How long does it take for points to come off your license in MA? In Massachusetts, in lieu of points accruing on your license, a system called the Safe Driver Insurance Plan is in place. This plan positively affects the cost of your policy and premiums when you have an excellent driving record.

However, negative points accrue when you commit specific driving offenses. It is these points that affect the cost of your auto insurance in the state.

Key Highlights
  • How long it takes for points to come off your license in Massachusetts depends on how recently a traffic incident occurred and how many you have.
  • Points technically do not come off your license in Massachusetts. Instead, an accumulated number of points results in higher insurance premiums due to Massachusetts’ “Safe Driver Insurance Plan” (SDIP).
  • Insurance companies in the state can use the SDIP established by the Registry of Motor Vehicles or come up with their own system to benefit or penalize drivers.

In Massachusetts, how long do points remain on your driving record?

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is no points system that is strictly associated with a person’s driver’s license. Instead, the state, through the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), uses a merit rating system that positively or negatively affects the cost of auto insurance depending on the number of traffic violations and at-fault accidents you have accrued.

This system is called the Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) and can work to your benefit or detriment. For example, if you have no surchargeable incidents in the state, you may be eligible for the “Excellent Driver Discount Plus,” which requires having six years of driving experience with no surchargeable incidents during the policy time.

Similarly, the “Excellent Driver Discount” is available to people who only have one surchargeable incident in their six-year policy period This incident must be a non-criminal minor offense and must have occurred at least three years prior.

It’s important to understand what a surchargeable incident is, of course. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles defines a surchargeable incident as a minor or major traffic violation, comprehensive coverage claim or an at-fault accident.

Two other important details to know about the SDIP are:

  • The SDIP allows information about insurance claims that have been made to be exchanged.
  • In Massachusetts, insurance companies can choose to follow the SDIP or can develop their own rating plans.

Massachusetts moving violations and insurance rates

All moving violations are tracked in Massachusetts by the RMV and are recorded on your driving record. Moving violations can affect your state car insurance rates due to the SDIP.

Surchargeable events threaten your driving privileges in specific ways. Each surchargeable event is assigned a number of points, as follows:

  • Major traffic violation, 5 points
  • Major at-fault accident, 4 points
  • Minor at-fault accident, 3 points
  • Minor traffic violation, 2 points

When a surchargeable incident occurs, the insurance company will contact you and the Merit Rating Board, which determines surchargeable events. The surchargeable event can then be added to your driving record and can result in an increase in auto insurance.

There is one provision that may result in the reduction of points in Massachusetts. The “Clean in 3” provision allows the value of points for a surchargeable incident to be reduced by one point when three specific requirements are met:

  • Three years of driving experience
  • The most recent surchargeable incident date is at least three years before the effective date of the policy
  • Three or fewer surchargeable incidents occurred in the five years prior to the effective date of your policy

In addition to an increase in premiums, major traffic law violations can result in other consequences. For example, driving while intoxicated or leaving the scene of an accident are criminal offenses that carry severe penalties, like the loss of your license.

There are some caveats, however. With the SDIP system, your first non-criminal minor traffic violation isn’t counted and thus isn’t subject to a surcharge if it is the first violation within five years of the effective day of your policy. But, after your first violation, if this method is used by your insurance company, the points start to add up and the cost of your insurance will rise.

It’s important to know that most out-of-state traffic convictions are counted as if they occurred in Massachusetts.

When your license can be suspended in Massachusetts

There can be other consequences for driving violations in Massachusetts. If you are convicted of three speeding violations within one year, for example, your driver’s license will be suspended automatically for 30 days.

Here is another example: Adult drivers who receive three moving violations or have other surchargeable incidents within a 24-month period will be required to complete a driver retraining course within 90 days. If you fail to do so, your license will be suspended indefinitely until you complete the program.

If you collect seven surchargeable events within a three-year period, your license will be suspended automatically for 60 days. There also is a habitual traffic offender (HTO) designation that can be applied to motorists in Massachusetts. 

You are considered to be an HTO if you’ve accumulated three major moving violations or any combination of 12 major or minor moving violations within a five-year period. If you are found to be a habitual offender, you will receive a four-year revocation of your license. 

If you want more information on your Massachusetts driving record, contact the Massachusetts RMV directly. If you want to find out if your insurance company follows the SDIP or has its own point system for surchargeable incidents, simply speak to your insurance agent or representative.

The state’s 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.

Resources & Methodology

Sources

  1. Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. “211 CMR 134.00: Safe Driver Insurance Plan.” Accessed November 2022.
  2. Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. “Safe Driver Insurance Plan.” Accessed November 2022.
  3. Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. “Surchargeable Incidents.” Accessed November 2022.

— Michelle Megna contributed to this story.