On 5/17/12, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously against the Registry or Motor Vehicles in how it can apply some administrative license suspensions. The case clarified that the Registry cannot treat a CWOF as a prior conviction and impose administrative suspensions for a breath test refusal on OUI if the individual had received a CWOF on their prior offense.
You may be eligible for a license suspension period reduction if:
- You Refused the Breath test on a 2nd offense OUI charge
- You received a CWOF on your first offense, (or 2nd offense as part of a 24D Disposition)
- The Registry suspended your license for 3 years or more as a result of refusing the breath test
You are NOT eligible for any license reduction if:
- You were only charged with a first offense OUI
- You Failed the Breath test
- You received a Guilty on your first offense
This ruling has no effect on Ignition Interlock Device use, because the 2 year IID requirement begins after your license is reinstated after the suspension period is completed.
It also has no effect on hardship licenses, since they are also only allowed after the suspension is removed.
How Can I Get My License Suspension Reduction?
The process involves going to a Registry hearing and presenting the hearings officer with the appropriate paperwork and evidence to support that you are one of the affected individuals from this ruling.
We are going to the Registry hearings regularly with our clients to get this done, so please call us if you feel you meet the criteria.
We have already helped a number of clients get their suspension reduced or lifted, and will be doing so as long as this ruling is in effect.
Unfortunately, it is very likely at this point that that the Massachusetts Legislature will explicitly change the law in light of this decision, and allow the registry to treat CWOFs as priors, so there may only be a temporary window to get your license back if you are eligible.
The window for suspension reductions is likely to close around 7/1 if the changes pass as part of the Massachusetts state Budget.
Russell Matson is a drunk driving defense and criminal attorney who concentrates his practice in OUI (Operating Under the Influence) defense. He is a recognized authority on Massachusetts drunk driving law and related license loss issues and Registry of Motor Vehicles hearings. His web site is http://madrunkdrivingdefense.com.
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