JOSEPH L. BURKE
BOARD OF APPEAL ON MOTOR VEHICLE LIABILITY POLICIES AND BONDS & another.
Heard: March 16, 2016.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on December
9, 2013. The case was heard by Edward P. Leibensperger, J.,
on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, and a motion for
reconsideration was considered by him.
K. Wells for the plaintiff.
R. Marks, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendants.
Present: Cohen, Katzmann, & Blake, JJ.
appeal, we are again asked to consider whether a lifetime
suspension is appropriate for a driver who, after having
committed an operating under the influence (OUI) offense,
causes a fatality in the course of a second OUI offense.
Plaintiff Joseph Burke appeals from a judgment of the
Superior Court upholding a decision of the defendant Board of
Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds (Board)
that affirmed the denial by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles
(registrar) of Burke's application for reinstatement of
his driver's license pursuant to G. L. c. 90, §
24(1)(c)(4), as amended through St. 1982, c. 373, § 4,
as well as the registrar's permanent revocation of that
license, on the basis that Burke's second drunk driving
offense resulted in a fatality. We affirm.
February 27, 2000, Burke, was arrested for OUI after a motor
vehicle accident in Rehoboth. On May 1, 2000, Burke admitted
to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty of OUI in
connection with the February incident but received the
benefit of a continuance without a finding of guilty (CWOF)
for one year until May 1, 2001, during which time he was
placed on probation. The terms of his probation included a
180-day loss of license and an assignment to an alcohol
August 6, 2000, while still on probation with his license
suspended as a result of the incident the previous February,
Burke drove a motor vehicle when intoxicated, and was
responsible for a motor vehicle accident in Milton in which
his passenger, Patrick Connolly, sustained fatal
injuries. On December 28, 2000, Burke pleaded
guilty to manslaughter; OUI, second offense; and operating
after his license had been suspended for OUI in connection
with the fatal accident in August, 2000. As part of the
probationary portion of his sentence, Burke was required to
wait ten years after his release from incarceration before he
could apply to have his license reinstated.
January 11, 2001, after his guilty plea in the fatal
accident, the CWOF on Burke's prior offense was revoked
and a guilty conviction and sentence were imposed.
applied to have his driver's license reinstated in
August, 2013. Burke was initially notified that his license
had been revoked for fifteen years. After Burke appealed the
fifteen-year revocation, and pursuant to further review of
his file by the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), the
registrar ultimately notified Burke that he was subject to a
lifetime revocation because of his manslaughter conviction.
The board affirmed, finding after a November 7, 2013, hearing
"that the [r]egistrar's order revoking Burke's
license for life for a conviction of manslaughter in which
alcohol was involved, with a prior [OUI] conviction is legal
and proper, the statute does not contain a statutory
provision for granting a hardship and it is not appropriate
to terminate the license revocation."
raises a number of arguments on appeal that can be broadly
placed into two categories. The first is that the proper
construction of G. L. c. 90, § 24(1) (c0 (4), provides
for only a ten-year license suspension to be imposed on a
driver's first fatal drunk driving accident regardless of
whether that driver was previously convicted of OUI and that
a driver must have been involved in two separate OUIs with a
fatality before becoming subject to lifetime license
revocation. Second, he raises a number of arguments
challenging the application of § 24(1) (c) (4) in his