Learn about the recent changes to drivers’ license revocations in relation to drug possession laws and how you may be able to get your license reinstated.
Teddy Panos: We need to bring in our first guest of the morning. He is a member of our expert network, Attorney Michael Bowser. Good morning counselor. How are you, sir?
Mike Bowser: Good morning. Sorry to interrupt the debate.
Teddy: Do women lawyers make equal pays as their male counterparts?
Mike: I think they certainly do.
Teddy: Yes, they do because they do the equal work, right?
Teddy: Whether you’re a woman or a man in the courtroom doesn’t really make a difference in your ability to do the job.
Mike: I have two women lawyers that work for me and they are paid the same as any man would be paid that would work for me.
Teddy: They don’t have a woman’s court and a man’s court where one makes more revenue than the other.
Mike: No, one playing the field for all.
Teddy: Just double-checking. All right, how are you doing?
Mike: I’m doing fine.
Teddy: You care to chime in, would you like to take the case of Han Solo or Hope Solo or whatever her name is?
Mike: No, the debate, and I’ve heard the same debate is why are women paid less than men in athletics? They would say that most men have no interest in women’s athletics unless their daughter, sister, wife is engaged in that particular sport. I think, There’s a little bit of truth to that. Most men are more interested in watching a men sport than a woman sport unless they have a loved one involved in the particular event.
Leslie Bodor: Like I said, if I had daughters, I would have brought them to those games.
Teddy: Yes, you definitely go to the women sports where you don’t have to pay anything to get in. Those are a big draw. I’m trying to drag you in, you’re smart man counselor.
Mike: I’m a former coach and I coached girls through hockey for a number of years and I’m a big fan of all women’s athletics.
Leslie: Told you, I like this guy.
Teddy: Did you ever have one of your girls’ teams play boys’ teams just for fun?
Mike: I had my girls playing with boys for a couple years and then we had an all girls team, they held their own day in and day out and then we split it into a girls-only team at a U14.
Leslie: Because they didn’t want to embarrass the boys anymore?
Mike: We also played some boys teams at that time.
Teddy: How did you do?
Mike: We did very well. Hockey as an example is just a wonderful sport for women.
Leslie: Yes, absolutely.
Teddy: It’s one of the fastest-growing women’s sports.
Mike: Amongst adult women as well.
Leslie: Well yes, that’s very true too.
Elimination of Automatic License Revocations for Drug Possession Convictions
Teddy: Let’s talk a little bit about some big news this week about getting your license back or the automatic suspension of a driver’s license for a drug conviction. That looks like it [was] yesterday.
Mike: Signed into law yesterday, there will be a line out the registering doors involve Boston Lawrence, Lomington, well no, not Wall because they don’t have a hearings division.
Teddy: Because the line’s already long enough than what governor Baker did.
Mike: He signed into law under chapter 94c of the Mass General Laws, he eliminated automatic license revocations for drug possession convictions all except for trafficking offenses.
Leslie: This is conviction.
Teddy: So, this is retroactive.
Mike: Applies to everyone.
Teddy: If last year got arrested for smoking a doobie in my Benzy.
Mike: For instance, yes.
Leslie: And were convicted for it?
Mike: More important, there are people that had, for instance, possession with intent to distribute which is different than trafficking. but if you had possession with intent to distribute, you could be looking at a five-year suspension. Four-and-a-half years ago, three years ago, two years ago someone with that suspension can now literally walk into the registry, meet with the hearings officer and they are going to reinstate that driver’s license. The purpose behind it is because they’ve realized that essentially — and this is true with drunk driving suspensions as well, you can incarcerate a person, you can punish them [and] that is certainly punitive, but then you take them off the road for years and they are essentially unemployable.
Leslie: That’s very true.
Teddy: Let me ask you a question, they’ll all get their licenses back, you don’t have to prove anything do you?
Mike: The reason they make everyone, even coming off of any suspension, you’re required to meet with the hearings officer because the hearings officer who works the Registry of Motor Vehicles has access to two things which the average person at the counter at the registry does not. They have access to the National Driver Registry which determines whether you have suspensions pending in any other jurisdiction. Have you been in trouble somewhere else that hasn’t been cleaned up yet and more importantly what is your quarry reflect, your border probation right? They have access to your quarry records so that hearings officer needs to make sure that you’re clear in the National Driver Registry, they have need to make sure that you don’t have any other pending, open or defaulted criminal cases. Then once you’re through with those two steps with the hearings officer, they’re going to be able to put people back on the road. I literally believe that there is going to be lines at all of the registry branches for literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds [of] people.
Getting a License Reinstated
Leslie: Now, sometimes a license is suspended halfway through the issuance of the license, when they come back, are they getting a five-year license right off the bat, a year license, a temporary license, what are they getting?
