Here are some examples
of hardship criteria:
· no evidence of any operation
since the license revocation
have served the minimum suspension
time for hardship consideration
other active revocation periods have
· Documented entry or enrollment, on
program letterhead, verifying that
you are enrolled in a G.L. c. 90 § 24D Program. (1st offenders)
· Completion of completed the National
Safety Council Driver Retraining
Course (for HTO revocations)
of completion of the approved
alcohol treatment program
Summary from the treatment program,
stating the risk factor or
of compliance with all ordered
Summary or Progress Review from
after-care provider stating the risk
factor or recidivism rate
letter from probation, less than 30
days old stating, that you are in
compliance with probation
letter from your school or employer,
letterhead, less than 30 days old.
The letter must state your need for
a hardship license and your work or
proof of self-employment (if you are
regarding public transportation
As you can see, this list is quite extensive. The criteria you must satisfy depends on your case (OUI, 1st offense, Habitual Traffic Offender.) Legal assistance can be invaluable in assembling, presenting, and explaining the required proof to the Registry Hearing Officer who will decide your case.
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