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Driver’s License Suspensions – Chemical Test Refusal Hearings


A prosecutor’s ability to prove a case for drunk driving is greatly enhanced when there is evidence that the driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) exceeds an established percentage of .08 for adults and .02 for minors. Under Massachusetts law, if you are arrested for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol (OUI), you will be asked by the police to consent to a Breathalyzer test to determine your BAC. If you take the test and fail it, your license will be immediately suspended. On the other hand, if you refuse to consent to the test, your refusal cannot be used against you in court but lengthy periods of suspension will be imposed due to your failure to consent. These suspension periods are set forth in the chart below.

Failing a Breath Test

If you are 21 years of age of older and register a BAC of .08 or greater – or if you are under 21 years of age and register a BAC of .02 or greater – your driver’s license will be immediately suspended for 30 days. If you are between the ages of 18 and 21 and register a BAC of .02 or greater, you will be required to participate in a Youth Alcohol Program and serve an additional 180 day suspension. If you are under the age of 18 and register a BAC of .02 or greater, you will also be required to participate in a Youth Alcohol Program, with an additional one year suspension.

Refusing a Breath Test

Not surprisingly, the penalties for refusing a Breathalyzer Test are significantly greater than those imposed for failing the test.

OffenseDriver Over 21Driver Under 21
First180 days3 years
Second3 years3 years
Third5 years5 years
Fourth or MoreLifetimeLifetime

Chemical Test Refusal Hearings

If your license is suspended due to a Chemical Test Refusal, you have the right to a hearing at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. You must appear for such a hearing within 15 days of the refusal. There are only three issues that may be challenged at a hearing:

  • The police officer did not have reasonable grounds for the OUI arrest
  • You were not placed under arrest
  • You did not refuse the Breathalyzer

If any of these points can be proven, the suspension will be rescinded. If the RMV hearing officer upholds the suspension, the finding may be appealed to a judge in the District Court.

A lengthy license suspension will significantly impact your ability to work and to support your family. If the circumstances of your case fall within any of the recognized areas permitting an appeal, it is important to consult with an attorney without delay to determine whether there are any grounds to challenge the suspension. At Sankey Law Offices, we stand ready to help.