Massachusetts RMV


Teenage Driving: Make Sure They Are Fully Prepared Before They Hit the Road!

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Teenage driving can be a frightening thought, especially in Massachusetts where we have a certain reputation with the rest of the country when it comes to our driving skills. However, a surprising statistic according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association showed that although deaths among 16 and 17 year old drivers were up 11% in the first half of 2011 when compared to the same time in 2010, Massachusetts is one of few states that saw no increase in deaths. http://www.wggb.com/2012/02/16/teen-driving-in-massachusetts/

Perhaps a related factor could be that more students in Massachusetts earned a Driver’s Education Certificate in 2011 than 2010, according to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Not only do these courses give young drivers the experience they need on the road to feel comfortable behind the wheel of the car, they also teach them basic driving facts such as at what speed the car will start to hydroplane, how far to stay behind a school bus, and many basic rules and regulations of the road. They show videos that illustrate the results of drunk driving, speeding, and reckless driving while also teaching students the legal and physical consequences of their actions behind the wheel. Teenagers under the age of 18 in Massachusetts are required to complete the course which involves 30 hours of classroom sessions, 12 hours of driving lessons and 6 hours of observations if they want their license.

This training gives teenagers the experience they need to build their confidence and knowledge before they start driving. Drivers under the age of 18 also have many more restrictions when it comes to operating a vehicle which can be found online at  the Massachusetts RMV http://www.mass.gov/rmv/jol/jol_penalties_chart.htm.  For even more information related to driving with teens check out our blog http://blog.massdrive.com/category/driving-with-kids/. When it comes to your teenager you can never be too careful, make sure they are fully prepared and have all of the resources they need before they start driving!

To be safe, make sure you have adequate auto insurance for teenagers. Call a MassDrive agent today to discuss the particulars of car insurance coverage for teenage drivers.

Twenty-Nine Texting & Driving Citations

A recent publication by the Massachusetts RMV suggests some Bay State drivers have yet to adjust to the new texting and driving ban. As of October 15th Massachusetts has served 29 citations regarding new regulations.

Mary Beth Heffernan, Public Safety Secretary, commented:

“Distracted driving is a serious threat to public safety. Cracking down on distracted drivers is imperative… We must reduce the threat posed by those who don’t give their undivided attention to the road while behind the wheel.”

Reinforcing Heffernan’s efforts here are a few things to remember before texting behind the wheel:

  • Drivers Less Than 18 Years of Age: Drivers younger than 18 years are not banned from using a cell phone while driving. If cited the teen driver can face a $100 – $500 fine, 90 day – 1 year suspension of license and/or required to complete a required attitudinal retraining course.
  • Drivers violating use of electronic device: Drivers of 18 years and older may face fines of $100 – $500.
  • Drivers with 3+ Surchargeable Citations: Drivers accruing 3+ surchargable citations in a two year time period may face suspension of license and required to complete a driver retraining course.

For more information on the texting and driving legislation please visit the RMV website.

New Driving Legislature Affecting You

The majority of Massachusetts drivers have at least heard about some new legislature that is to take effect this month, but many are still unaware of how it will affect them. New laws effective this month’s end will affect operators of all ages. Check out the following to keep yourself up-to-date and out-of-trouble:

Mobile Phone & Texting Law Effective September 30th 2010:

This new law prohibits drivers of all ages from using any kind of mobile electronic device to write, send, or read electronic messages including text messages, e-mails, instant messages and internet access. Those who disregard this new regulation will face:

  • 1st offense: $100 fine
  • 2nd offense: $250 fine
  • 3rd + offense: $500 fine

Drivers under 18 years of age are also prohibited by this law to make any use of a mobile electronic device for any reason while operating a vehicle. Massachusetts enforcement will only allow this use for reporting an emergency. Teen drivers violating this provision will face:

  • 1st offense: $100 fine & 60-day license suspension and a required attitudinal retraining course
  • 2nd offense:$250 fine & 180-day license suspension
  • 3rd offense: $500 fine & 1 year suspension of license

Operators of all ages may be fined for unsafe use of and impeded operation due to mobile devices. Additionally, drivers must keep one hand on the steering wheel at all times. If caught operating a vehicle with no hands on the wheel or distracted while due to a mobile device you will face the following fines:

  • 1st offense: $35 fine
  • 2nd offense (within 12 months): $75 fine
  • 3rd offense (within 12 months): $150 fine

Further than the previously listed offenses Massachusetts law constitutes personal injury and property damages caused by negligent operation a criminal offense. If you’re involved in an accident or crash as a result of using a mobile electronic device, you will face criminal charges and suspension of your licnese.

