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Suspended License Information for Massachusetts
While some motorists regard driving as a basic right, the fact is that operating a motor vehicle is a privilege that must be earned and maintained by demonstrating safe and lawful driving. Under certain circumstances, an individual's Massachusetts driver's license may be suspended or revoked for a specific length of time, depending on the person's driving record or history, and the particular violation(s).
REASONS FOR DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS
There are a variety of reasons why your Massachusetts driver's license might be suspended. Some of these are related to specific driving violations, while others may be due to violation of other State laws. Following are some of the most common reasons for a Massachusetts driver's license to be suspended or revoked.
- Excessive Moving Violations. The state of Massachusetts operates on a surcharge point system, in which drivers accumulate points on their license for every moving violation they commit. If you accumulate 3 speeding violations within 12 months, your license will be automatically suspended for a month. If you accumulate 7 surchargeable points within a three year period your license will be automatically suspended for two months.
- Driving Under the Influence. Your Massachusetts driver's license will be suspended if you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The length of the suspension depends on the severity of the violation and whether it is a first or repeat offense. Your license can be suspended for a period of one year to life if you are found guilty of this.
- Driving with a Suspended License or no License. Driving with a suspended license will lead to an increase in the length of the suspension, and you may also be imprisoned for up to five years. The duration of the additional suspension varies depending on the reason for the underlying suspension. Your driver's license may also be suspended if you do not have your license with you while you are driving.
- Driving without Insurance. All motor vehicles driven in Massachusetts must be properly insured. Failure to provide proof of valid auto insurance can result in your license being suspended.
- Other Driving-Related Violations. Your Massachusetts driver's license may also be suspended if you engage in reckless driving, are found to be at fault in a fatal accident, or if you abandon your vehicle on a public highway.
- Physical or Psychological Disqualification. The Registry of Motor Vehicles can order a re-examination of any person who may not be fit to drive. An individual's driving privileges may be suspended if the re-examination finds they are physically or psychologically unable to drive safely.
- Non-Driving Reasons for License Suspension. A variety of non-driving violations or issues can result in your license being suspended. These include: not responding to a Registry of Motor Vehicles notice or not appearing in court; failing to pay traffic tickets, fines or surcharges; and not paying child support. Other reasons include using false identification, not registering as a sex offender and not appearing when there is an arrest warrant.
- License suspensions for Teens. Teenage drivers can also have their licenses suspended if they do not drive safely. More information on this kind of suspension is found here.
- Automatic Suspension. Automatic suspension occurs when a driver has three speeding violations in one year (the suspension period is one year and the reinstatement fine is $100); or a conviction or revocation in another state (your license will be suspended till the suspension is lifted in that state and the reinstatement fee is $100).
- Criminal Suspensions. These include caught stealing a motor vehicle (3 years), leaving the scene of an accident without giving aid, and there are injuries involved (1-2 years), found guilty of homicide involving a motor vehicle or of vehicular manslaughter (15 years to a lifetime suspension), convicted of driving to endanger (two months to a year).
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR MASSACHUSETTS DRIVER'S LICENSE IS SUSPENDED
Having your Massachusetts driver's license suspended is a serious matter and it is essential to adhere to State law in the event that your license is suspended. If you believe your license may be suspended due to one of the reasons listed above it is advisable to speak with a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer.
The most important things to be aware of following a license suspension are:
- If your license has not already been taken away from you in court, you must surrender it to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. You can surrender your license in person at a RMV branch office.
- While your license is suspended, you are not permitted to drive. If you are found driving with a suspended license, you may be imprisoned for up to five years, and/or the length of your suspension may be increased.
- After your suspension is over, you will receive a written notice of restoration, with instructions on how to restore your license. Do not drive until you have completed the necessary steps and received a valid, replacement license from the Massachusetts RMV.
- You can also apply for a hardship license. There are different types of hardship license. The following criteria should be made note of before applying:
HTO Hardship Criteria
If you are found eligible such a license you will have to pay the standard reinstatement fees which can range from $100 to $1200 depending on the offense.
APPEALING A SUSPENSION
If you receive a notice of suspension from the RMV, and you wish to challenge the suspension, you may request a hearing in court. An administrative law judge or the RMV representative will hear your case, and determine whether your driver's license should be suspended or not. In addition, drivers whose license may be suspended due to accumulating excessive points may be eligible to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program. Completing a Driver Improvement Program may remove points from the current driving record, and in some cases can enable an individual to avoid having his license suspended.
RESTORING YOUR LICENSE
You will receive a notice from the RMV after you have completed your suspension period. The notice will include complete instructions regarding how to get your license back. You may need to appear for a hearing at the Boston RMV office to reinstate your license. You can find out if you need to appear by calling (617) 351-7200. Generally, you will need to:
- Pay a restoration fee which can range from $100 to $1200 depending on the offense. The fee can be paid in person at a RMV branch office. You can also mail a check or money order payable to RMV at:
Registry of Motor Vehicles
PO Box 55896
Boston, MA 02205-5896
- Apply for a standard license renewal to obtain a new license.
Note that after your license is restored, you may be subject to a probation period of one year, during which any new violations may result in an additional suspension of your Massachusetts driver's license.