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Reciprocity, not Double Jeopardy

Massachusetts Registry News

I recently received this inquiry regarding out of state license suspensions.

I am a Minnesota resident/driver. I was suspended in New Mexico for a year for a breath test refusal which is now clear/reinstated. My home state Minnesota revoked me for New Mexico, and Mass. has suspended me for both of those even though I haven’t lived there in 6 years. Isn’t that double jeopardy for Minnesota to refuse my license due to Massachusetts suspensions and mass to refuse due to Minnesota suspension?

The writer is confusing the concept of “double jeopardy” with reciprocity. The 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits “double jeopardy,” which means that a person cannot be punished twice for the same offense by the government. However, license revocations are remedial, administrative, and not punitive in nature. This is why, for example, a person can have his license suspended for a breathalyzer refusal and for being convicted of DUI, when both suspensions arise out of the same event.

The purpose of reciprocal license suspensions is to keep allegedly dangerous drivers off the roadways and the reciprocity law requires Massachusetts to observe license suspensions in other states by suspending drivers licensed here.

The writer will have to get clearance in both Minnesota and New Mexico. Upon presentation of proof of clearance, certified copies of his driving records from those states, and certified copies of the court dockets, the Registry will remove the NDR license suspensions from his Massachusetts driving record.

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