Getting a Cinderella license

A Cinderella license is also referred to as a hardship license or work license. All of these terms mean the same thing – a license issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles directly or after an order from the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal which allows a person to legally drive during the term of a license suspension or revocation. These licenses are only granted when the applicant can show a legitimate need to drive for an important reason and that restoring his or her motor vehicle operating privileges will not endanger the safety of the motoring public. There is absolutely no automatic right to a Cinderella license, regardless of how much suspension time a person has served or the need to drive. Whether or not to grant a Cinderella license in Massachusetts is purely discretionary.

MassDOT will only issue hardship licenses for the following suspensions: DUI and Habitual Traffic Offender revocations. All other Cinderella license appeals must be filed with the Board of Appeal. Third and forth offense drunk driving Cinderella license appeals are referred to the Appeals Board.

Those who have had their license suspended for non-payment of child support or taxes are ineligible for  Cinderella licenses as are those who have out of state license suspensions. You cannot circumvent an active out of state or National Driver Register (NDR) indefinite revocation by getting a Massachusetts Cinderella license – your appeal will be denied.

It is impossible to obtain a Cinderella licenses without personally attending a hearing either at the Driver Control Unit of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles or before a 3 member panel of the Board of Appeal, which is a quasi-judicial Board. This 3 member Board has the power under state law to grant a limited 12 hour license or a fulltime license, even if the Appellant is serving a mandatory revocation and the Registry has denied relief.

Whether the case is heard at the Registry or the Appellate Board, having the proper documentation and making a compelling presentation of the case is absolutely critical. An attorney who specializes in Cinderella licenses cases can help. This is especially important in cases which go before the Board of Appeal.

Mass. Hardship Licenses for 3rd & 4th OUI Offenders

If you have an 8 year OUI 3rd offense license revocation or a 10 year OUI 4th offense revocation, you are likely not going to get a hardship license from the Mass. RMV and you will end up at the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance. This is because the Registry will not grant you any type of hardship or work license if you are a 3rd or 4th offender who has not completed an approved ninety (90) day in-patient residential alcohol treatment program and all recommended aftercare. The Registry makes no exceptions to these requirements. Also, Registry Hearings Officers cannot grant hardship licenses to 4th offenders without approval of the Director of the Driver Control Unit. There are no hardship licenses available for 5th offenders, who have lifetime license revocations.

When you do not meet the Registry’s hardship license requirements, you can seek hardship authorization from the Board of Appeal. However, there is certainly no guarantee that you will receive a hardship license and one of the best ways that you can improve the odds of getting a hardship license is to hire a lawyer who specializes in Board of Appeal cases.

As a third or fourth offender, you must produce substantial evidence to show that any alcohol issues are under control and you are unlikely to reoffend. Some factors that the Board of Appeal will consider include your criminal record, driving record, evidence of operation, prior blood alcohol levels, alcohol treatment, sobriety, attitude, AA and self-help attendance, and counseling history. Only when these issues are addressed will the Board consider hardship, need to drive, and work obligations.

If you have an 8 year or 10 year license revocation and you are interested in obtaining a hardship license, I urge you to contact me for a free review of your situation. After speaking with me, you will know where you stand and you will have an idea of your chances of obtaining a hardship license. If it is unlikely that the Board will grant you a license, I will advise you as to what steps you need to take and how long you may have to wait before applying. If you apply too soon or you are unprepared for your hearing, the Board may affirm the revocation and you may lose your right to be re-considered for a hardship license. If this happens you will have to serve the balance of your revocation.

All repeat offenders will have to use an ignition interlock device while you are on any hardship license and for 2 years after your hardship hours are removed. The IID requirement applies whether your are granted a hardship license or not. There are no exceptions to the IID requirement.

You Probably Don’t Need A Lawyer for a 1st Offense Hardship License Appeal

If your license has been suspended due to first offense OUI in Massachusetts, you can be considered for a hardship license, so that you can legally drive for 12 hours each day. So long as you have a documented need to drive for work, medical, or educational purposes, and your 1st offense OUI case was resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D, the Registry will consider you for a hardship license. You probably do not need to waste money on a lawyer. As long as you have proof of enrollment in the 1st offender alcohol program and your received a 1st offender disposition from the court, you probably don’t need a lawyer to handle your hardship license hearing. The vast majority of hardship license applicants receive work licenses without the need for an attorney.

