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What You Need to Know About Massachusetts Motor Vehicle License Suspensions

In Massachusetts, it is a serious offense to operate a motor vehicle after one’s license has been suspended.  However, what people may not be aware of is the different ways that your license or right to drive can be taken away, how long it will be suspended for and what fees you will be required to pay to the Massachusetts Registry, once you have taken steps to have your license reinstated.

The most evident reasons for license suspensions are for serious criminal offenses.  For example, a person convicted of motor vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter, will have his or her license suspended for at least fifteen (15) years and, depending on the persons’ record, it could potentially be taken for life.

A license can also be suspended for one (1) to three (3) years if a person is convicted of stealing a motor vehicle, another serious criminal offense. The punishment for driving negligently so as to endanger is a license suspension of 60 days up to one year.  If a person is convicted of leaving the scene of an accident where there is property damage, a license can be suspended for 60 days and up to a year as well.  If there are injuries and a person leaves the scene of the crime, the punishment is even more severe, with suspension ranging from one (1) to two (2) years.  For all of the previous offenses, the reinstatement fee is $500.00 in addition to periods of suspension, which must be served unless the driver is given a hardship license or a suspension reduction by the Board of Appeal for the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Except when a case is resolved under G.L. c. 90 § 24D, the offense of driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol will result in the suspension of a license for at least one (1) year with the possibility of it being suspended for life, and it will cost up to $1,200.00 for the license to be reinstated.  In order to get reinstated on an OUI charge in Massachusetts, it will be necessary to personally appear before a Registry Hearings Officer.

In addition to serious criminal offenses, licenses can be suspended if certain criteria are met over a period of time.  For instance, a license can be suspended if a driver commits three (3) speeding violations during the course of any 12 month period.  If this is the case, the license will be suspended for 30 days and the driver will be required to pay a fee of $100.00 for reinstatement of the license.

When a certain number of infractions or at fault accidents, known as “surchargeable events” occur over the course of statutorily established time periods, a person’s license could be suspended indefinitely unless a driver retaining course is completed within 90 days, in addition to the payment of a mandatory $100.00 reinstatement fee.

With respect to some suspensions, the RMV is also afforded a great deal of latitude and discretion regarding the taking of someone’s license. For example, the RMV could suspend a driver’s license if it is determined that the driver should not be permitted on the road because they pose an immediate threat to the public safety, or if the Registry has a legitimate reason to believe that a person has improperly driven a motor vehicle.

A driver that is deemed as a habitual traffic offender, based on an accumulation of violations over any rolling 5 year period, will have his or her license revoked for four (4) years with the requirement of a $500.00 reinstatement fee.  These offenses are not strictly limited to Massachusetts either; if a Mass. licensed driver were to have his or her license suspended or revoked in a different state or jurisdiction, his or her Massachusetts license will be revoked reciprocally until the suspension in the other state is lifted, and there will be a $100.00 reinstatement fee. Also, the out of state violation will count towards any potential habitual traffic offender revocation.

If you believe that your license or right to drive has been unjustifiably revoked or suspended, please contact our office at 617-367-0450 or via email through our website for a free initial consultation. Attorney Murphy is an experienced criminal defense attorney who can provide expert legal representation.