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Operating After Suspension or Revocation of License

When a person loses their driving privileges, the law assumes that the person understands that they are no longer permitted to operate a motor vehicle unlicensed on a roadway in Massachusetts, thus the licensee must refrain from driving until the Registry of Motor Vehicles restores the person’s driving privileges. A person who continues to drive with a suspended or revoked license is therefore, in violation of the law. In Massachusetts, M.G.L. c. 90, § 23 makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle after your license has been suspended or revoked. Often, a person's license is considered to be suspended from the time the suspension is imposed, even though the period of suspension may not officially begin until a later date. In order to be convicted, however, a person must have been given written notice from the Registry of Motor Vehicles that their right to drive or operate a motor vehicle has been suspended or revoked. A Massachusetts motor vehicle crimes defense lawyer can be instrumental in defending and winning such cases, especially with the new rules in place that require officials from the Registry of Motor Vehicles to appear in court to testify regarding their documentation and notice requirements.

Penalties for Convicted Offenders

As defined in M.G.L. c. 90, § 23, any individual who is found operating a motor vehicle after his license to operate has been suspended or revoked, or after notice of the suspension or revocation has been issued by the registrar and received by the person or his agent, and prior to the restoration of driving privileges or the issuance to him of a new license to operate shall be in violation of this law. In addition, any individual found operating, causing, or permitting any other person to operate a motor vehicle after the certificate of registration has been suspended or revoked and prior to the restoration of such registration or to the issuance of a new certificate of registration for such vehicle shall also be in violation of this law. A first offense conviction shall result in the following penalties:

  • A fine ranging from $500-$1,000, or
  • Imprisonment for no more than 10 days, or
  • Both fine and imprisonment.

Please note: Many lawyers and judges are not aware that if a person has not previously received a continuance without a finding (CWOF) on a charge of operating of a motor vehicle on a suspended or revoked license in Massachusetts, a defendant is actually allowed to receive a disposition involving just a fine of not more that $500. This fact in the law is listed in the statute but not put on the complaint forms in most courts so you need a lawyer that will fight for this disposition in the appropriate circumstance.

A conviction for a second or subsequent offense under this law shall be punishable by the following:

  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment for 60 days (no more than 1 year)

By the authority of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, upon conviction for operating after suspension or revocation of license, the registrar shall extend the original length of suspension or revocation for an additional 60 days. Upon conviction for operating after suspension or revocation of license the registrar shall extend said suspension or revocation for an additional year.

In order to prove the defendant guilty of this offense, the Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. At the time the defendant was operating a motor vehicle his or her driving privileges had been revoked; and
  3. The defendant or an agent of the defendant had received notice that his or her driving privileges had been or were about to be suspended or revoked.
Operating After Suspension/Revocation of Driving Privileges Due to Alcohol Related Offenses

If the offender’s driver’s license was suspended or revoked for alcohol-related offenses such as Operating Under the Influence, the offender is also punishable under M.G.L. c. 90, § 23. A convicted offender under this section shall be subject to the following punishments:

  • A fine of not less than $1,000-$10,000 and
  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment in a house of correction for 60 days, but no more than 2.5 years.

In order to prove the defendant guilty of this offense, the Commonwealth must prove four things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. At the time the defendant was operating a motor vehicle his or her driving privileges had been revoked,
  3. The defendant had lost his or her license due to an alcohol-related violation; and
  4. The defendant had received notice that his or her driving privileges had been or were about to be revoked.
Meticulous Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crimes Defense Attorney

Massachusetts authorities like to remind citizens that driving is a privilege and not a right. If you have had your driving privileges suspended or revoked for any reason and have been cited for operating a motor vehicle after suspension or revocation, it is highly recommended that you seek an experienced Boston, Massachusetts criminal defense attorney to defend your rights and freedoms. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has been practicing criminal defense law in Massachusetts for nearly two decades, and thanks to his dedication and expertise, he has successfully acquired favorable outcomes or acquittals for his clients accused of violating Massachusetts motor vehicle statutes. Put Attorney Murphy’s legal expertise to work for you by calling (617) 367-0450 or completing the contacts tab on our website. As a dedicated legal advocate, Attorney Murphy is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer you a free and confidential legal assessment of your case.

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