It can be difficult to get a hardship license when it comes to a second, third, or fourth offense OUI and in those cases, it probably makes sense to hire a lawyer to represent you. In first offense cases, however, getting a hardship license is relatively easy. As long as you do not have anything out of the ordinary such as an immediate threat suspension, there is probably no need to hire a lawyer to represent you.

I get a large number of calls from concerned first offenders who are understandably desperate to get back on the road as soon as possible. I advise them of the hardship licensing requirements and instruct them to call me back if the Registry denies them a license. Since I don’t hear back from these people, it seems that they are being granted hardship licenses and have no need to appeal. Therefore, unless 1st offense your case is out of the ordinary, you probably can represent yourself at the Registry and you will most likely get a hardship license.

If you have a complicated case or if you have an out of state license, you should speak with a hardship license attorney. Otherwise, if you are a first offender and you have a valid work letter and proof of alcohol program enrollment, you can probably get a hardship license yourself. I am sure that the OUI case was costly enough and there’s no need to spend more money on a lawyer for your hardship license hearing.


Probation Violations in Mass. Hardship License Cases

If you are convicted of operating under the influence in Massachusetts or you admit to sufficient facts and receive a continuance without a finding (CWOF), you will be placed on probation. When you are on probation, you will be required to abide by certain terms and conditions. For example, you may be required to  maintain employment, or, if you re unemployed, you may be required to actively look for employment, you may also be required to attend and complete an educational program such as the § 24D first offender alcohol program, the DUIL 14 day residential program in Tewksbury, or another alcohol treatment program. You may have to adhere to travel restrictions and meet periodically with a probation officer.  In drunk driving cases, you will likely be required to refrain from drug or alcohol consumption. Other common OUI probation conditions include mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous attendance and/or individual alcohol counseling.  Financial obligations include the payment of monthly probation fees. Drug testing as well as breathalzyer tests may be performed to insure compliance.

For those seeking hardship licenses in Massachusetts, it is imperative to not violate the terms and conditions of probation. Both the Massachusetts RMV and the Board of Appeal of the Massachusetts Division of insurance look for letters from probation officers as part of hardship license hearings. These letters should state that the hardship license applicant has not had any probation violations and that he or she is in good standing with probation. Also, the Registry and Board of Appeal will review your probation record as part of an hardship license appeal and probation violations stick out like a sore thumb.

Having a probation violation on your record may disqualify you from being considered for a hardship license, especially if the probation violation is due to another alcohol related incident or being arrested for a new offense such as operating after suspension. Also, the Appeals Board and Registry take a negative view of any probation violations due to failure to complete a required alcohol program or court-ordered counseling. If you had a violation of probation on your record due to your most recent OUI, you should be ready to fully explain and address this at your hardship license hearing. A lawyer can help you with this.

The Registry’s Board of Appeal is hesitant to grant hardship licenses to those with probation violations because the Board members are concerned that if someone cannot follow their terms and conditions of probation, they may not be able to follow the rules associated with a hardship license and/ or they may be at risk of re-offending.

Hardship License Difficulty Increases with Number of DUI Offenses

In Massachusetts, when it comes to getting a hardship license for a DUI license suspension, generally the more DUI incidents, breathalyzer refusal suspensions, or other indicators of potential drunk driving incidents, such as leaving the scene of a property damage or personal injury accident you have on your record, the more difficult it becomes to obtain a hardship license from either the Registry of Motor Vehicles or Board of Appeal.

Most first offenders, for example, do not even need to hire a lawyer to obtain a hardship license from the Mass. RMV. Within 3-4 business days after a plea, so long as the 1st offender has acceptable proof of employment, proof of a lack of public transportation, and evidence of enrollment in the 24D first offender program, the Registry will generally grant a hardship license and no lawyer is necessary.

When it comes to second offenders, the documentation required for a hardship license increases substantially. The applicant must demonstrate not only that he or she has a bona fide hardship, but also that the applicant has his or her alcohol problem under control such that granting a hardship license will not endanger the public. An alcohol evaluation is required in these cases and the Registry will not accept a 1st offender 16 week outpatient program. Instead, the Registry will be looking for completion of the 14 day in-patient DUIL Program which is operated out of Tewksbury State Hospital.

