The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not have a DMV points system in place. In terms of your license status, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) cares a lot more about the number of violations you accumulate than points. While the RMV does not have a points system in place, your insurance company can have a surcharge points system.
When you break a motor vehicle law in MA, you may receive a citation. A citation may require that you pay a fine, lose your driving privileges, appear in court, or go to jail. Major traffic law violations, such as driving while intoxicated or leaving the scene of an accident, are criminal offenses that carry severe penalties and could cause you to lose your license. You can also lose your license through a series of traffic violations, such as driving above the speed limit or failing to obey traffic signals.
All moving violations are tracked in Massachusetts by the RMV and are recorded on your driving record. Moving violations can affect your motor vehicle insurance rate due to their points system and may cause your license to be suspended by the RMV.
The motor vehicle violations or at-fault accidents that are listed on your driving record are called surchargeable events. Each surchargeable event counts toward possible license suspension. Remember also that the RMV treats most out-of-state traffic convictions as if they occurred in Massachusetts.
If you receive responsible findings on three speeding violations within a 12-month period, your driver's license will be suspended automatically for 30 days. The 12-month period begins when you either pay or are found responsible for the first of the three citations.
Junior Operators (under age 18) face a tougher license suspension of 90 days for a first speeding citation and one year for any subsequent citation. For a first drag racing citation, a Junior Operator license will be suspended for one year. A subsequent drag racing violation will result in a three year suspension.
If you collect five surchargeable events on your driving record within a three-year period, you are in danger of having your license suspended. You will be sent a letter from the RMV instructing you to complete a Driver Retraining course. You must complete the retraining course within 90 days or your license will be suspended indefinitely until you complete the program. If you have taken the Driver Retraining course in the past three years, you are exempt from this requirement.
If you collect seven surchargeable events within a three-year period, your license will be suspended automatically for 60 days.
Surchargeable events not only threaten your driving privileges, they also affect your private passenger motor vehicle insurance. All insurance company used to use a surcharge points system, a program called the Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP), to help determine your rates. However Massachusetts introduced managed competition in April of 2008 and as part of this change to the auto insurance regulations insurance companies are no longer required to use the SDIP to determine surcharges and points for at-fault accidents and traffic violations and apply credits for incident-free years. Instead, insurers may choose to develop their own merit rating plans or to continue using the SDIP.
The surchargeable points schedule that was in place prior to April 2008 and that may still be used by some MA insurance providers is as follows:
- Major traffic violation (such as DUI) 5 points
- Major at-fault accident (such as a claim over $2,000) 4 points
- Minor at-fault accident (claim of $500 to $2,000) 3 points
- Minor traffic violation (such as speeding) 2 points
With the SDIP system your first non-criminal minor traffic violation is not counted and thus will not be subject to a surcharge but after that if this method is used by your insurance company the points start to add up and the cost of your insurance will rise. Under the SDIP if you have no more than three surchargeable incidents over the past five years, one point will be removed for each violation, for every three years of safe driving.
If you want more information on your MA driving record contact the Massachusetts RMV directly. If you want to see if your insurance company follows the SDIP or has a points system of their own for surchargeable events, contact your insurance agent for this information. The MA insurance regulator should also be able to give you information on your auto insurance provider's rating system since the rates must be filed with this state agency.