By driving a car in Massachusetts, you impliedly consent to a chemical analysis of your breath or blood upon being arrested and charged with DUI/OUI. However, we live in a state where the police cannot strap you down to a gurney and just draw your blood or shove a tube into your mouth to force you into doing the Breathalyzer Test. So, when you refuse to do the Breathalyzer Test, the law allows for the Registry of Motor Vehicles to essentially punish you with an administrative license suspension. This suspension is entirely separate and apart from any court-imposed suspension that might come at the conclusion of your criminal case.
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The length of this refusal suspension depends on how many DUI/OUIs appear on your driving history:
First Offense: 180 days
Second Offense: 3 years
Third Offense: 5 years
Fourth Offense: Lifetime
NOTE: The Registry of Motor Vehicles does not issue Hardship Licenses for refusal suspensions.
Within 15 days of your arrest, you can appeal this suspension at the Driver Control Unit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Boston.
The appeal is called a Chemical Test Refusal (CTR) hearing. At this hearing, you are limited to challenging the following three issues:
1. Did the police officer have reasonable grounds to believe your were operating under the influence?
2. Were you placed under arrest?
3. Did you in fact refuse the Breathalyzer Test?
CTR Hearings are conducted on a first-come, first-serve basis. As such, the Code of Massachusetts Regulations allows for the RMV Hearings Officer to adjourn the hearing to obtain additional documents/evidence from the police department that arrested you. Virtually every CTR hearing is adjourned for this purpose. Once the Hearings Officer has obtained all the documents/evidence and the record of the hearing is closed, he/she will render a decision either allowing your appeal or denying it. If your appeal is denied, you have a right to petition the court where your criminal case is pending for a review of the RMV Hearings Officer’s decision. If you wish to exercise your right to this appeal process, it must be done within 15 days of your arrest.