Mike: I think that they’re going to have to retest, because if the revocation is for in effect for more than one year, typically the registry policy is they make them retest, including a road test. They’re also going to be inundated with a lot of road tests [for] a lot applicants, but these people at a minimum are going to be given a permit and they’re going to be able to schedule a road-test.
Teddy: But it’s not an automatic that you get. If you’ve misbehaved in the process, this is not the free pass. You have to have been on your best behavior, no subsequent issues or whatnot.
Mike: Right. What happens and this is true of what happens with most people, they get suspended for whatever reason and then if they continue to drive, they have no other way to get to work and they get arrested and charged with op after suspension. They eventually find themselves in a position where they’re classified is habitual traffic offenders. If a person has done that subsequent to the revocation for the drug possession, they’re still going to be revoked as a habitual offender.
Teddy: What happens if you re-offend, let’s say I’m a one-time offender, I’m forgiven but lo and behold I get my license back in six months from now, is my record wiped clean or is this now a second offense, a third offense, and the subsequent penalties follow a second or third offense?
Mike: Well, if you were to be charged today with a possession offense, it’s not going to trigger a loss of license if convicted even if it’s a subsequent drug possession offense.
Drug Trafficking Offenses
Teddy: Drug possession period is now is not tied into license at all?
Mike: Unless it involves driving. If it’s not related, you will not suffer as a consequence of a drug possession conviction a loss of license except for trafficking in Fentanyl.
Teddy: What’s the difference with trafficking?
Leslie: Trafficking period and Fentanyl.
Mike: Trafficking is a felony.
Teddy: Okay. What’s the difference between trafficking and possession with intent to distribute?
Mike: Weight, 14 grams for instance. I believe it’s 14 grams of cocaine or heroin, it’s a weight issue for every particular class of a controlled substance. If you are above a particular weight, then it is considered trafficking.
Teddy: The lesson to the drug dealers is don’t put more than 14 grams of drugs in your Benzy at any given point in time. 13.14 ounces is the way to go?
Mike: I’m sure there are some people that operate in just that manner for that reason.
Leslie: They only put in one big bag, not individuals.
Teddy: I said it to be funny, but trust me the criminals know the law better than most law-abiding citizens.
Mike: They certainly would.
Teddy: They would be very smart. What if I get arrested for trafficking in my home? They come into my home they bust my home and they found two tons of marijuana or heroin, it doesn’t have any effect on my driving.
Mike: I believe they left the trafficking offense alone. That triggered a loss of license before the change in law.
Teddy: Whether you are in your car or not?
Mike: And still will.
Teddy: All right so because the thinking there is we don’t want drug dealers to be able to use their car, we want to make it more difficult for them to transport their goods.
Mike: They’re just drawing a line in the sand — trafficking as a felony, it’s not a case that was ever resolved in the district court, it’s always an indictable offense that goes to the Superior Court. The drawing a line at most of these routine drug possession cases that are in the district court, they’re going to treat differently than the major felony trafficking cases.
Contacting an Attorney for License Reinstatement
Teddy: When can I go and get my license back if I’ve fallen under this thing?
Teddy: It starts today?
Mike: If they signed it into law I believe, if it wasn’t Wednesday it was yesterday.
Teddy: What if I go and I get denied, is it over or would that be a good time for me to call attorney Mike Bowser?
Mike: It might be a Board of Appeal issue and you may have the ability to take the registry’s decision and appeal that to the Board of Appeal, which is often a route that you go when there’s a denial of a reinstatement or a hardship.
Teddy: Should I do that on my own or would it be wise for me to have an attorney [for] the entire process?
Mike: Most of the folks that I deal with, if they’re going in to see a hearings officer with the intent of being reinstated, I’m going to send them on their own, because they’re either going to do it or not. It’s rare for hearings officer to deny it for a legal issue that a lawyer would help, but at the Board of Appeal, I would suggest that you have an attorney.
Changes to the Interlock Hardship Law
Teddy: All right. Couple of other changes, a change in the interlock hardship law.
Mike: Yes. There’s also a proposed Senate bill that is in the pipeline and the legislature and maybe you could speak to some of your guests here that are part of that house. They’re looking at giving multiple subsequent offenders, second offenders, third offenders, fourth offenders the ability to obtain an interlock license, what they’re referring to as an interlock license which is a full 24/7 drivers license with an ignition interlock device and they can get it much, much earlier than they could in years past.
Now, [in the instance] of a third offender felony [there] is an eight-year loss of license, the registry would make you wait four years, the board of Appeal might consider you after two years, [with the] proposed bill, which I guess is supported by MADD, which is significant Mothers Against Drunk Driving Once your period of incarceration is over or you’re on a second offense [and] you’ve finished the inpatient program at the House of Correction sentence, you would have the ability to apply for and receive through the registry, not the Board of Appeal but the registry, an immediate interlock license, meaning you’re back on the road driving. Part of it is the technology now is caught up.
