Getting your license back takes time, preparation, and a great deal of paperwork, but it's possible with an experienced DUI defense attorney guiding you.
Getting your first DUI can be a trying process. For many people, it’s their first contact with the criminal justice system. If you were arrested for DUI, you may feel intimidated by the impending legal procedures and worried about how a DUI is going to affect your life.
Understandably, you are probably concerned about your driver’s license.
Under Massachusetts law, first-time DUI offenders face the following potential license suspensions:
- 180-Day Breath Test Refusal Suspension
- 30-Day Breath Test Failure Suspension
- 1-Year Statutory Suspension (usually reduced to 45-90-Days under the Alternative Disposition)
However, certain factors, including the choices you make during and after your arrest, can affect some of these penalties.
If you refused the Breath Test and incurred a 180-Day suspension, you have a right to appeal that suspension within 15 days of your arrest.
Short of winning the criminal case during the 180-Day suspension (which, given the backlog of cases in court, is highly improbable), this appeal process is the only way for you to get back on the road during that 180-Day period because the Registry of Motor Vehicles does not issue hardship licenses for Breath Test Refusal suspensions. It is, therefore, imperative that you appear at the RMV within that 15-Day period of time.
If you took and failed the Breath Test, your license is suspended for 30 days. As is the case for Breath Test Refusal suspensions, the RMV does not issue hardship licenses for Breath Test Failure suspensions.
This means that you will have to endure the 30-day suspension in its entirety unless you receive the Alternative Disposition within that period of time and are thereby eligible to apply for a hardship license. If you do not receive the Alternative Disposition during the 30-day Failure Suspension, once the 30-days is up, you can appear at the RMV, pay a reinstatement fee, and get your license back. It is important to note that this license would be a full license, not a hardship license. If you are fighting your criminal case, this means you will have your license back after the initial 30-days.
Reinstatement fees at the RMV are generally $500 or $1000, depending on the circumstances of your case.
If you have been charged with DUI, consult with an experienced Massachusetts DUI attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can protect your rights in court, help you apply for a hardship license, and walk you through the process of getting your license back.
The Length of License Suspensions
If convicted of your first DUI, your license will most likely be suspended 45-90 Days and in some instances, 1-year.
Unless you receive the Alternative Disposition, your license will be suspended for 1 year and you will not be eligible for hardship license consideration until 3-months has passed. The Alternative Disposition, however, allows for a 45-90 day suspension and immediate hardship consideration upon entry into the alcohol education program.
If you refuse a breathalyzer test and have no prior offenses, your license will be suspended automatically for 180 days.
Even if you are found “Not Guilty” on your DUI charge during your refusal suspension, the suspension will remain in place unless and until the judge orders the return of your license.
License suspensions are cumulative.
That means any court-imposed suspension is added to the time remaining on your Breath Test Refusal suspension. If you refused the Breath Test and received the Alternative Disposition within the 180-days, your total suspension period will be between 225 days and 270 days.
You could face additional periods of license suspension for other violations relating to your arrest. These could include criminal traffic violations, accidents for which you are responsible, and other criminal charges.
Getting Your License Back
Getting your license back can be a long and arduous process, but you can do it if you take it step by step:
Step 1: Contact a Massachusetts DUI attorney.
The reinstatement process is complicated and time-consuming. If you are facing multiple license suspensions, an attorney will help you navigate the process.
Step 2: Apply for a hardship license.
To get a hardship license, you will need to submit specific documentation and prove that losing your license could threaten your ability to work, go to school, or go to medical appointments. It’s important to take this step with a lawyer. Hardship licenses are granted at the discretion of the RMV and are not guaranteed.
Step 3: Serve out your license suspension.
If you are unable to appeal your suspension, you must wait until the suspension periods end before you can apply for reinstatement. During this time, you must not drive a motor vehicle under any circumstances. If you are pulled over by police while driving a vehicle with a suspended license, you will subject yourself to additional criminal charges and license suspensions.
Step 4: Apply for a license reinstatement.
Once your suspension period has ended, you can apply for reinstatement through the RMV. An attorney can walk you through every step of the reinstatement process, help you fill out the necessary paperwork, and even accompany you to hearings. It is important to note that you have to go to a full service registry with a hearings officer in order to reinstate.
If you receive a favorable verdict at trial, you will not automatically receive your license back. Your attorney will need to file a motion with the court arguing for reinstatement. Your attorney will then need to file paperwork with the RMV.
If you are denied reinstatement, you may appeal the decision to the “Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds,” typically referred to as the Board of Appeals. The Board of Appeals has the authority to affirm, modify, or reverse license suspensions imposed by the RMV.
It’s understandable if you are nervous about your situation. Getting your license back after your first DUI takes time, preparation, and a great deal of paperwork. However, it’s possible with the right attorney guiding you and representing you.