Massachusetts residents or license holders who pick up out of state DUI charges often have a difficult time understanding the connection between the states and how the out of state DUI will impact their ability to drive in Massachusetts. There are many misconceptions regarding how the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will treat an out of state DUI.

Mass. license suspensions triggered by out of state revocations may result from the Lacey Packer Law, which was enactesd in 1990. Lacey was killed by a drunk driver who was operating on a New Hampshire license while his license and right to drive was suspended here in Massachusetts because of a DUI conviction. The law led to greater sharing of information between states and for increased public to criminal records maintained by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

How an out of state DUI will impact your Massachusetts Driver’s License depends on the state where you were charged and the outcome of the drunk driving case. The general rule is that when it comes to license suspensions and reinstatements, the Mass. RMV will treat out of state DUI offenses committed by Massachusetts residents or license holders as if they had occurred here in Massachusetts, for suspension and reinstatement purposes. Also, when the Mass. RMV is notified that someone’s license is suspended or revoked in another state, the Registry is required to give the revocation full faith and credit. This means that the Registry is legally required to honor out of state NDR (National Driver Register) revocations. Therefore, the Massachusetts RMV will indefinitely suspend or revoke a Massachusetts driver’s license and right to drive on the basis of an out-of-state conviction or suspension and not reinstate or restore a license here unless and until the person’s right to drive is clear in the state where the OUI or other license suspension originated.

As long as the out of state conviction report contains sufficient information for the Mass. RMV to identify the driver to whom the report pertains and the out-of-state offense of which the driver was convicted, the Driver Control Unit of the Registry may use it to initiate a suspension or revocation action.

A source of confusion involves the crime of driving while ability impaired or DWAI. In the State of New York, for example, driving while ability impaired is a lesser form of DUI. It is only a traffic infraction and not a misdemeanor or criminal offense. It carries a maximum fine of $500.00. Both New York’s DWAI offense and the Massachusetts DUI law punish impairment of the ability to drive to any degree and do not require “substantial” impairment to the degree that the person is rendered wholly incapable of safe driving. It has been judicially determined that an out of state DWAI offense is substantially similar to a Massachusetts OUI offense, such that the Registry can legally court DWAI offenses against a Massachusetts license holder for the purposes of suspension or revocation.

If you have questions regarding how an out of state DUI or DWAI will impact your Mass. license or right to drive in Massachusetts, contact an attorney for a free review of your situation and consultation.