Mike: They’re using facial recognition. So when you use what I refer to as the blow and go, the interlock ignition, it actually has a screen and a facial recognition component. So when you’re blowing into the device, it’s looking at you, and it knows it’s you.
Leslie: Because you could blow into . . ..
Mike: Right. The older versions you could certainly hand the tube off to a passenger. I have seen people that have tampered with these devices and come up with various ways to pump air through a particular device. I think now the technology is such that I think they’re feeling safer about giving people that opportunity again. You take someone off the road for eight years, ten years, or a lifetime, [and] they’re unemployable.
Ted: You’re hoping lesson was learned and we’re not going to re-offend.
Mike: Again, the punitive component is six months in the House of Corrections, sixty days in the House of Corrections. Right now, I think they’re giving people their opportunity to at least work.
Leslie: Think about that too. I mean you can commit murder, do 20 years, come out and have no license ramification whatsoever.
Driving in New Hampshire & Other States
Ted: How does this affect my ability to drive in New Hampshire? Everyone who’s going to go get their license back today. New Hampshire may not have passed the same law that we have. Am I able to drive with my Massachusetts license in New Hampshire?
Mike: You are. The only entity that can revoke your New Hampshire license is the state of New Hampshire. And the reverse is true. In Massachusetts its a Mass resident. Only the Commonwealth through the registry or court can revoke a license. If Massachusetts sees fit to give someone an interlock ignition license that allows them to drive. Then they can certainly take that and drive anywhere else in the country.
Ted: What if I had my license revoked in both states?
Mike: You need to clean up the mess in both states. Massachusetts again, this is where you see a hearings officer. If you have a mess in New Hampshire that you haven’t cleaned up, that needs to be squared away before Massachusetts will even consider you.
Ted: All right. So I would still need to convince the folks in New Hampshire to forgive my transgression. They’re not in on this though, they’re still keeping their laws as is?
Mike: They had a change in January in New Hampshire for the first time. As of January first, it’s allowing for limited employment licenses, limited licenses for purpose of education, drug counseling or medical appointments. And if you’ve served half of your suspension time on a first pony, on a first offense. Not a second, third or fourth. Only on a first, you can obtain a driver’s license on a limited basis subject to the interlock on a first offense.
That’s new law, and I believe that’s a work in progress. We’re struggling, figuring out as we go how well this is going to work, but is the law in New Hampshire now that a first offender can get a hardship license.
Leslie: I have a question. If once a license has been reinstated, it’d be the same exact rules for everyone else? You come out, you get your license issued to you for five years. No problems at all. Someone’s asking that when you get your new license, if you go today after the hearings in the court, the National Driver’s License if you’re okay, and then court you’re okay, you get your five year license I would assume.
Mike: Under the drug law or under any other law? Because if so for instance, in drunk driving cases, if you have a suspension for two years, or eight years, or 10 years. If you’re granted relief today as the law exists through the Board of Appeal, they’re going to give you a 12-hour license. The 12-hour restriction applies for the balance of that particular suspension. Whether you have six years left, or one year left, or eight years left with an interlock. And then once the period of suspension is over you can drive 24/7, but you have to maintain the interlock for an additional two years. So it’s the suspension for 12 hours, whatever’s left of it with an interlock, plus the interlock for two years on and after that.
Ted: Lastly, you had a big week in court. What did you go? Three for three with verdict?
Mike: We had just an incredible stretch which is I think it’s typical of my practice. I was in Springfield, which I don’t go to Springfield all that often. But I was out in Springfield on an OUI third, and these shows you the impact of Melanie’s Law. In Springfield for an OUI third offense felony level offense not guilty verdict where we prevailed on a motion to suppress. Where the court, it was up in Newburyport granted a motion to suppress, and let us know through the mail that the arrest the stop the seizure of the client was deemed illegal, which will result in a dismissal of that charge.
That is typical of my practice. Everywhere from Springfield up to Newburyport, and everywhere in between with lot of New Hampshire stuff going on. A very weird, a very good week.
Ted: You don’t always get weeks like that, right?
Mike: Absolutely not. No, it was a great stretch of trials and good juries. I don’t know. I had a good week, absolutely.
Ted: As we always like to tell them, counselor, we hope that folks never need your services, but we know that someday, somebody will. How do they get in touch with you?
Mike: The website is https://www.bowserlaw.com/. Offices in Nashua and in Chelmsford and it’s 1-888-5BOWSER.
Ted: All right Bob. A member of our expert network, Attorney Michael Bowser. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us this morning.
Mike: Thank you.