Appeals Court (February 17, 2011)
A defendant's mandatory administrative license suspension for an operating under the influence offense begins on the date of conviction rather than the date the Registrar is notified of that conviction.
In this case, the defendant, a Massachusetts resident, was convicted of his third offense of operating under the influence of alcohol in Connecticut on October 4, 2004. The Connecticut Registrar did not enter the defendant's conviction into the National Driver Register until December 3, 2007. It was not until the defendant applied to have his Massachusetts license restored in April 2007 that the Massachusetts Registrar learned of his Connecticut conviction. In accordance with G.L. c. 90, § 24(1) (c) (3), the Registrar suspended the defendant's license for eight years as of April 2007.
The defendant appealed the Registrar's decision in a Superior Court civil action. The defendant appealed again after the Superior Court Judge affirmed the Registrar's decision. The defendant, argued that the statute was clear and that the eight year license suspension, mandated by law, was to run from the date of conviction and not the date the Registrar learned of the suspension. The Registrar argued that she was statutorily mandated to suspend the defendant's license for eight years and that she could only do so upon receiving official notice of the conviction as laid out in G.L. c. 90, § 22(c). The Court disagreed, ruling that G. L. c. 90, § 24(1) (c) (3) speaks directly to the length of the suspension and when that suspension is to begin. The suspension begins on the date of conviction regardless of when the Registrar learns of that conviction. In this case, the defendant's eight year suspension was to run from October 4, 2004 until October 12, 2012.
Note: The Court went on to say, "[w]e need not, and do not, decide the extent of the registrar's discretion to refuse to restore DiGregorio's license after October 4, 2012, in the event the registrar at that time considers him a menace on the road. Such questions are for another day."