According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, there were over 8,665 arrests for DUI in Massachusetts in 2017, and 29 of these arrests were drivers under the age of 18. While this pales in comparison to the 990,678 arrests for DUI that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) estimates occurred nationwide in 2017, it does demonstrate why the Massachusetts state government estimates that 150 people die every year in drunk driving accidents across the state. Moreover, if 8,665 were arrested in Massachusetts for DUI in 2017, this means that there were or will be at 8,665 DMV hearings that occur in connection with the arrests made in our state that year, assuming every person charged was convicted and none of them had their license suspended for life.
We can make this assumption because unless you are acquitted of the DUI charge or the charge was dismissed, you will more than likely have to have a DMV hearing at some point if you are convicted of OUI in the state of Massachusetts. To fully understand how OUI hearings work, you need to understand the license suspension process in our state from start to finish and the specific laws that apply to license suspensions. Since the function of the Registry of Motor Vehicle is to enforce these laws, an understanding of what these rules mean and how they are enforced will allow you to determine what you can do to properly prepare for your RMV hearing.
OUI License Suspensions in Massachusetts
When you are charged with OUI in Massachusetts, the arresting officer is required to confiscate your license pursuant to M.G.L. ch.90 §24. The only way you can immediately move to have your license reinstated is if the OUI charge is terminated in your favor, but even in this scenario, the RMV has discretion as to whether or not your license should be reinstated. With that being said, there would be no reason for the RMV to deny your request for reinstatement in most instances where your OUI charge has been dropped or dismissed, but the important thing to remember is, nothing is guaranteed when you are requesting to have your license reinstated at an RMV hearing.
OUI Hardship Licenses
As you may know, the amount of time your license will be suspended for an OUI is impacted by the number of previous OUI convictions you have on your criminal record. The period of time your license will be suspended based on the number of past OUI convictions on your criminal record is as follows:
- First DUI Conviction: One year
- Second DUI Conviction: Two years
- Third DUI Conviction: Eight years
- Fourth DUI Conviction: Ten years
- Fifth DUI Conviction or More: Lifetime revocation
Similarly, the waiting period to obtain a hardship license will vary based on the number of previous OUI convictions on your criminal record and the type of hardship license you are seeking approval for. The mandatory waiting period for a hearing for a general or “Cinderella” hardship license, which is a license that allows you to drive for a predetermined 12-hour period each day, is as follows:
- First DUI Conviction: Six months
- Second DUI Conviction: Eighteen months
- Third DUI Conviction: Four years
- Fourth DUI Conviction: Eight years
Types of RMV Hearings
The type of RMV hearing you have to attend will largely depend on what type of license you are trying to obtain or the nature of your OUI conviction. For example, if you first request a hardship license and once the suspension period has lapsed, you request to have your normal license reinstated, you will have to attend two separate RMV hearings. The first hearing is to determine whether or not you qualify for a hardship license. Since this type of license is primarily granted for work and education purposes, you will have to provide the RMV with documentation to demonstrate why you need the hardship license such as proof of employment, proof of your schedule at work, or your class schedule if you are in school. Moreover, the RMV could request information regarding the availability of public transportation such as bus or train schedules, because you could be denied a hardship license if there is a form of public transportation you could use to get to your desired location as opposed to driving.
The hearing officer that ultimately decides whether or not your license will be reinstated will consider all of this information in its entirety, which is why hiring an OUI attorney to represent you at an RMV hearing is so important. The second hearing you would have to attend in this scenario is a license reinstatement hearing. At this point, the suspension period imposed on you as a result of the DUI conviction should be expired, but in certain situations, the RMV can require you to take certain classes and courses prior to reinstating your license such as:
- The road test exam
- The written learners permit exam
- Drug or alcohol counseling and/or education program
Other common types of RMV hearings include:
- Breathalyzer or blood test refusal hearing.
- Ignition interlock device hearings
- Ignition interlock device removal hearings.
- Out-of-state OUI hearings
The type of evidence you will need to be successful at each of these hearings will vary, which is why you should always hire an experienced OUI attorney to represent you at a DMV hearing.
Massachusetts DMV Hearing Attorney
At Coughlin Law Group, our criminal defense attorney understands how stressful attending a DMV hearing can be, but luckily, our attorney has the legal experience and skills needed to ensure that your DMV hearing has a positive outcome. Don’t go to your DMV hearing alone. Call the Massachusetts OUI attorney at Coughlin Law Group today for a free confidential consultation.