Operating Without Being Licensed
While driving can be fun, it is also highly regulated through statutes in the Commonwealth. Operating without a proper license is a criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. According to Gordon v. Bedard, the purpose of the statute was to make roads safer and assure that those operating on the roadways are qualified to do so. Gordon v. Bedard, 265 Mass. 408 (1929). If you operate without a license, you are considered to act negligently and are a potential danger to the public safety.
If you have operated a vehicle without being licensed or unknowingly let your license expire and have been charged with this offense, we are here to help.
Who can be charged with this offense?
To be guilty of this offense, the individual must operate a motor vehicle on a road which is dedicated to public use, as a highway, private roads under statutory authority, or park road. Basically this means any operation of a motor vehicle by someone unlicensed, no matter where it takes place in the Commonwealth, can result in a charge of this crime. An owner of a vehicle who allows an unlicensed driver to operate their vehicle can also be held liable under this statute. Le Blanc v. Pierce Motor Co., made it clear that it does not matter whether or not the owner actually knows if the individual is unlicensed. Le Blanc v. Pierce Motor Co., 370 Mass. 535 (1940) The government does not have to show that the offender “knowingly” committed this offense.
The simple fact that you cannot produce your license upon being stopped does not give the government enough ammo to charge you with this offense. Usually the government will look into the Registry of Motor Vehicle records prior to making a charge.
Exceptions to this crime
There are 7 exceptions:
Those who are licensed in other states and have been given a temporary license in the Commonwealth;
This generally includes students who are attending a school within the Commonwealth and those who are simply passing through from another state.
Person’s with valid Commonwealth learner’s permits;
Person licensed in another state and is accompanying a member of the armed forces who is licensed in Massachusetts;
Members of the armed forces who are on active duty and have a license elsewhere;
Members of the armed forces returning from active duty, who are licensed in a foreign country (must be within 45 days of his/her return);
Non-resident who is licensed in the state where the vehicle is registered (for no more than 30 consecutive days);
If you remain in the Commonwealth for more than 30 days without a Massachusetts license, you can be charged under this offense.
Individuals who are licensed in states that will provide reciprocity to Massachusetts’ citizens (not for more than 30 days annually, unless he/she has a valid place of business in Massachusetts and Massachusetts liability insurance rules are met).
The fate of those who operate without a license;
There is little defense for unknowingly allowing your license to expire. The offense is criminal in nature and those who choose to operate without a license could face fines of $500 up to $1000 and/or potential jail time of up to 10 days.
The Importance Of Fighting This Charge
Being found guilty of unlicensed operation can have a number of negative consequences. Besides the potential of jail and a fine, a guilty finding for this offense can result in a loss of license, insurance surcharge, and points towards becoming a habitual traffic offender with the potential of a long loss of license. If you are cited for this offense, appeal the citation, contact a Middlesex County Operating Without Being Licensed Attorney, and make your case to a Clerk Magistrate before you are arraigned. If you have already been arraigned, contact an attorney immediately.