Individuals who have lost their licenses after a DUI arrest may be entitled to hardship licenses. Dean Contover and Board Certified DUI defense attorney Mike Bowser discuss hardship licenses and the Board of Appeal in this video.
What Are Hardship Licenses?
Dean: Now if somebody loses their license, do you fight for a hardship license and what is a hardship license?
Mike: If there is a loss of license imposed in Massachusetts, whether it’s for an OUI offense or a subsequent first, second, or third offense, you are entitled to it. Some point request a hardship license, and a hardship license is essentially a 12-hour license. During those 12 hours you can drive for, you have to state your hardship to the Registry of Motor Vehicles or more likely the Board of Appeal, and they will grant — really from certain instances — give you a 12-hour license. If it’s a drunk driving case, they’re going to often times anything more than a second, a first offense would require the ignition interlock device that they call the ‘blow and go.’
Dean: The Melanie Law, is that part of it?
Mike: It was not part of Melanie’s Law originally, but now, it’s anyone who has more than one OUI offense and if they reinstated subject to a hardship, they must have an ignition interlock device, which requires that they submit a breath sample to a machine that’s hooked to their ignition. If you’re above a .02, the car won’t start. And if you’re above a .02, it’d be reported to the Registry.
Dean: I think it should be in all cars.
Mike: It won’t. Either there’ll be self driving cars or there’ll be an ignition interlock on all cars sooner or later.
Dean: Yes, that’s a good point.
Mike: In New Hampshire, just in the New Hampshire for the very first time January 1st of 2016, they passed a limited license law. Now the state of New Hampshire on a first offense DWI will allow a driver to apply for a limited license and theirs is much stricter, it can only be from home to work, home to the medical appointment, home to drug or alcohol treatment, or school, whereas in Massachusetts within those 12 hours you can drive wherever you want. Within the 12 hours.
Dean: It’s flexible.
Mike: New Hampshire, you have to have the court order in your car and you can only be going from point A to point B within ignition interlock. For the first time they’ve passed that law in New Hampshire. And they realized that . . ..
Dean: And when does that go in effect?
Mike: You can apply as long as you’ve served 45 days of the suspension, you can apply for a license. For instance, a DWI first in New Hampshire, that minimum mandatory loss of license is a period of at least 90 days. So they’re making them serve half of it, but I think there was a realization in New Hampshire, especially. They have very long suspension periods, much of the state is rural, in the sense that there’s not a lot of public transportation, and if you’re without a license in the state of New Hampshire, you very well are going to lose your job, and you could lose your home, and I think they realized that they have to give an opportunity to people to at least work. And then other reasons.
Dean: That makes sense.
Mike: It does. We’re learning it as we go. I’ve had a handful of situations where we’d made the application and the judge has granted it.
Dean: Okay. You talked about the appeal, are we talking about the Board of Appeal, motor vehicles liability, policy and bonds, provisional insurance?
Mike: Yes. I referred to them as the Board of Appeal. The Board of Appeal has a panel of three . . ..
Dean: But that’s not the Registry.
Mike: No, they sit and review of registry suspension, so there’s two levels of hearings that you can go to for purposes of your hardship license in Massachusetts. You can initially go into the Hearings Division of the Registry, meet with a Registry of Motor Vehicles Hearings officers, and that hearings officer may or may not grant you hardship relief. And they have policies and rules and procedures as to who they can help and who they can’t, and if they can’t help you, they’ll quite politely tell you, “We can’t help you, but you can go see the Board,” meaning the Board of Appeal.
The Board of Appeal has a three member panel, one is appointed by the Governor, one is appointed by the Attorney General’s office, and I think one might even be a designee of the Register of Motor Vehicles. But those three members hear cases for hardship relief, and they can modify, reverse, or uphold the Registry’s decision. So it’s a second level of appeal, and often times with DWI or OUI, second, third, fourth offenders that are looking for hardship relief, you do end up in front of the Board of Appeal.
Dean: I see. And you go relatively often to the Board of Appeal?
Mike: Yes, quite a bit.
Mike: And then they sit . . ..
Dean: Because it’s a different entity, because what I read was under the Division of Insurance, rather than RNV.
Mike: Yes, they sit in Boston and they sit in Marlborough district court of all places on Friday morning, so my hearings through the Board are typically in Boston or in Marlborough.