Cape Cod DUI Attorneys

Losing your license can cause significant hardship.

You may be able to get back on the road with a “Cinderella” License.

Upon receiving a DUI or OUI charge, people often ask about hardship licenses, also known as “Cinderella Licenses.” If you are facing a First Offense OUI, Multiple offense OUI, Drug Offense, or you have multiple traffic offenses, you may qualify for a hardship license.

There are specific requirements that must be met for eligibility, however. Consult with Cape Cod DUI Attorneys Milligan and Higgins, who are deeply experienced with the application process and eligibility requirements for Cinderella licenses in Massachusetts. Your attorney will be able to walk you through the ins and outs of hardship license requirements and what steps you can take to receive one.


Our firm practices 100% DUI defense. Our experience in both defending and prosecuting Massachusetts OUI cases gives us the advantage.

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Obtaining a Cinderella license in the Cape region is a complex process, and many nuances of your case will impact the exact timeframe and eligibility for your situation. Get to know your options and consult with an experienced Massachusetts OUI attorney before you make any decisions about how to handle your request for a Cape Cod hardship license.

Hardship or "Cinderella" Licenses

Depending on the number of prior offenses on your record, you may be eligible to receive a Hardship License, commonly referred to as a “Cinderella License,” for relief during a court-imposed license suspension.

What is a “Cinderella” License?

Hardship licenses are often called “Cinderella” licenses because they are time restricted. You will only be allowed to drive for a set 12-hour period, usually during your work hours. These licenses are only granted to individuals who can prove that they would suffer significant “hardship” because of the suspension or revocation of their driver’s license. Even then, you will be eligible for a Hardship License only after you have served a specified period of your suspension.

NOTE: The Registry of Motor Vehicles does not issue Hardship Licenses for Breath Test Refusal Suspensions or Breath Test Failure Suspensions.

A common misunderstanding is that you can get a “Cinderella License” during a suspension that resulted from your refusal or failure of the Breathalyzer Test. “Cinderella” licenses are only issued during suspensions that come as a result of either a conviction or a plea/admission to the charge.

Who Can Get a Hardship License?

In Massachusetts, hardship licenses are granted by the RMV and are only considered for the purposes of work, school, or a need to attend regular medical appointments. They are usually granted to individuals who meet strict requirements and whose livelihoods are dependent upon their ability to drive. They are not available for everyone who has a DUI or OUI charge.

There are other factors that may contribute to your eligibility for a hardship license. Your driving history, criminal record, age (whether or not you are under 21), your number of outstanding driving citations, and the facts of your case all play a part in the RMV’s decision making.

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Hardship Eligibility Requirements (By OUI Offense)

You can only become eligible for a Hardship License only after you have served a specified period of your court-imposed license suspension for conviction (or admitting to sufficient facts). Again, hardship licenses are not awarded to individuals who are still serving a breathalyzer-related suspension.

Below are the Hardship eligibility requirements for the various DUI/OUI offenses:

• 24D First Offender Program: Immediate (upon your entry into the First Offender’s Alcohol Education Program)
• First OUI Conviction: 3 months into the 1-year suspension
• Second OUI Conviction: 1 year into the 2-year suspension
• Third OUI Conviction: 2 years of your 8-year suspension
• Fourth OUI Conviction: 5 years of your 10-year suspension
• Fifth OUI Conviction: None (lifetime suspension)

Note that the above timeframes are in addition to any duration of a breath test related suspension from the RMV, which must be served in full first, before the court suspension for conviction. Additional details and total times until eligibility (including breath suspensions) are broken down below.

First OUI Offense Cinderella License Guidelines

You’ll become eligible 3 months into the 1-year suspension, unless you received a disposition under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, § 24D and the court ordered a license suspension of between 45 and 90 days. In that case, upon your entry into the First Offender’s Alcohol Education Program, you will be eligible for a 12-hour work-related Hardship License during your period of suspension.

If you refused the Breath Test and you resolve your case within the 180-day refusal suspension, the Hardship License will be for the duration of that suspension plus the court-ordered suspension.

Second OUI Offense Cinderella License Guidelines

You’ll become eligible 1 year into the 2-year suspension, unless your prior offense occurred more than 10 years ago and you received the Second Offender’s Alternative Disposition under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 90, § 24D with the associated license loss of 45-90 days. In that case, you will be eligible for a 12-hour work-related Hardship License during your suspension (subject to the Ignition Interlock Requirement) upon your entry into the 24D First Offender’s Alcohol Education Program.

