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.
Driving without a valid license. 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.
License not in possession. All Massachusetts drivers must possess and display upon the request of an officer a valid driver's license. A driver who does not have a driver's license in his or her immediate possession will be subject to a fine of up to $35.
Exceptions. Non-resident drivers, including military and families, with valid driver's licenses from their home state or country can drive in Massachusetts without an in-state license, subject to certain limitations. However, no person under 16 years old can operate a vehicle in Massachusetts.
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. 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.
Suspended for OUI. 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.
OUI while suspended. 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.
Habitual violator. 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.