Driving On a Suspended or Revoked License in Massachusetts

Your Massachusetts driver’s license may be suspended or revoked for reasons as varied as littering, driving under the influence, and having an outstanding warrant. Whether suspended or revoked, you should not drive when your license is not valid. If you drive on a suspended or revoked license, you risk being charged with a crime.

Reasons for Suspension or Revocation

Your license may be suspended or revoked for many reasons, including alcohol-related offenses such as driving under the influence. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 24.) It may also be suspended if:

  • you violate a vehicle law seriously enough that the state believes you are a threat to public safety
  • a health care provider or law enforcement officer reports that you are not physically or medically capable of driving safely
  • you make or use a false driver’s license, or
  • you fail to pay a judgment against you for injury or property damage relating to the use of a vehicle (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 22(a), § 22I(b), § 24B.90, § 22A.)

Your license may be revoked for up to four years if you are deemed a habitual offender. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 22F.) You may be deemed a habitual traffic offender if you incur a specified number of convictions within a certain period of time (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 22F.) For example, you may be deemed a habitual offender if you have three or more convictions within five years for:

  • operating under the influence
  • reckless driving
  • leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage or injury
  • operating a vehicle after suspension or revocation, or
  • certain other convictions. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, §  22F.)

In certain circumstances, your license may be suspended up to seven days for littering. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, §  22G.)

Your license may be suspended or revoked for reasons unrelated to driving. For example, it may be suspended if you:

  • are delinquent on child support payments
  • have an outstanding warrant
  • are a sex offender who failed to register (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 22(g), § 22(i), § 22(j).)

The state may suspend or revoke your license for other reasons as well.                      

Reinstating Your License

You should not drive while your license is suspended or revoked. After your suspension or revocation period expires, you may be required to pay a reinstatement fee, pay other fees, or fulfill other conditions before your license is valid again.

Your reinstatement fee may depend on the reason your license was suspended or revoked:

  • In some situations, the fee is $100. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 33(36).)
  • Under certain conditions, such as if your license was revoked because you are a habitual offender or due to a conviction for a false driver’s license, you may be charged $500. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 33(36).)
  • Under other conditions, such as if your license was revoked for certain alcohol-related offenses, the reinstatement fee may be $700 or $1,200. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 33(36).)

Charges for Operating on a Suspended or Revoked License

If you are charged with and convicted of operating on a suspended or revoked license, your sentence may depend on the reason you lost your driving privileges and whether you have previous convictions.

For a first offense, your sentence may involve a maximum of 10 days in jail and a fine between $500 and $1,000. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 23.) For a subsequent offense, your sentence may involve a jail sentence between 60 days and one year. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 23.)

If your license was revoked because the state found you to be a habitual traffic offender, your sentence may involve a fine between $500 and $5,000, plus imprisonment for a maximum of two years. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 23.)

In some cases, the sentence may involve a fine between $1,000 and $10,000, and imprisonment between 60 days and 2.5 years. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, § 23.)

In addition, your driver’s license could be revoked or suspended for a further period of time. (Mass. Gen. laws ch. 90, §  23.)

Legal Help for Charges of Operating after Suspension or Revocation

Consider speaking with an attorney if you are charged with operating a vehicle while your license is suspended or revoked. Massachusetts considers this offense to be serious, and as a result the consequences can be severe. You may be subject to fines, jail time, or further suspensions if you are convicted. Your ability to keep a job, to continue attending school, to obtain or retain insurance may be affected. While the law provides penalties for the crime, your sentence will be shaped by the attitude that your prosecutor, judge, and community have toward operating a vehicle after suspension or revocation. Only a lawyer who is familiar with these charges in your community will be able to provide you with that information.

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