Driving Without a License in Massachusetts

What does it mean to drive while your license is expired, revoked, suspended or cancelled?

What does it mean to “drive without a license” in Massachusetts?

Driving without a license can refer to three scenarios. You’re stopped for an offense and:

  • You have a license but it’s not in your possession. In other words, you were licensed to drive but lacked proof, an infraction that may be dismissed once you can prove that you possessed a valid license at the time of the incident. (Note: you may have to pay a fine.)
  • You never applied for a license (or your license expired). Massachusetts Code Section Ch. 90 § 10 requires every driver have a valid license. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $500.
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This offense is punishable by a fine of $500 to 1,000 fine and up to 10 days jail time. In addition, any suspension will be extended. Massachusetts Code Ch. 90; §23

Who doesn’t have to have a valid Massachusetts driver’s license?

Massachusetts exempts certain persons from the licensing requirement as set forth in Code Section Ch. 90 § 10:

  • If you have a valid Massachusetts learner’s permit;
  • If you are a nonresident licensed in your own state or country and if that jurisdiction reciprocates with Massachusetts ;
  • If you are an active member of the armed forces and are licensed in the state where you are from;
  • If you are licensed in another state or country and have applied for a Massachusetts license but are waiting to take the driver’s test and you have a 60 day temporary permit;
  • You are licensed in another state and are the spouse of a member of the armed forces whom your accompanying on assignment to Massachusetts;
  • You are a member of the armed forces having returned from duty outside of this country within 45 days; and
  • You are a nonresident licensed where the vehicle is registered.

How do you fight the charge?

Fighting a “driving without a license charge” can be difficult. Once the district attorney or prosecutor alleges that you drove without a valid license, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you did possess a valid driver’s license at the time of your offense. If you don’t evidence of a license, you lose! Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from the advice or negotiating skills of an attorney.

Can an undocumented immigrant obtain a driver’s license in Massachusetts?

An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in Massachusetts.  



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