Is not having your license causing unnecessary hardship?

You may know from your first OUI conviction that you will have to surrender your driver's license for a specified amount of time as part of the resolution of your case. Now that you have two or more OUI convictions, the length of that suspension may make your life much more difficult that it should.

It may be possible to get a hardship license that allows you to drive under certain conditions. The Massachusetts Registry of Vehicles oversees the process. Whether you receive a hardship license depends on a variety of factors. You may be able to increase your odds by understanding the requirements and the best documentation to illustrate your need.

Hurdle number one

Before you can even consider applying for a hardship license, you must meet some preliminary criteria. First, there can be no evidence that you have driven during your suspension. Second, you must have satisfied a portion of your suspension as follows:

  • Under a one-year suspension, you may apply for a work or education hardship license after three months and a general one after six months.
  • Under a two-year suspension, you may apply for a work or education hardship license after one year and a general one after 18 months.
  • Under an eight-year suspension, you may apply for a work or education hardship license after two years and a general one after four years.
  • Under a ten-year suspension, you may apply for a work or education hardship license after five years and a general one after eight years.

If you have any other active suspensions or revocations, you must complete them as well prior to applying.

Hurdle number two

More than likely, part of your sentencing included attending an alcohol or drug treatment program. When you apply for a hardship license, you will need to have documentation of the following:

  • You will need to provide evidence of the completion of an authorized in-house alcohol treatment program of either two weeks (for a second offense) or 90 days (for a third or more offense).
  • The in-house treatment provider will need to provide you with a Discharge Summary that includes an assessment of your risk factor or chances of committing another offense.
  • You will need to provide evidence that you complied with all necessary aftercare, including any further treatment. Again, the RMV requires a Discharge Summary in order to satisfy this requirement. You need to know that this particular summary expires within 90 of its issuance.

Hurdle number three

You may also need to provide additional documentation from other sources such as the following:

  • If part of your sentence included probation, you will need to provide a letter from your probation officer stating that you complied, or are complying, with all requirements. This letter cannot be more than 30 days old at the time of your application.
  • You will need to provide an official letter from your employer regarding your work hours and the need for a hardship license. If you are self-employed, you must provide proof of it, along with why you need a hardship license and during what hours.

If you need a hardship license for educational or medical purposes, you must include the appropriate documentation.

Hurdle number four

You will also need to provide information regarding the public transportation, or lack thereof, in your area. For example, if you can't take the bus to work because it doesn't run at the right times for you, you would provide proof of that fact.

You probably need to attend a hearing regarding your application. If you receive an approval, you will need to return affidavits and proof that your vehicle has an ignition interlock device installed in it before you can drive again.

Even though your application and supporting documentation demonstrate the need for a hardship license, that doesn't guarantee that you receive one. The RMV may grant or deny your application at its sole discretion. So, the better your application, documentation and hearing, the greater the chance you will prevail.

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