First Offense DUI
Whenever the Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles is notified by a Massachusetts District Court that, as part of the disposition of a DUI charge, a person has been assigned to a Driver Alcohol Education Program, the Registry is required to suspend the DUI first offender’s license or right to operate for 45 to 90 days for first offense drunk driving cases resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D, the Massachusetts First Offender Alternative Disposition Program. Any other first offense DUI case will result in a 1 year suspension.
You may apply for a hearing in order to be considered for a hardship license from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Consideration for hardship licenses is limited to cases where the records of the Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV) indicate that a first offense disposition pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D was legally appropriate. At this hearing you must, at a minimum, provide proof that you have been enrolled in a Massachusetts First Offender’s Program which has been approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public (DPH) and have documentation regarding the hardship that requires you to seek a hardship license. You may appear for a hearing at one of the following Registry branches: Brockton, Worcester, Springfield, Lawrence, and 630 Washington St., Boston, MA, 4th Floor. Hardship licenses are not available if you have other suspensions or revocations affecting your license or right to operate, other than a chemical test refusal or failure attached to this first offense operating under the influence case.
Therefore, so long as your DUI arrest occurred in Massachusetts and your case was resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 Sec 24D, it should be relatively easy to get a hardship license by going to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and meeting with a Registry Hearings Officer. You will know if your case was resolved pursuant to 24D, because you will have only a 45 to 90 day loss of license for OUI. G.L. c. 90 § 24D further requires that you be placed on probation.
Legal representation is usually not required for straightforward DUI first offense hardship license hearings, where the driver's license is suspended for 45 to 90 days. However, you must have the proper paperwork which includes a letter from your employer, proof that public transportation would not be of assistance, and proof of enrollment in an approved DUI alcohol education program. Do not go to a DUI hardship license hearing without these items.
On a 1st offense DUI, if your hardship license is granted, you will have to pay a $500.00 fee to the Registry to reinstate from a 1st offense DUI conviction. At present, Massachusetts does not require use of the ignition interlock device for first offenders. However, there is legislation pending to change this.
You cannot immediately go to the Registry after your Massachusetts OUI case is resolved. You must enroll into the alcohol education program and wait for the court to update the Registry as to the outcome of your OUI case.
Repeat DU offenders who are treated in district court as first offenders when they have multiple DUI convictions on their records often mistakenly believe that the court's treatment of them as 1st offenders binds the Registry. They're wrong. Except in cases where a person has only one DUI offense or 2 DUI offenses separated by at least 10 years and the court grants them "2nd chance first offender" status, the Registry will treat those with 2 DUI convictions, as 2nd offenders, and those with 3 DUI convictions on their records as 3rd offenders, etc... There is a lifetime look-back period and out of state DUI or DWAI convictions count just like Massachusetts OUI convictions. Contact Attorney Brian E. Simoneau if you need clarification.