Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in Massachusetts

Massachusetts sets a couple of laws to help protect the planet. Read on for green vehicle-related regulations.

Keep in mind that laws might change as MA begins to pay even more attention to environmental issues. The Alternative Fuels Data Center and your local Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) branch are also great places to turn. Of course, whether you drive an electric car, hybrid, or some other eco-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicle, you must abide by MA's general traffic laws.

Massachusetts Vehicle Registration and Emissions Testing

All vehicles require an annual inspection to maintain valid Massachusetts vehicle registration—regardless of whether they're fuel-efficient, electric, or powered by any other alternative fuel. Additionally, many green cars, excluding electric vehicles, must also undergo an emissions test. For more on which eco-friendly vehicles are exempt from emissions testing, consult our page on green driver incentives.

Vehicle Emissions Standards

The Massachusetts Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Program requires that the following new passenger vehicles have factory-installed, California-certified advanced control systems for the purposes of being sold or registered in Massachusetts.

  • Passenger cars (model year 1995 and newer that weigh up to 6,000 pounds).
  • Light-duty trucks (model year 1995 and newer that weigh up to 6,000 pounds).
  • Medium-duty vehicles (model year 2003 and newer that weigh 6,001 to 14,000 pounds).

This requirement applies to new vehicles that have an odometer reading of 7,500 miles or fewer. For further details, consult the LEV Program page.

Not only must vehicles sold and registered in MA comply with California's emission and compliance standards (specifically, Title 13 of the CA Code of Regulations), vehicle manufacturers must also meet the requirements for Zero Emission Vehicle sales and greenhouse gas emissions. For more information on these requirements, refer to the MA Department of Environmental Protection Regulations and Standards (310 CMR 7.40).

MA Vehicle Idling Restrictions and Fines

Idling is wasteful—burning up to a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour—and also illegal in Massachusetts. In fact, MA prohibits drivers from unnecessarily running the engine of a motor vehicle (while stopped) for more than five minutes. Some exceptions to the rule include:

  • Vehicles being serviced (only if running the engine is essential to repair the vehicle).
  • Vehicles delivering or accepting goods, wares, or merchandise (only when engine-assisted power is necessary and there are no alternative means to substitute idling).

If you get caught idling your vehicle, you could face a first-time fine of less than $100. Additional offenses come with pricier fines (not to exceed $500). For full details and more exemptions, consult MA General Laws (Chapter 90, Section 16A).

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