If you refused the Breath Test and suffered a 3-year refusal suspension, your Hardship License will be for the duration of that suspension plus the court-ordered suspension of between 45 and 90 days. If your prior offense occurred within the last 10 years and you refused the Breath Test, the 2-year suspension will not begin until your 3-year refusal suspension has run. In that case, you will not be eligible for a Hardship License (subject to the Ignition Interlock Requirement) until 4 years into the aggregate 5-year suspension.

Third OUI Offense Cinderella License Guidelines

After 2 years of your 8-year suspension you will be eligible for a 12-hour work-related Hardship License. After 4 years, you will be eligible for a new license on a limited basis with conditions deemed appropriate by the RMV and subject to the Ignition Interlock requirement.

For example, if you refused the breath test in the Cape for a third OUI, your 8-year suspension from the court will not begin until after the 5-year refusal suspension from the RMV. You would not be eligible for a Hardship License until 7 years into the 13-year-total suspension (5 years from the RMV, then 2 out of the 8 years from the court).

Fourth OUI Offense Cinderella License Guidelines

After 5 years of your 10-year suspension you will be eligible for a 12-hour work-related Hardship License, subject to the Ignition Interlock Requirement. After 8 years, you will be eligible for a new license on a limited basis with conditions deemed appropriate by the RMV, subject to the Ignition Interlock Requirement.

If you refused the Breath Test, you will not be eligible for a Hardship License after a fourth OUI offense.

Fifth OUI Offense Cinderella License Guidelines

Conviction for a fifth OUI offense includes a lifetime loss of your license to drive in the state of Massachusetts. As a result, you will not be eligible for a Hardship License after a fifth offense for OUI in the Cape.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Cinderella Licenses

Not necessarily, but for many it’s the best option. You have the right to an appeal of your RMV license suspension from the arrest, but these are not easy to win because the standard of proof for the state is very low in these appeal hearings. It’s also possible to win your case or have it dismissed, which would prevent any additional court-imposed license suspension from conviction.

Finally, a first or second offender often has the option to admit to sufficient facts (which is not the same as admitting guilt) and accept a Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF). In return, you won’t be convicted (but will serve probation) and you’ll also benefit from a reduced license suspension of 45-90 days.

A Hardship License requires you to establish that the loss of your ability to drive is significantly harming your livelihood or otherwise causing hardship. The reasoning behind the license is to provide a limited ability to drive so that you can reduce that hardship. Therefore, a hardship license won’t give you the same freedom as your real driver’s license—you’d be limited to driving between certain locations at certain times, generally during a 12-hour window that includes work hours—but it’s a helpful tool while you serve the remainder of the OUI / DUI license suspension period.

You need very specific documentation to obtain a hardship license, and the required documentation depends on the charge you are facing. For example, a multiple offense charge will require different documentation than a first offense charge. To receive a hardship license, you usually need to be enrolled in a requisite program, such as the “24D” or First Offender Driver Alcohol Education Program.  Consult with a Cape Cod OUI attorney for information on the required steps in your particular case.

Hardship licenses are not a required step on the road to restoring your full driver’s license. However, they may be the best option you have while you are serving out a court-imposed license suspension for OUI with no other recourse. Unless you beat your case in court (or get the case dismissed), you will have to serve at least some portion of the license suspension in your sentence before any form of license restoration or hardship license becomes available to you.

Top-Rated First OUI Defense Lawyers in Massachusetts

ATTORNEY JAMES MILLIGAN

Attorney James Milligan is a top rated Massachusetts DWI DUI OUI defense lawyer. He is one of just a few lawyers in Massachusetts who is board certified in drunk driving defense as recognized by the American Bar Association. Concentrating his practice entirely on Massachusetts drunk driving defense, OUI defense, DUI defense, and DWI defense, Attorney Milligan is often the best resource for other lawyers representing a client charged with drunk driving.

ATTORNEY JOSEPH J. HIGGINS

Joseph J. Higgins is a Criminal Defense Attorney that specializes in representing people charged with drunk driving in Massachusetts. He devotes his entire practice of law to DUI/OUI Defense and has been recognized by The National College for DUI Defense for his dedication and commitment to this area of the law. Attorney Higgins has also been identified by Super Lawyers Magazine as a Massachusetts “Rising Star” in DUI/DWI Defense. This distinction is limited to only 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state.

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