Skip to content

Massachusetts Administrative Per Se License Suspensions: What You Need to Know

By The Law Office of Brett V. Beaubien

May 2, 2024

Massachusetts Administrative Per Se License Suspensions: What You Need to Know

In Massachusetts, drivers may face administrative per se license suspensions if they are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). This type of suspension is an immediate administrative action taken by the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). Unlike criminal proceedings, which can take time to process, administrative per se suspensions can occur swiftly following an arrest, based on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels or refusal to undergo chemical testing.

Understanding Administrative Per Se License Suspension in Massachusetts

The Basis of Administrative Per Se Laws

The Administrative Per Se laws in Massachusetts are designed to swiftly remove impaired drivers from the road. When a person is arrested for OUI, the RMV imposes an immediate license suspension if the individual’s BAC is 0.08% or higher, or if they refuse the chemical test. This suspension is separate from any criminal charges and is based solely on the BAC level or the refusal itself.

Role of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)

The Registry of Motor Vehicles is the entity responsible for enforcing Administrative Per Se Laws. It handles the suspension of the driver’s license immediately after an arrest for an OUI offense. The RMV also conducts Chemical Test Refusal (CTR) Hearings. These hearings provide a chance for individuals to appeal the suspension of their license, but they must be requested within 15 days of the license suspension notice.

Key Steps in the Administrative Suspension Process

Below are the critical steps involved in the process of administrative suspension in Massachusetts:

  1. Arrest for OUI: If a law enforcement officer suspects impairment, a driver is asked to perform a chemical test to measure BAC.
  2. Failure or Refusal: If the driver fails the test (BAC of 0.08% or above) or refuses to take it, the officer issues a notice of suspension.
  3. Immediate Suspension: The RMV enacts the suspension immediately upon notice following the officer’s report of refusal or a failed test.
  4. Right to Appeal: The driver has the right to the suspension. However, this must be filed promptly, usually within 15 days after the suspension notice.
  5. Suspension Hearing: At the CTR hearing, the driver can present a case to contest the suspension. The RMV examines the evidence and decides whether the suspension should be upheld.
Woman Standing By Her Car And Looking At Her Phone

Legal Proceedings and Hearings

When Massachusetts drivers face Administrative Per Se License Suspensions, they must understand the legal processes involved in challenging the suspension. These processes can take place within the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), at the district court level, or before the Board of Appeal.

Navigating RMV Suspension Hearings

If a Massachusetts driver’s license gets suspended under Administrative Per Se laws, they have the right to a hearing with the RMV. Hearings must be requested within 15 days of the suspension notice. During the RMV hearing, drivers may present evidence and argue their case to a hearings officer. Drivers should bring relevant documentation, such as a police report, and may be represented by an attorney.

  • Hearing Locations: Predominantly conducted in Boston, with some available at other RMV branches.
  • Evidence Submission: It’s critical to provide any evidence that disputes the police officer’s account or shows reasonable grounds.
  • Hearings Officer’s Role: The hearings officer reviews evidence, listens to testimony, and determines if the suspension should be upheld or overturned.

Challenging Suspensions in Court

Should a driver disagree with the RMV hearing’s outcome, they can petition the district court for further review. This option must be exercised promptly and typically within 30 days of the RMV’s decision. The district court will review the suspension’s legality and whether the RMV’s actions were appropriate.

  • Court Petition: Must be filed with the appropriate district court.
  • Court Disposition: A judge will consider the case and may order license reinstatement if the suspension is found unjustified.

Understanding the Board of Appeal

The Massachusetts Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds is another avenue for challenging license suspensions. It operates separately from the RMV and offers another layer of review for drivers who are still dissatisfied after the RMV hearing or district court decision.

  • Application Process: Requires completing an application and paying a filing fee.
  • Board Hearings: Similar to RMV hearings, individuals can present their case, with the added possibility of a more thorough review of the prior decisions.
  • Potential Outcomes: Can affirm, modify, or annul RMV decisions, providing another chance for driving privileges to be restored.
Angry Driver Screaming

Consequences and Reinstatement

Understanding the impact of license suspensions and the process for getting driving privileges restored are critical for Massachusetts drivers. Penalties are strict, and reinstatement often involves meeting specific requirements and paying applicable fees.

Immediate and Long-term Repercussions of Suspensions

A driver’s license suspension in Massachusetts carries significant immediate and long-term consequences. Immediate effects include:

  • Loss of driving privileges.
  • Possible detention if apprehended driving with a suspended license.

Long-term repercussions can affect a driver’s life for years and include:

  • Enhanced penalties for subsequent offenses.
  • Insurance rate increases due to surchargeable events on the driving record.

Drivers with suspensions due to DUI offenses face particularly severe consequences, including mandatory blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests, motor vehicle violations added to their driving record, and attendance in alcohol education programs. Multiple convictions may lead to the revocation of one’s license.

Pathway to License Reinstatement

To regain driving privileges after a suspension, drivers should consult a Massachusetts license suspension attorney and follow a clear set of reinstatement requirements:

  1. Completion of suspension period: Drivers have to wait out their suspension time.
  2. Payment of reinstatement fee: Drivers are required to pay a fee to the Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV).
  3. Resolution of the offense: Drivers must resolve any underlying issues that led to the suspension, which may include paying fines or serving a sentence.
  4. Documentation: Submission of any necessary documents as proof of fulfilling all legal and RMV requirements.
  5. Examination: In some cases, drivers need to pass a written, vision, or road test again.

Drivers seeking a hardship license must provide evidence of hardship and demonstrate that they meet strict criteria, including limited driving hours and purposes. Obtaining a hardship license prior to full reinstatement may be an option for some drivers, depending on their offense and driving history.

Categories: Massachusetts Laws

Previous Article Next Article