Massachusetts prohibits driving without a valid license, whether revoked, suspended, or never issued. This article explains what constitutes these violations, the possible penalties, and the exemptions to the license requirement.
Generally, all motor vehicle operators on Massachusetts highways must carry a valid license while driving.
For persons who have never been issued a license and get caught driving, the fine is up to $500 for a first offense. A second offense carries a fine of $500 to $1,000 and any subsequent offense results in a fine of $1,000 to $2,000.
All Massachusetts drivers must possess and display upon the request of an officer a valid driver's license. Forgetting your license at home isn't as serious of an offense as driving without a valid license. However, a driver who doesn't have a driver's license in his or her immediate possession can be fined up to $35.
There are a few exceptions to Massachusetts's licensing laws. Generally, non-resident drivers (including military and their family members) with valid driver's licenses from their home state or country can drive in Massachusetts without an in-state license.
However, there are certain limitations that apply to the license exemptions. One of these limitations is age—no person under 16 years old can operate a vehicle in Massachusetts, regardless of the rules in the driver's home state. Also, if you move to Massachusetts (in other words, become a resident of the state), you need to get an in-state license.
A person who operates a vehicle while on a suspended or revoked license is subject to varying penalties depending on the reason for the suspension and the number of prior offenses.
Driving while suspended or revoked will result in a fine of $500 to $1,000 and/or up to ten days in jail. The jail time is increased to 60 days to one year in jail for a second offense. The driver's license suspension or revocation will also be extended for an additional 60 days.
If the accused has no prior violations and was not suspended for a substance-related offense, the court can issue a "Continuance Without a Finding." This resolution allows the driver to avoid a conviction but results in a fine of up to $500.
A violator whose license was suspended due to an impaired driving incident will be subject to increased penalties. A first conviction will result in a $1,000 to $10,000 fine and 60 days to two-and-a-half years in jail. The driver's license suspension or revocation will also be extended for an additional year.
A person who drives under the influence with a suspended license will be subject to a $2,500 to $10,000 fine and one to two-and-a-half years in jail. Both the fine and jail time are mandatory and a minimum of one year must be served before release. Additionally, the driver's license can be suspended or revoked for up to eight years.
Obtaining three convictions for OUI, driving while suspended, or driving without a license in a five-year period will result in the convicted person being deemed a "habitual violator." A habitual violator will have his or her license revoked for at least four years and be subject to increased penalties for future violations.