Three Surcharges & Suspension Legislature Effective September 30th:

When a driver accrues three surcharge-able violations in a two-year time period their license may face suspension. These qualifying surcharge-able events include moving violations and accidents. Once a third surcharge is incurred in that two-year window, the driver must complete a Driver Retraining Course within 90 days of the notification sent by the RMV.

In Person License Renewals for Those 75+ Years Effective September 30th:

Drivers 75 years of age and older as of September 30th will be required to renew their license in person at an RMV branch. The operator will need to successfully complete a vision test or resent a completed Vision Screening


For additional information on the new driving laws affecting  you please visit the Massachsuetts RMV website at: www.massdot.state.ma.us/rmv/.

MADD Honors Massachusetts Officers

Yesterday MADD Massachusetts honored more than 30 state troopers, 45 local police officers, five assistant district attorneys and 10 local police department for their commitment to enforcing drunk driving laws. The local police departments received the Drive for Life award for holding sobriety check points in 2010. The honorary breakfast speaker this year was Chris Doyle, a former Wilbraham  Police Officer. Doyle was seriously injured sustaining a traumatic brain injury among others while on duty August of 2006 when he was struck by a three-time offender at a construction roadblock. The combined efforts of this year’s honorees worked together making over 2,800 drunk driving arrests in 2009 averaging almost eight drunk driving arrests per day!

An article from the WNYT writes:

“Drunk driving is the most frequently committed violent crime in the United States, affecting three out of every 10 Americans. In Massachusetts, 124 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2008 representing 34% of all traffic fatalities in the Commonwealth.”

Taking the fight against drunk driving to another level the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles shares drunk driving statistics with the public. The RMV has also released that over 4,000 repeat drunk drivers have ignition interlock devices installed on the vehicle. Only 27 of the 1,600 repeat offenders who’ve already completed the interlock program have re-offended after the interlocks removal.

MADD is non-profit organization with more than 400 entities nationwide. MADD proclaims their mission is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking. The organization was founded in 1980 by two mothers who transformed their losses into a national movement putting a stop to drunk driving. MADD works to provide critical emotional support for survivors, family members and friends coping with the death of a loved one caused by a drunk driver.

MADD’s website claims in 2007 almost 13,000 people died in drunk driving crashes, representing 305 of all highway fatalities in the Commonwealth. Reiterating the fact found in the WNYT article above, MADD cites the National Highway Safety Administration to estimate during one’s life time three in ten people will be killed or injured by a drunk driver. Drunk driving is NOT something to take lightly, for more information on how to become involved with or seek help from MADD please visit their website at: www.maddmass.com.

Massachusetts Bridge & Road Construction

Potholes plague drivers across the United States creating an uncomfortable and bumpy commute for many. According to a report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group drivers spend an average $335 per year repairing pothole damages to their vehicles totaling $67 billion dollars throughout the nation. The Research Group published its results in Road Work Ahead – Holding Government Accountable for Fixing America’s Crumbling Roads and Bridges. The researchers found Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Montana and Nevada to be the state with best road conditions. The states with the nation’s worst roads were identified as Alaska, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Vermont and California.

Massachusetts will be working to repair roads and bridges as summer and construction season begins. The report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group discovered the average U.S. bridge 43 years old and about 185,000 of them are older than 50 years. Governor Deval Patrick has been pushing the Accelerated Bridge Program, an eight-year $3 billion project to improve bridge conditions across the Bay State. This Project will reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state system and create thousands of construction jobs on bridge projects across the state.

For many summer construction means delays and extended rush hours, however this does not need to be the case. For an update on construction projects across Massachusetts visit the Massachusetts RMV site. The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration website is another great source for traffic and construction updates.

