Breathalyzer Test Refusal Suspensions (CTR)

In Massachusetts, if you were operating a motor vehicle on a public way and arrested for operating under the influence (OUI/DUI/DWI) and refused to take the breathalyzer test, the RMV will suspend your license.  The length of the suspension depends on a number RMV established factors but the license suspension will be no less than 180 days.  This suspension could be significantly longer if you have prior OUI/DUI/DWI convictions in the Commonwealth or any other jurisdiction.
If you are later found guilty on the underlying drunk driving charge, any additional suspension time will be added to the end of the breathalyzer test refusal suspension.  If you are under 21 and either plead guilty or are found guilty of operating under the influence your license suspension will be an additional 210 days that begins after the breathalyzer test refusal suspension ends.

Breathalyzer Test Refusal Suspension Periods

  • No prior DUI/DWI/OUI convictions
    • License Suspension will be 180 days
  • One prior DUI/DWI/OUI convictions
    • License Suspension will be 3 years
  • Two prior DUI/DWI/OUI convictions
    • License Suspension will be 5 years
  • Three prior DUI/DWI/OUI convictions
    • Lifetime License Suspension

Under 21 Breath Test Refusal Suspension Periods:

  • No prior DUI/DWI/OUI conviction
    • License Suspension will be 3 years, plus an additional 180 days
  • Prior DUI/DWI/OUI Convictions
    • Lengths follow the adult suspension periods, plus an additional 180 days.

Under 18 Breath Test Refusal Suspension Periods:

  • No prior DUI/DWI/OUI conviction
    • License Suspension will be 3 years, plus an additional one year
  • Prior DUI/DWI/OUI Convictions
    • Lengths follow the adult suspension periods, plus an additional one year.
If you are 18 or older but under 21 and refuse the breathalyzer test the RMV can waive the 180 day additional suspension by providing a Hearing Officer proof that you enrolled in the Driver’s Alcohol Education Program.  If you are under 18 and refuse the breathalyzer test, the RMV can reduce the additional one year suspension by 180 days with proof you have enrolled in the Driver’s Alcohol Education Program.

Appealing the Breathalyzer Test Refusal Suspensions

Massachusetts lawmakers passed an implied consent law, under which all drivers operating a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth impledly agree to submit to a breath or blood test if arrested for operating under the influence.  Failure of either a breath or blood test will result in just a 30 day license suspension but the evidence gained by the police is generally admissible in any subsequent criminal proceeding.  Evidence that you refused to take the breath or blood test is not admissible against you in any criminal proceeding, which explains why the license suspension penalties are significantly increased.  If the RMV suspends your license due to a breath test refusal, you have the right to appeal the suspension.  These appeals are very technical and you can benefit from having an experienced former RMV Hearing Officer sitting next to you.

  • Appeals of any license suspensions due to a breath test refusal must be started within 15 days from the date of the incident.  The RMV is very strict about this requirement and will generally not grant any extensions.
  • All appeals of breath test refusal license suspensions are conducted at the Driver Control Unit’s Boston Office.
  • Appeals are limited to challenging whether:
    • The police had reasonable grounds for the OUI arrest.
    • You were not placed under arrest.
    • You did not truly refuse the breath test
  • If you are not successful appealing the license suspension at the RMV, you can appeal further to the District Court within 30 days of the RMV’s decision.