Can I get a Hardship License? I was just arrest for DUI.

June 7, 2013

in Drunk Driving

Waiting at the DMV

If you have just been arrested for DUI in Massachusetts or New Hampshire the answer to that question is a harsh “NO!

First, the State of New Hampshire, like many jurisdictions, does not have a provision under the law for a “hardship” or “work/education” license. They do not exist in New Hampshire. Maybe someday the law will change. One of the reasons New Hampshire is considered one of the toughest DUI sentencing jurisdictions in the country is that they impose long administrative license suspension (ALS) periods and lengthy Court ordered DUI suspension periods without hardship eligibility under the law. If you are revoked for two (2) years for a breath test refusal period and later convicted as a second offender and given an additional three (3) year suspension by the sentencing Court, those periods run consecutive to each other and you are revoked for five (5) years without the right to seek or request a hardship license. If you are a Massachusetts resident, with a New Hampshire revocation of driving privileges, as described above, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and the Board of Appeal (BOA) will not issue a hardship license during the period of suspension of your privilege to drive in New Hampshire or any other state.

The only way to obtain a hardship license in Massachusetts during any period of suspension from a DUI arrest is to be sentenced by the Court on the OUI charge. Only after the Court imposes a license loss following a plea, admission or guilty finding at trial, can you request hardship relief from the RMV or the BOA. If you’ve been arrested for a typical first offense OUI charge in Massachusetts your license is revoked for either thirty (30) days for taking a breath test at or over the .08 legal limit or 180 days for refusing a breath test. The qualifying criteria for a hardship license on a first offense OUI in Massachusetts is being placed on probation on the OUI charge, and enrollment in the M.G.L. Chapter 90, section 24D Alcohol Education Program. You cannot be placed on probation and enrolled in the 24D program unless you plead out to the criminal OUI charge, or were found guilty at trial, and then received the sentence from the Court. If you are fighting the case, opted not to hire a “plea escort service” and will go to trial it will usually be a process of several months, not several weeks, before your case goes to trial. If you took the breath test, pay the $500 reinstatement fee at the end of the thirty (30) day suspension and drive until trial. If you refused the test, you cannot drive during the 180 day Chemical Test Refusal (CTR) suspension, and you can never obtain a hardship license during this suspension. If your trial is scheduled beyond six months from the arrest date you can be fully restored upon payment of $500 at the end of the six month CTR. If you are acquitted at trial, found “not guilty” and are still within the six month CTR, you can request a hearing to determine if the Court (Judge) will order the RMV to restore your license. This is an incredibly helpful provision of the Massachusetts OUI statute. Chemical Test Refusal (CTR) suspensions are graduated depending on your prior OUI history, 180 days (no priors), three (3) years (one prior or Under 21), five (5) years (two priors), or a Lifetime suspension (three priors). Again, a hardship license is not available during these periods of suspension, but you have the opportunity to ask the Judge to vacate the CTR suspension upon acquittal or dismissal of the underlying OUI charge. This type of restoration process upon a “not guilty” finding does not exist in New Hampshire.

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Massachusetts or New Hampshire a hardship license is never immediately available. Hire a lawyer that can explain why and when you can get back on the road with a hardship license.

Photo credit: Omar Omar / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

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