Keegan Law - Criminal Defense AttorneyRefusal Hearing in Massachusetts

If you are pulled over and suspected of an OUI in Massachusetts, the officer may first have you perform a field sobriety test. If you fail that test, they may request that you take a chemical test. Refusing to take this test could result in an automatic license suspension and you may still be charged with an OUI.

Because of Melanie’s Law, there are increased penalties issued to those that refuse to take a breathalyzer test in Massachusetts. The law requires you to take a blood or breath test if you are arrested for an OUI. The implied consent law in Massachusetts states that if you are legally arrested by an officer that has probable cause, then you automatically consent to taking that test. Refusing to do so will result in a refusal hearing.

The refusal hearing is not heard in front of a judge and jury – instead, it is a hearing with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and it will determine your license suspension.

Refusing to Take the Chemical Test: What are the Possible Penalties?

Melanie’s Law was implemented in October of 2005. This law increased the penalties for chemical test refusal and includes automatic license suspensions. If you refuse to take the chemical test you could be facing:

If you are 21 years or older…

  • 180 days for 1st offense
  • Three years for 2nd offense
  • Five years for 3rd offense
  • Lifetime suspension for 4th offense

If you are under 21 years…

  • Three years for 1st offense
  • Three years for 2nd offense
  • Five years for 3rd offense
  • Lifetime suspension for 4th offense

If you have a prior OUI with serious bodily injury, you receive an automatic 10-year suspension for refusing to take the test. If you have been convicted of vehicular homicide in the past, you will receive an automatic lifetime suspension for refusing a chemical test.

What is the Refusal Hearing For?

You are entitled to a Registry Hearing and you must appear within 15 days of your refusal. These hearings are conducted at the Registry’s Boston branch and you and your attorney can challenge one of three facts (which may help you keep your license). These include:

  1. The police officer did not have probable cause to arrest and/or even request a chemical test.
  2. You were never placed under arrest for an OUI.
  3. You did not actually refuse the test.

If any of these are proven, you can have your license privileges reinstated by the Registry.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

An attorney may be able to challenge the officer’s reasons for pulling you over or requesting your chemical test in the first place. Because officers must have probable cause, your attorney can show proof there was no justifiable reason for pulling you over in the first place – for example, you were driving the speed limit, not veering out of your lane, etc. Also, if you never refused the chemical test, but police tried to state that you did, your attorney can challenge any statement made while in police custody.

Are You Facing a License Suspension for a CTR? Contact Keegan Law Today

Chemical Test Refusal accusations are serious. Keegan Law can represent your case and help you avoid lengthy license suspensions that will affect your job, schooling and even your quality of life. Contact us today for a consultation at 617-472-1653 or fill out an online contact form.