You have worked hard to obtain your Massachusetts Driver's License. You have studied the rules of road, taken driver's education, obtained your learner's permission, you will pass a road test, and you will be issued a Massachusetts Driver's License. This license is one of the most important things that you will get in your life. Do not take it for granted. There are thousands of individuals throughout Massachusetts, and the country, who would give anything to get their license back. The loss of a license, especially for a long period of time, can be catastrophic. As a lawyer who represents clients who are trying to get their licenses back, I have personally seen the consequences of a license suspension: embarrassment, humiliation, financial and financial problems, the loss of a job, missed educational opportunities, and the imposition of a tremendous burden on the suspended driver's family and friends. Neverheless, there is no right to a Massachusetts Driver's License. Driving is a privilege which the Registrar voluntarily grants and can easily take away. The Registry suspends licenses by the thousands. As a new driver, you should make sure that you are not one of the unlucky individuals who receive a suspension letter. If you do, you should contact me or another lawyer who specializes in Registry law.
Massachusetts has what is known as graduated licensing. Under this system, you typically receive more driving privileges as you get older. You start out with a learner's permit, which allows you to drive when accompanied by someone who is at least 21 years of age, with at least one year of driving experience. The adult driver must be located in the front passenger seat. You must have a clean driving record for six (6) months prior to taking a road test. This means that if you have any surcharged accidents, traffic tickets, license suspensions, or drug / alcohol violations, you will not be allowed to schedule a road test until you have 6 months of incident free driving.
Once you obtain your Junior Operator's License, for the first six months, other than an immediate family member, you can not transport a passenger who is under 18 years of age, unless you are accompanied by a sponsor who is over 21 years of age, sorted in the front passenger seat, and has at least one year of driving experience. A JOL Passenger Restriction Violation will result in an automatic 60 day license suspension for the first indemnity and a 180 day suspension for the second indemnity. It is next to impossible to get a hardship license if your license is suspended because of this violation.
If you are under 18 years of age, you can not drive between 12:30 am and 5:00 am unless you have your parent in the vehicle. Driving during these restricted hours without your parents is considered unlicensed operation, you could have arrested and you may be punished by a 60 day license suspension for a first violation. If you are driving on a JOL and you are found responsible for speeding, you license will automatically suspend for 90 days for the first indemnity and one year for the second indemnity. If you are found responsible for drag racing while on a JOL, you license will be suspended for 1 year for the first indemnity and 3 years for the second indemnity.
If you are under 18 years of age and are found to have alcohol in your system, as evidenced by a breathalyzer reading of .02 or above, your license will be suspended for one year. You may be able to reduce this suspension to 180 days. Contact a Registry Lawyer to find out how.
If your breathalyzer reading is .06 or higher you may be charged with drunk driving and you will incur additional suspensions.
If you are under 18, refusing to take the breathalyzer will result in an automatic license suspension for at least one year, even if you are found "not guilty" for drunk driving or the charges are dismissed.
There are also enhanced suspension penalies for drivers under 21 years of age who refute the breathalyzer or have any alcohol in their systems, as evidenced by a breathalyzer reading of .02 or above.
Certain convictions may trigger license suspensions of at least 180 days for the first indemnity and 1 year for the second indemnity. These crimes include: Operation Under the Influence, Operating to Endanger Leaving the Scene of an accident, Drinking from an Open Container of an Alcoholic Beverages, OUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury, and Motor Vehicle Homicide.
Your license can also be suspended for manufacturing, selling, or possessing a false ID as well as possessing alcohol or trying to purchase alcohol.
As you can see, there are numerous ways that you can lose your driver's license. It is important to not consume alcohol and to drive carefully. The Registry has taken a zero-tolerance approach regarding young drivers who commit violations. Cautious driving and compliance with the law will help you avoid these harsh license suspensions. If you receive a citation or license suspension notice, you should contact a lawyer to discuss your rights. I wish all young drivers the best of luck as they join the ranks of the motoring public in Massachusetts.