Check Twice Save A Life – Motorcylists are Everywhere

As the snow melted and floods subsided, March’s beautiful weather lured motorcyclists out early this riding season, a drastic change from last year when many motorcyclists did not ride until July. As of last September 182,215 motorcycles were registered in Massachusetts, which may sound impressive until it’s placed side by side with the 4.3 million cars also registered.

Today marks the end of Motorcycle safety week as proclaimed by Governor Deval Patrick. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles sponsors the Mass Rider Education Program, providing training, materials, new Rider Coach training and promotional and technical assistance to a statewide network of training sites. Numerous motorcycle safety courses are available for beginners and advanced riders throughout Massachusetts. For more information on safety courses visit the motorcycle safety page of the Massachusetts RMV website.

Driving through many areas of Massachusetts it’s difficult to miss the yellow signs with black writing, “Check Twice, Save a Life. Motorcycles are everywhere.” Originally thought up by Bob Doiron in 1982 the stickers and signs have caught a wave of popularity across the state. Doiron, a founder of the  Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA), has now retired and transferred the rights of the “Check Twice” signs to Paul Cote of Amesbury, a fellow motorcycle activist. Both Doiron and Cote have fought for motorcyclist rights however above all, for their safety. Think to look twice before switching lanes or making a sharp turn, as the signs say – it may just save a life.

According to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, an accident with a motorcycle is more likely when:

  • Making a left turn in front of a rider.
  • A motorcyclist is riding in your blind spot.
  • There are hazardous road conditions such as potholes, wet leaves, railroad tracks, and other obstructions that may force a motorcyclist to ride in a way you would not otherwise predict.
  • You have an obstructed line of sight. Sport utility vehicles, delivery vans, and large trucks and those with cars too full of cargo may block motorcyclists from your view.

Teen Driving Fatalities Decrease Significantly!

Fatal accidents involving teenagers under 18 years of age has fallen 75% in the past three years after Massachusetts began implementing the Junior Operation License Law creating harsher penalties for younger drivers and making it more difficult to obtain a license. These added difficulties and punishments junior operators face have not only driven down fatalities, but speeding tickets as well. The number of speeding tickets young drivers under 18 has fallen almost 60% in the past three years. According to an article in The Boston Globe, the number of teens cited for seat-belt violations, passenger restrictions, and other offenses has fallen at a similar rate as the speeding ticket decrease.

These numbers are welcomed graciously as motor vehicle accidents is the number one killer of teens in the nation. According to the Massachusetts RMV website new drivers are four times more likely to be killed and 14 times more likely to be injured in an accident than any other group.  The tougher laws and testing are key efforts used to keep these high risk drivers from being involved in an accident, injured, or killed.

Massachusetts officials believe the decreasing fatalities may be accredited to the Junior Operator License Law passed in 2006 after a number of highly publicized fatalities involving junior operators or drivers under 18 years. The stricter laws took effect March 31st, 2007 increasing driver’s education requirements and penalties for violations junior operators.

A great example of just how firm these new laws are would be the consequences a junior operators experiences after their first speeding ticket. Under old legislation a young driver would be given a fine and slap on the wrist, however the newer 2006 legislation goes much further. Now a junior operator first time ticketed speeder will have his or her license suspended for 90 days. After a three month suspension the teenager must pay a $500 reinstatement fee, attend two four-hour training classes, and retake the state driver’s exam to regain a license. The newer laws have also doubled the time spent behind-the-wheel in driver’s education from six to twelve hours. It has also increased the supervised driving time from 12 to 40 hours teens must accumulate before seeking a license.

“As governor and as a parent I am happy to see that we are creating safer streets and better driving habits among our young drivers. Our number one priority is protecting the safety of the traveling public, and our successful implementation of the Junior Operator License Law is clearly reducing teen driver crashes and saving lives.’’

-Governor Deval Patrick

Patrick has earned bragging rights, from merely glancing over the decreasing number of tickets, violations and accidents involving junior operators since the new legislation. Massachusetts for years averaged two or more fatal accidents a month involving these young drivers, with over 79 in the three years prior to the new stricter legislation taking effect. The following year there were 20, the year after that 15, ans six over the last year. Speeding tickets were greatly reduced as well. The year prior to the Junior Operator License Law enactment, Massachusetts junior drivers received 10,127 tickets. This number has dropped drastically to 4,291 tickets from March 31, 2009 through March 30, 2010. Although it the consequences of young adult driving are harsh, our roads have been made a safer place.

