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Stiffer Penalties Proposed for Mass. Habitual Traffic Offenders

Massachusetts Registry News

Changes may be on the horizon for those determined to be habitual traffic offenders in Massachusetts. Last August, Senator Bruce E. Tarr (R) of Gloucester filed Senate Bill 2012, “An Act Promoting Motor Vehicle Safety.” A more appropriate title would have been “An Act to Substantially increase Habitual Traffic Offender penalties in Massachusetts.” Senator Tarr filed the bill in response to the death of a teenager who had been struck and killed by a driver who had his license suspended 16 times prior to the fatal accident.

Currently, habitual traffic offenders result in 4 year revocations, with the ability to apply for a hardship license, which is also known as a work or Cinderella License, after serving 1 year. HTO revocations are triggered convictions of 12 minor motor vehicle violations, such as speeding, or 3 major violations such as DUI, operating to endanger, leaving the scene of an accident, operating after suspension, unlicensed operation, and using a vehicle in the commission of a felony.

If passed, the new Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offender Law will require the Registry to revoke a Habitual Traffic Offender’s license for 5 years instead of 4 years. It will create a new “level 2” Habitual Traffic Offender category for those who were previously determined to be Habitual Traffic Offenders. The Registry of Motor Vehicles will revoke the license of a “level 2” Habitual Traffic Offender from at least 5 years up to 15 years.

Under the proposed bill, the RMV will have discretion to revoke the licenses of serious repeat Habitual Traffic Offenders for life.

Regardless of whether a Habitual Traffic Offender is classified as a level 1, 2, or 3, the new law will give Registry of Motor Vehicles the ability to impose reinstatement requirements such as the completion of courses, classes, a competency road test, or other reinstatement conditions.

This Bill has received strong support from both the House and Senate. It appears likely to pass.

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