Most third and fourth offenders end up at the Board of Appeal, because they do not have proof of completion of the 90-day residential alcohol treatment program which the Registry requires in all such hardship license cases.  These repeat offenders must present a convincing case regarding hardship and that reinstating their licenses does not pose an unacceptable risk to public safety. A hardship license applicant in this situation must convincingly show that the applicant’s alcoholism has been brought into remission and that he or she is highly unlikely to reoffend. A favorable alcohol evaluation is essential as well as a proven commitment to sobriety.

If you are a multiple offender who is seeking a hardship license in Massachusetts, I urge you to contact me for a free review of your situation and consultation regarding your options. I have helped large numbers of people legally reinstate their driver’s licenses and I may be able to help you get back on the road with a hardship or full license.

Hardship Licensing in Massachusetts

The loss of a driver’s license in Massachusetts can be devastating, due to the general lack of public transportation in the area. Fortunately, for those who have had their licenses suspended or revoked, it may be possible to obtain a hardship license. These licenses are issued to qualified applicants who have had their licenses suspended or revoked for operating under the influence, being a habitual traffic offender, drug convictions, 7 surchargeable events, license fraud, and various traffic violations.

Depending on the driver’s record and the type of license suspension or revocation, hardship licenses which allow the holder to drive for 12 hours each day, are issued by either the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles or the Board of Appeal of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance. Hardship licenses are issued for work, education, or medical purposes and sufficient documentation must be provided at the hardship license hearing. Legal representation at the these hearings is strongly recommended, especially if you are appearing before the Board of Appeal.

No hardship licenses are granted for suspensions due to non-payment of citations, child support, state taxes, or property damage claims. All outstanding financial obligations and must be paid prior to reinstatement, this includes any reinstatement fees which are mandated my Massachusetts Law. Also, required classes and courses must be taken as a condition of license reinstatement or the issuance of a hardship license.

Anyone who is obtaining a hardship license due to a DUI suspension, who has 2 more DUI convictions on his or her records will have a “Z” ignition interlock restriction on his or her license while on a hardship license and for 2 additional years after having the hardship restriction removed.

Hardship licenses are generally not available when a driver’s license is suspended or revoked due to an out of state suspension or a block in the National Driver Register. The driver must reinstate in the other state prior to attempting to obtain a hardship or full license in Massachusetts.

Those who are denied hardship licenses by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles have the right to appeal the denial to the Board of Appeal, pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 28. Those who are denied hardship licenses by the Board of Appeal have the right to appeal the denial to Superior Court in Suffolk County or in their county of residence, pursuant to G.L. c. 30A. Hardship licenses denials are very difficult to win in Superior Court, due to the wide latitude and discretion conferred upon the Board of Appeal and the substantial deference afforded to Board decisions.

7 Surchargeable Events Suspensions

The Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds, which was established pursuant to G.L. c. 26, § 8A within the Massachusetts Division of Insurance hears hardship license requests and driver’s license suspension appeals, such as those for 7 surchargeable events. The Board of Appeal also administers and interprets the Safe Driver Insurance Plan.

According to the Board, motor vehicle equipment regulations are in place to prevent dangerous roadway situations caused by improperly equipped motor vehicles. Brake lights signal other drivers that a vehicle is stopping, Defective or inoperative brake lights are clearly dangerous and a public safety issue. The Board of Appeal has ruled that a defective equipment/brake light violation is significant and merits inclusion as a reportable traffic law violation under the Safe Driver Plan. The Board has concluded that these violations which result in a responsible finding can count towards a 7 surchargeable events suspension.

Under G.L. c. 175, § 113B, a seventh surchargeable event within years will result in a license suspension and it has upheld license suspensions based on  defective equipment/brake light violations. The Board believes that Motor vehicle equipment regulations are in place to prevent dangerous roadway situations caused by improperly equipped motor vehicles. The Appeals Board has ruled that brake lights signal other drivers that a vehicle is stopping, Defective or inoperative brake lights are clearly dangerous and a public safety issue. According to the Board, a defective equipment/brake light violation is significant and merits inclusion in the calculation for a 7 surchargeable events suspension and as a reportable traffic law violation under the Massachusetts Safe Driver Plan.

The good news is that the Board of Appeal has the authority to grant hardship licenses and full reinstatements on 7 surchargeable events suspensions.

