I have received several inquires regarding how long the Registry maintains driving records, how long certain offenses such as DUI stay on a driving record in Massachusetts, and whether the RMV would have a record of an operating under the influence conviction from 20 some odd years ago. The Registry used to have a 6 year lookback period when calculating drunk driving license suspensions. This was replaced with a 10 year lookback period and with the enactment of Melanie’s Law, the Massachusetts Legislature eventually eliminated all limitations on lookback periods. Now, with the elimination of lookback limitations, any DUI conviction anywhere in the word at anytime will count against you when it comes to determining the length of your OUI license suspension. Therefore, the Registry maintains records of DUI convictions forever. Old drunk driving cases never drop off your record in Massachusetts and even if you have your criminal OUI case sealed or expunged, the Registry is entitled to maintain unsealed OUI conviction records which are publicly accessible under the Lacey Packer Law. The Massachusetts Sealing Laws only require the Commissioner of Probation to seal his records. They do not require that the Registrar of Motor Vehicles seal her records.
The chances of the Registry of Motor Vehicles having a record of even a 20 or 30 year old OUI conviction are actually pretty good. The RMV does an excellent job of maintaining records in various forms including electronic computer accessible records and other official records which are in paper form or contained on microfilm. Registry hearings officers can use all of these records to calculate the length of a license suspension. Also, DUI offenses are recorded on citations which the Registry can access and hearings officers can also access court and probation records. Clerk-Magistrates are required to notify the Registry of any DUI convictions and the Registry can use these notifications to add DUI convictions to a driver’s permanent record. MassDOT hearings officers are also allowed to use these records to impose license suspensions of varying lengths, such as 2 year suspensions for 2nd offenders, 8 year revocations for 3rd offenders, 10 year license revocations for 4th offenders, and permanent license revocations for anyone convicted of 5 or more drunk driving offenses. When official records reflect a continuance without a finding (CWOF) , which is followed by a drug or alcohol program assignment, this offense is considered a conviction for license suspension purposes.
Also, Massachusetts Driving Records contain more than convictions. Any motor vehicle citation you receive for an automobile law violation will appear on your driving record. Also, breathalyzer refusals and breath test failures will also be listed on your driver history. Your Massachusetts record may also contain out of state drunk driving violations.
Some other states have lookback periods of varying lengths such as 5 or 10 years. However, these are not applicable in Massachusetts, even if the DUI offense occurred out of state. If the RMV receives information regarding any out of state OUI convictions, they will be added to your permanent record in Massachusetts and there is no purging or sealing of driving records in Massachusetts.
Finally, since the RMV maintains permanent driving records, any indefinite holds or blocks from Massachusetts which appear in the National Driver Register will be maintained until they are cleared. This means that NDR blocks which originate from Massachusetts do not disappear after any certain amount of time, unless the underlying suspension or revocation is cleared with the Mass. RMV.