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Types of suspension hearings

This section explains the different types of suspension hearings the RMV conducts.

Table of Contents

Alcohol or drug suspension hearings

Below are the requirements that must be met before attending a hearing for an alcohol or drug suspension.

For additional information related to alcohol and drug suspension hearings, refer to the Apply for a hardship license section.

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Chemical test refusal hearings

You are entitled to a hearing before the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) within 15 days of a chemical test refusal.

Chemical Test Refusal Hearings are only conducted at the Boston (Haymarket) Service Center  between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm on a walk-in basis. At this hearing, you may present witnesses, documents, and any other evidence you wish to be considered.

There are only 3 issues that can be challenged during the hearing, pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24:

  1. Did the police officer have reasonable grounds to believe that you had been Operating Under the Influence?
  2.  Were you placed under arrest?
  3.  Did you refuse the chemical test?

If any of these can be effectively proven in the negative, the RMV will rescind the suspension/revocation.

Junior operator suspension hearings

All Junior Operator suspensions/revocations are mandatory under state law; therefore the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) cannot alter these suspensions/revocations. Junior Operators are not eligible to apply for hardship licenses; therefore, hearings for Junior Operator suspensions/revocations are not required.

However, you may request a hearing on the accuracy of the RMV's record only. If you feel that an error has been made, you will need to present documentation to an RMV Hearings Officer to demonstrate that you were found not guilty or not responsible for the reported violation.

Junior Operators with alcohol or drug convictions should follow policies detailed in the Alcohol or drug suspension hearings section above.

Accumulation of offenses hearings

You are not required to see a RMV Hearings Officer to reinstate the following suspensions/revocations:

  • 3 speeding tickets within a 1-year period
  • 3 surchargeable events within a 2-year period
  • 5 surchargeable events within a 3-year period
  • 7 surchargeable events within a 3-year period
  • 3 convictions for not having transparent windows

If you have any of the suspensions/revocations listed above, you have the right to see an RMV Hearings Officer, but only to address the accuracy of your driving record. If you feel that an error has been made and wish to challenge the record as reported, you will need to present documentation to an RMV Hearings Officer to demonstrate that:

  • You were not guilty or not responsible for a reported motor vehicle violation and/or an at-fault surchargeable accident
  • The offense was not yours
  • A court disposition was entered incorrectly
  • You received a suspension notice for a civil citation for which you have requested a court hearing
  • You have been approved for a Board of Appeals hearing to challenge an at-fault accident.

This documented proof can include, but is not limited to, any of the following:

  • A court abstract
  • A Civil Motor Vehicle Violation court disposition sheet
  • Proof from the Board of Appeals that an appeal hearing has been allowed for a surchargeable accident; proof can be any of the following:
  • Letter
  • Postcard
  • Front and back of the cancelled check used to file the appeal

Hearings for Habitual Traffic Offenders

If you have a Habitual Traffic Offender suspension/revocation, you may choose to appear for a hearing prior to the effective date of the suspension/revocation. Appearance is not required if you are not challenging the accuracy of the record.

You must see an RMV Hearings Officer prior to being reinstated for a Habitual Traffic Offender suspension/revocation.

Additional Resources

Out of state suspension hearings

If your learner's permit/driver's license or right to operate is suspended/revoked in Massachusetts due to a drug, alcohol, or motor vehicle fatality-related conviction in another state/jurisdiction, you must bring all the following documents to a RMV Hearings Officer for reinstatement:

  • A Certified Drivers History (issued within 30 days) from the state in which the offense occurred
  • Court Abstracts providing disposition information
  • A letter of reinstatement from the state of violation (current within 30 days)

After an RMV Hearings Officer reviews your documents, you may be required to provide additional information.

If your learner's permit/driver's license or right to operate is suspended/revoked in Massachusetts due to any other conviction in another state/jurisdiction must bring a letter of reinstatement from the state of conviction to any RMV Hearings Officer in order to be reinstated. Out-of-state letters of reinstatement must be no more than 30 days old.

Public safety suspension/complaint hearings

The RMV holds administrative hearings when a complaint is received concerning an issue of public safety. At least 14 days prior to any suspension/revocation action, the Registrar will schedule a hearing on the matter and issue a hearing notice to your address on file.

The RMV schedules these hearings before the suspension/revocation becomes effective in order to advise you of the basis of the complaint against you. A hearing notice will notify you of the date & time to appear for a hearing at an RMV Service Center.

If you fail to appear at this scheduled hearing, the RMV will suspend/revoke your driver's license indefinitely, effective 10 days from the date of the hearing.

During this hearing, the RMV Hearings Officer will review all documentation in support of the request for suspension/revocation under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 22(b). You are entitled to examine all documents submitted in request of the suspension/revocation and provide any information, whether written or testimonial, in support of your position. An RMV Hearings Officer, on behalf of the Registrar, will make a decision and take action if it is determined that such action is supported by substantial evidence. You will be told the final decision at the hearing or contacted within 10 business days of the final decision.

Additional Resources

Fatal motor vehicle suspension hearings

If you have been convicted of a fatal motor vehicle violation, you must meet with a RMV Hearings Officer to begin the reinstatement process. If you have more than one conviction for a fatal motor vehicle violation, you will be issued a lifetime suspension.

A fatal motor vehicle violation suspension/revocation is not eligible to apply for a hardship license.

Additional Resources

Court ordered suspension hearings

If you have a court-ordered suspension, you must meet with a RMV Hearings Officer. You must obtain documentation from the court that ordered the suspension authorizing the RMV to reinstate your learner's permit/driver's license or right to operate and present such documentation to an RMV Hearings Officer.

Additional Resources

Property damage claim suspension hearings

The RMV holds administrative hearings when a property damage claim is received. 14 days prior to any suspension/revocation action, the Registrar will schedule a hearing on the matter and issue a hearing notice to your address on file.

You must obtain a signed release of judgment from the plaintiff and present such documentation to an RMV Hearings Officer prior to the intended date of suspension/revocation. If a release of judgment is not filed prior to the intended date of suspension/revocation, your learner's permit/driver's license, or right to operate, and/or registration will be suspended/revoked, and remain suspended/revoked until a release of judgment is filed.

Additional Resources

Commercial driver's license (CDL) suspension hearings

All CDL disqualifications are mandatory by law; the RMV does not have discretion on these disqualifications. An operator with a CDL disqualification is not eligible to apply for a hardship license; therefore, hearings for CDL disqualifications are not granted. However, you may request a hearing to dispute the accuracy of the RMV's record only. If you feel that an error has been made, you will need to present documentation to demonstrate that you were found not guilty or not responsible for the reported violation.

 

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