Board of Appeal Finding and Order is not a License

If you have appealed your license suspension to the Board of Appeal and the Board has granted you a hardship license or some other relief from the suspension of your license or right to operate in Massachusetts, you cannot begin driving until MassDOT has reinstated your license or right to drive.

After your Board of Appeal hearing, the Board will send a written decision which is called a “finding and order.” The Board will mail this finding and order to either you or your lawyer. The Board will not give you a decision over the telephone, as all decisions are required to be in writing.

Upon receipt of the “finding and order,” either directly or from your attorney, you must bring the document to a Registry Hearings Officer so that the hearings officer can enter the decision into the RMV computer system. Registry clerks cannot enter Board decisions, as they must be entered by hearings officers.

Once the Board of Appeal decision is entered into the computer, you have to pay any required reinstatement fees as well as any other financial obligations such as unpaid citations. Also, you may have to take driver retraining classes, a written test and/or a road test. Both the Board and the Registry have the ability to place restrictions and requirements on license reinstatements and you cannot legally drive unless and until you have satisfied all of the requirements.

I recently obtained a full license reinstatement for a client who had his license suspended for 7 surchargeable events. Prior to going to the Registry and getting his license reinstated, he was caught driving by the police, stopped, and arrested. He was charged with operating after suspension, which is a criminal offense which will trigger a new license suspension if he is convicted. Also, the Registry notified the Board of Appeal that the client was caught operating after suspension and the Board rescinded its order reinstating the client’s license and it issued a new finding in order wherein the Board affirmed the 60 day suspension for 7 surchargeable events. This case shows how important it is to follow reinstatement and hardship licensing requirements.

Hardship Licenses for 1st Offenders in Massachusetts

I have been getting a lot of calls from OUI 1st offenders who are looking for hardship licenses. They have had their licenses suspended for 180 days for breathalyzer refusals and, understandably, they want to get back on the road with hardship licenses. However, the general rule in Massachusetts is that you cannot get a hardship license while serving a breathalyzer refusal suspension.

There is an exception to the no hardship license during a refusal suspension rule. The exception is that 1st offenders who have their cases resolved pursuant to G.L. c. 90 § 24D can get be considered for 12 hour hardship licenses. However, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will not consider anyone for a hardship license unless and until the first offender is legally qualified and the operating under the influence case was resolved under § 24D. This means that you cannot be considered for a hardship license immediately after your drunk driving arrest. Instead, you must wait until the case is resolved in court. There are absolutely no exceptions to this rule, no matter how important you job is or how badly you need to drive. The Registry has no legal ability to consider you for a hardship license until your case is resolved. 

Driving While Suspended Can Block you from getting a Hardship License

I recently spoke with a self-employed construction supervisor who is suffering through four (4) habitual traffic offender revocations and multiple suspensions for both operating after suspension and driving on a revoked license. He contacted my office in search of a hardship license. Unfortunately, he contacted us too late. This case illustrates the importance of retaining a lawyer to appeal your license suspension before it is too late.

Unfortunately, because of his record which shows more than a half dozen convictions for operating after suspension or revocation, I will not be able to get him a work or hardship license. This is because operating after revocation or suspension is an automatic disqualifer at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles in HTO hardship license cases. While recent operating after suspension or revocation is not an automatic disqualifer at the RMV Appeals Board, the Board members take a very dim view of these charges, believing that they are evidence of a conscious disregard for the law.

This man repeatedly made the bad decision to drive while he had a revoked license. Given the nature of his work and his job requirements, this is understandable. However, prior to accumulating the operating after revocation convictions, he could have used these job requirements to seek hardship relief from the RMV or Board of Appeal. Now that he has amassed a long driving record, getting a hardship license is highly unlikely.

This otherwise law-abiding individual dug a hole for himself because each time he got convicted of operating after suspension, a new 4 year habitual traffic offender revocation was generated. As it currently stands, he will not be able to get his license reinstated until 2016. Also, he faces jail time for his most recent operating after revocation case, which is still pending in Framingham District Court.

The moral of this story is to contact a lawyer and try to get a hardship license as soon as possible. After you have accumulated a large number of operating after revocation or driving while suspended convictions, getting a 12 hour hardship license may be extremely difficult, if not impossible.