VIP at the RMV

New Drivers & Drivers Transfering to a Massachusetts Licnese May Make Appointments Online and Avoid the RMV Wait
New Drivers & Those Transfering to a Massachusetts License Make Appointments Online Avoiding the RMV Wait

The mere idea of visiting the RMV is a dreary nightmare to many: taking a number, filling out paper work, waiting, and waiting… and waiting. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has recognized your impatience and frustration of visiting a branch in creating numerous opportunities for drivers to complete transactions and other. For a number of drivers who are still required to visit a branch, the RMV has made the visit an even less stressful process.

The registry is working on creating additional web functions for new drivers and new Massachusetts residents to set meeting times to process paperwork without the wait. The RMV tested a pilot program at its Springfield branch for the past few  months, and with its success will now make the service available statewide. During the pilot a total of 89 customers scheduled appointments.

The Massachusetts RMV website mass.gov/rmv holds an interactive guide that will walk applicants through the process and notify the driver of required documents that will be needed at the meeting to verify identity and residency.

Reduced RMV Lines!

The PatrickMurray Administration has moved forward in an effort to make transportation agencies more accountable and strengthen customer service. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) introduced two new RMV initiatives this month that will encourage saving time for driver’s visits to the RMV to cancel a vehicle registration.

An average of 45,000 customers visit an RMV branch to cancel their vehicle registration a month. Prior to the new implementations drivers would have to wait in line at a branch to turn in their plates and receive a proof of cancellation. Today massDOT posted two additional options to cancel a vehicle’s registration:

  • Option 1: Visit the RMV’s online branch at www.mass.gov/rmv to verify plate cancellation. The customer will be instructed to destroy or recycle their license plates and need not visit a branch to return them.
  • Option 2: Under a pilot program available in the Watertown branch and expanded to Wilmington, Worcester and Plymouth by the end of the month, customers will be able to return their plates using a touch-screen kiosk in the branch lobby without waiting in line. Customers will use the touch-screen kiosk to print their own cancellation notices and deposit their canceled plates into the kiosk.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has made a large move encouraging drivers to use the online website by offering additional services through the RMV website. Drivers applying for a new license or converting an out-of-state license may fill out the majority of the paperwork online and be ready to complete the transaction in a branch, decreasing the amount of time spent in the branch itself. Other online services offered by the RMV include: license and registration renewals, ordering a Fast Lane transponder, driving record and crash police reports, reviewing a registration, title or lien, and signing up to become an organ and tissue donor.

Online plate cancellation was added to www.mass.gov/rmv website last month as a soft launch.  Thus far the online cancellation has been used by 3,230 customers. Although this service is only a small portion of RMV operations, programmers are looking adding other simple service transactions to self-help kiosks such as paying tickets or citations.

Driver's License Renewals

Does it seem like the RMV is the only place that makes you work a little extra on your birthday? The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is looking to make your renewal processes easier. As opposed to standing in line at the RMV every four or five years, every other renewal period you may renew your license online! In an effort to save on expenses the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles no longer sends reminder mailings to renew your driver’s license. Be sure to keep a careful eye on your license expiration date.

A Massachusetts driver’s license is valid up to five years from issue date and will expire on your birthday. You may renew your drivers license up to a year before the expiration date. However if you’re more of a procrastinator, the RMV recommends renewing driver’s license at least seven days before expiration. Thus allowing enough time to receive your new license in the mail before your current license expires.

Also be prepared to pay a renewal fee. The Massachusetts government charges $25 for an amendment or duplicate licensing and $75 for the renewal of a Class A, B, or C license. For more information on the Massachusetts licensing charges visit the RVM fees page where renewals, registration, and title transfer fees are listed.

However it is important to remember you may not renew your license online if you:

  • have a license photo that was taken before age 21
  • have a license photo that was taken more than nine years ago
  • hold a commercial driver’s license
  • need to legally change your name
  • have filed for a change of address however have not received a confirmation e-mail
  • would like to register to vote
  • do not have a Social Security number

In these cases you will need to visit a local RMV branch to renew and have additional changes made.

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