How Long Does a Hardship License Last?

Anybody convicted of an OUI can expect their driver's license to be suspended. But for how long, and with what mitigating factors?

After you are convicted of an OUI (Operating Under the Influence of alcohol or other drugs) in the state of Massachusetts, and even if you reach a plea deal to avoid the charges going onto your criminal record, it is likely that your license will be suspended for a period of time. During this time, your license will be revoked by the Registry of Motor Vehicles for a range of time that depends on your history of OUI charges. Refer below for a list of suspension lengths depending on your OUI history.

During this time, you may be eligible to apply for a restricted license known as a Hardship License, which will allow you to operate a vehicle during a limited window of time in order to attend obligations related to your education, your income, or your medical needs that would cause significant hardship if you were unable to drive there. Also known colloquially as a “Cinderella License,” this license is neither a guarantee after your charges, nor is it intended to eliminate all inconveniences that your punishment is intended to put in place.

Before applying for a Hardship License in Massachusetts, you will first have to get some help. You will need to attend a hearing at the RMV in order to state your hardship and why you need a vehicle in order to avoid these hardships, and again, there is no certain guarantee that you will be granted this license. Working with a lawyer is the best way to craft a compelling argument for your hearing.

This license is neither a guarantee after your charges, nor is it intended to eliminate all inconveniences that your punishment is intended to put in place.

Lengths of License Suspensions

In Massachusetts, the length of license suspension corresponds to the number of OUIs that you have on your criminal record. Keep in mind that if you reach a plea deal with the prosecution for an initial OUI and avoid having a conviction on your record, this plea deal will still register as a previous OUI for any future charges.

  • First OUI Conviction: 1-year suspension
  • Second OUI Conviction: 2-year suspension
  • Third OUI Conviction: 8-year license suspension
  • Fourth OUI Conviction: 10-year suspension
  • Fifth OUI Conviction: Lifetime suspension

Keep in mind that there are a variety of enhancements to your initial charges—or agreements with the prosecution—that may impact the final length of the suspension.

Hardship Licenses During an OUI License Suspension

Following a first through fourth OUI conviction (or possibly following an alternate disposition or plea deal), you may be eligible to apply for a hardship license in order to get to and from work, school, or medical appointments. You will need to go for a period of time dealing with the suspension before your hardship request is considered, but after you have completed this “hard suspension” time you may be able to keep this restricted license until your full suspension is completed.

  • First OUI: 3-month suspension for work or education hardship
  • Second OUI: 1-year suspension for work or education hardship
  • Third OUI: 2-year license suspension for work or education hardship
  • Fourth OUI: 5-year suspension for work or education hardship
  • Fifth OUI: No possibility of a hardship license

In addition to the period of time, you will be required to endure the license suspension, you may additionally be required to attend an inpatient treatment course or other prerequisites in order to be considered for your hardship license application. However, once you are granted your hardship license it will remain in effect until your full suspension is completed unless you otherwise lose the privileges due to violating the guidelines of these limited driving privileges.

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