In Massachusetts, refusing to take a chemical test is not a criminal offense, but is instead a statutory requirement with an administrative suspension/revocation. The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) will suspend/revoke your permit/license or right to operate immediately.

If you are arrested for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol (OUI), you will be asked to consent to a chemical test (breathalyzer test) to determine your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). If you refuse a chemical test, the arresting officer will immediately:

  • Revoke your permit/license (if issued by Massachusetts) or right to operate
  • Provide you with written notification of the suspension/revocation of your driver's license, effective immediately (no temporary driver's license will be issued)
  • Impound your motor vehicle for 12 hours
  • Notify the RMV of the suspension within 24 hours

Suspension Periods for Refusing a Chemical Test

Suspension periods vary by the number of prior Operating Under the Influence violations you have incurred, including convictions or program assignments from out-of-state or any other jurisdiction. The following table lists the suspension periods for refusing a chemical test, depending on your past Operating Under the Influence history.

Age of Driver - 21+

Number of Prior OUIs Suspension Period
None 180 days
One Three years
Two Five years
Three or more Lifetime

Age of Driver - Under 21

Number of Prior OUIs Suspension Period
None Three Years
One Three years
Two Five years
Three or more Lifetime

Age of Driver - All Ages

Prior OUIs Suspension Period
Prior OUI Serious Bodily Injury Ten years
Prior Vehicular Homicide Lifetime

If any of the prior Operating Under the Influence convictions included Serious Bodily Injury, the suspension period is ten years. If any of the prior Operating Under the Influence convictions included Vehicular Homicide, the suspension period is lifetime.

If your permit/license or right to operate is suspended/revoked for a chemical test refusal and you receive a court disposition of "Not Guilty" or a "Dismissal" on the underlying Operating Under the Influence violation, you are entitled to file a motion with the court requesting driver's license reinstatement under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24(1) (f) (1). It is important to note that the court disposition on the Operating Under the Influence violation alone will not automatically reinstate the suspension for a chemical test refusal.

When the chemical test refusal suspension/revocation expires, or a court order for reinstatement has been issued, you must see a Hearings Officer to be authorized for reinstatement.

You are entitled to a RMV hearing for a chemical test refusal, but you must appear within (15) fifteen days of the chemical test refusal.

Chemical test refusal hearings are only conducted at the Boston RMV Office by a RMV hearings Officer. There are only three (3) issues that can be challenged during the 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 test.

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