Massachusetts State Sen. Eric P. Lesser (D) Longmeadow, has filed a bill that would change the way the Registry of Motor Vehicles processes out-of-state convictions. Senator Lesser’s Bill, titled An Act to Promote a Fair and Informative RMV, will require the Registry to act more promptly when informed of an out-of-state automobile law violation committed by a Massachusetts license holder.
Since the tragic deaths of the 7 motorcyclists in New Hampshire, which was allegedly caused by Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, the Registry has suspended hundreds, if not thousands, of driver’s licenses for out-of-state violations such as DUI, negligent operation, reckless driving, and careless driving.
Some of the suspensions are valid while others are completely erroneous and legally invalid. The current law, G.L. c. 90 § 22(c) allows the Registry to penalize Massachusetts residents or license holders for out-of-state violations no matter when or where the violation occurred. There is no “statute of limitations” when it comes to these out-of-state motor vehicle violations.
The proposed legislation would require the Registry to act within thirty days of notification and it will have the discretion to not penalize the Massachusetts driver for out-of-state offenses such as speeding, reckless driving, or careless driving. Massachusetts drivers who commit minor offenses such as speeding in Virginia or New Jersey face surprise 60-day reckless driving or careless driving suspensions here in Massachusetts. This legislation would likely prevent those suspensions.
Mass. Residents and license holders who are convicted of drunk driving in other states would still have their licenses suspended in Massachusetts in addition to the penalties imposed in the state where the DUI occurred.
If passed, this bill would help alleviate the enormous backlog of cases at the Division of Insurance, Board of Appeal. That agency is granted the legal authority to overrule license suspensions imposed by MassDOT and it has been absolutely inundated with appeals and hardship license requests.
Senator Lesser serves as the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation and he has been a staunch advocate for reform at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. He has been successful in getting the Registry to make improvements in the out-of-state suspension process and this Bill will dramatically enhance those improvements.
Senator Lesser filed the Bill on February 19, 2021, and it has to work its way through the legislative process, which will take several months at the earliest.