Learner’s Permit (Class D Permit)
As with most states, Massachusetts is part of the national effort to curb the high-rate of teen driver deaths by mandating a Graduated Licensing program. The GDL program in Massachusetts starts with a Learner’s Permit at the minimum age of 16 years old. This permit allows driver’s behind the wheel only with another licensed adult over the age of 21 years old and has a number of restrictions on its use. In order to move on to the next stage, 40 hours of behind-the-wheel driving also needs to be accomplished during the Learner Permit phase. You will be required to pass a written and vision test in order to get a learner’s permit.
The restrictions of this permit, besides not being able to drive without a licensed adult also include a night time restriction. You cannot drive between 12 pm and 5 am unless you are with a licensed adult. You can also not drive any vehicle except a passenger vehicle and you cannot transport passengers under 18 that are not immediate family. You also cannot drive outside the state unless that allows out-of-state teen drivers. You can drop the 40 hour requirement of driving to 30 hours of driving with the completion of a driver skills development program with an accredited driving school with at least 12 hours of behind the wheel instruction.
Junior Operator License
16 ½ years old is the minimum age you can apply for your JOL, since it is mandatory to hold your learner’s permit for a minimum of 6 months before application. Also in order to get a JOL you must complete a full driver’s education program that is certified by the state. You parent or guardian also must provide 2 hours of driving instruction before getting your JOL. Once you have achieved these requirements you can apply for your JOL at which time you can also apply for your road skills test.
During the JOL phase there are still a number of restrictions in place including night time driving which is prohibited without a licensed adult. You can also not carry passengers under 18 that are not immediate family for a further 6 months after getting your JOL. For both these stages of the GDL you are forbidden from using a cell phone during driving as well as consuming any drugs or alcohol. Learner’s Permit and JOL’s are vertical licenses in Massachusetts with “Under 21” specifically printed on them. Even when you receive a full license you will receive a vertical license until you apply for a license renewal on or after your 21st birthday.
Full Class C License
A full license is available to GDL driver’s once they turn 18 years old and has at least held their JOL and Learner’s Permit for at least 1 year. At this stage you are considered a fully licensed driver.
Out of State
Massachusetts like most states requires you to apply for a state license if you are a resident for more than 30 days. Providing citizenship, proof of residency, a driving record, your old license, proof of birth date, social security number and paying a fee is necessary.
OUI in Massachusetts
Operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol is prohibited in the state, under the same levels as most other states. The adult blood alcohol level (BAC) is federally mandated at 0.8% while for underage drivers it is 0.2% and 0.4% for commercial drivers. There are administrative penalties from the Registry of Motor Vehicles as well as criminal charges and penalties from the courts.
Penalties are quite severe with first offenses requiring a 1 year license suspension, jail time up to 2 ½ years and fines up to $5000. A driver education program also may be mandated by the court. Penalties increase with every offense including a felony charge on 4th and subsequent offenses and a minimum 24 month jail sentence without parole up to 5 years jail time on 5th offenses and a lifetime licenses revocation.
As an implied consent state, you are required to submit to roadside chemical test for sobriety if you do not there is a 180 day suspension on first offense, 3 years for drivers under 21 to 5 years on a 3rd offense and a lifetime license revocation on a 4th refusal. Ignition interlock devices are required on all OUI charges for second and subsequent offenses.
Driving in Massachusetts is considered a privilege, not a right.