If you are the holder of a Massachusetts Driver’s License or you are a resident of Massachusetts, an out of state DUI or DWAI conviction will result in the suspension of your Massachusetts license. This is because General Laws c. 90, § 22(c), requires the Mass. Registrar of Motor Vehicles to give the same effect to out-of-state motor vehicle violations as if they had occurred in Massachusetts for the purpose of license revocation and suspension. The combination of the Massachusetts OUI Statute and G.L. c. 90, § 22(c), require the RMV to treat out-of-state convictions by way of guilty pleas for alcohol-impaired driving as drunk driving convictions under the OUI Statute for the purpose of license suspension.

The elements of the out of state drunk driving offense do not have to precisely match the elements of the offense in Massachusetts. Therefore, the RMV is legally entitled to treat substantially similar offenses as “like violations” which trigger Massachusetts license suspensions, regardless of the punishment imposed by the Motor Vehicle Department where the violation occurred. Also, under Massachusetts law, a plea of guilty or nolo contendere counts as a conviction, regardless of where or when the plea or conviction entered.

For example, the Mass. RMV suspended Joseph Bellino’s Massachusetts driver’s license in 1992 pursuant to G.L. c. 90, § 24D, the first offender law,  for operating while under the influence of alcohol. In 1996, Bellino was convicted in New York of driving while ability impaired.  Bellino appealed his license suspension, arguing that the Registry had no legal authority to suspend his license in Massachusetts for the New York DWAI conviction, counting it as a second offense. The Superior Court ruled that the Registrar properly suspended Bellino’s license for an additional period of two years, pursuant to G.L. c. 90, §§ 22(c) and 24(1)(c)(2), after counting the New York DWAI conviction as a second OUI offense.

If you are faced with an out of state DUI incident, you or your out of state lawyer should contact a Massachusetts lawyer who is familiar with the workings of the Mass. RMV for advice regarding the consequences which you will face in Massachusetts. In some cases, it is possible to get out of state suspensions reduced or eliminated.