A person is habitual traffic offender in Massachusetts when the Registry’s records show that he or she has accumulated convictions for any combination of 3 major and/or 12 minor traffic violations in any rolling 5 year period. For the purposes of determining who is a habitual traffic offender, major violations are OUI, which is also known as driving under the influence, DUI, Operating Under the Influence, or driving while intoxicated, DWI, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, which is also known as reckless driving, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, which is also known as operating so as to endanger, making a false statement on a RMV document such as a learner’s permit, license, or registration application, leaving the scene of a property damage or personal injury accident, operating after suspension, driving without a valid license, and using a motor vehicle in the commission of any felony. Under the habitual traffic offender law, minor violations include speeding, failure to stay within marked lanes, failure to stop for a red light or stop sign, and other similar traffic offenses which the Registry of Motor Vehicles has determined constitute a threat to the public safety.
Out of state DUI convictions and convictions of motor vehicle violations will be treated as if they had occurred in Massachusetts, for the purposes of determining who is a habitual traffic offender. Also, the payment of a traffic ticket or fine is considered an admission of guilt, for the purposes of the Habitual Traffic Offender Law.
The Registry will immediately revoke a driver’s license when the driver is classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender. The revocation will remain in place for a period of four (4) years. Fortunately, however, those who have been declared habitual traffic offender and lost their licenses have the ability to be considered for a 12 hour hardship license. This limited license is designed to allow the habitual traffic offender to drive to work, school, and/or medical appointments. However, once a hardship license is granted, either by the Registry or the Board of Appeal, the licensee can drive anywhere.
The Registry holds hardship license applicants to a strict one (1) year waiting period, meaning that the driver must serve 1 year of the 4 year revocation. In some rare cases, the Board of Appeal may consider a driver for a HTO hardship license sooner than 1 year after the 4 year license revocation commenced. If your license has been revoked under the Mass. Habitual Traffic Offender Law, a Registry attorney may be able to assist you in obtaining a hardship license. Since hardship licenses are not automatically granted, it is usually advisable to hire a lawyer.
Habitual traffic offenders should be aware that accumulating new violations during any 5 year HTO period will trigger additional 4 year HTO revocations.