Driving On a Suspended or Revoked License in Massachusetts

Criminal charges for operating a vehicle during a license suspension or revocation.

By , Attorney

Your Massachusetts driver's license can be suspended or revoked for reasons as varied as littering, driving under the influence, and having an outstanding warrant. Whether your license has been suspended or revoked, operating a vehicle when you're prohibited from doing so can lead to criminal charges and serious penalties.

Reasons for Suspension or Revocation

Although there are lots of reasons you might face license suspension or revocation, here are some of the more common:

  • being convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • refusing to take an alcohol test in violation of the state's implied consent laws
  • 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.

Drivers who the state deems "habitual offenders" face license revocation for up to four years. A driver can receive this designation by incurring a specified number of convictions within a certain period of time. For example, you may be deemed a habitual offender if you have three or more convictions within five years for:

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 caught littering (just seven days of suspension, maximum), or
  • are a sex offender who failed to register.

But this is just a sample of the circumstances that can lead to loss of driving privileges. The state may suspend or revoke your license for other reasons as well.

Reinstating Your License

After your suspension or revocation period expires, you may be required to pay fees or meet other obligations before you'll be able to drive again. Reinstatement fees typically range from about $100 to $1,200.

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 will depend on the reason you lost your driving privileges in the first place and whether you have prior convictions.

For some of the least serious offenses, a first conviction carries up to 10 days in jail and a fine of $500 to $1,000. For subsequent offenses of this type, convicted drivers are looking at 60 days to a year in jail and $500 to $1,000 in fines.

If your license was revoked because the state found you to be a habitual traffic offender, a conviction carries fines of $500 to $5,000 and a maximum two years behind bars.

In addition to fines and jail time, your driver's license could be revoked or suspended for a further period of time.

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. A conviction can result in serious penalties. An experienced attorney can help you understand how the law applies to the facts of your case and advise you on the best course of action.

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