DMV Point System in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is known for its progressive stances and its willingness to try different things. That sentiment also rings true for the state's unique DMV point system.
The state's Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP) is designed to charge drivers who accumulate points more for their car insurance than drivers who don't. The more points you have, the higher your car insurance rates will be.
Read below to find out more about how MA keeps track of your traffic violations and how they could affect you and your ability to drive in Massachusetts.
MA Point System Basics
Just like in other states, the “golf rule" can be applied to your MA driving record: The fewer points you have, the better you're doing. In contrast, the more points you have means you will be paying much more for your car insurance.
But in Massachusetts, those points do NOT have as much of an impact on your record as the number of citations you're issued.
Every moving violation you get in the state is referred to as a “surchargeable event," and they can come with some serious consequences, depending on:
- How many you accrue.
- The type of offense you committed.
- How quickly succeeding violations occur.
The MA Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) breaks surchargeable events into several categories, including:
- Major traffic violations.
- Major at-fault accidents.
- Minor at-fault accidents.
- Minor traffic violations.
Be careful: Any traffic tickets you receive out-of-state will also be added to your record and count toward your total number of surchargeable events.
If you're not a MA resident but receive a moving violation in Massachusetts, you will also get points added to your driving record. Contact your auto insurance provider for more details.
*NOTE: Commercial motor vehicle drivers may face additional punishments for receiving these citations.
Worried about your auto insurance rate? Many plans in Massachusetts directly tie your car insurance payments to your driving record.
Find out more—and how to avoid higher auto insurance rates—with our guide to tickets and car insurance.
MA SDIP Consequences
Unlike other states, Massachusetts allows the state government to dictate most auto insurance rates. This means your driving record is most likely directly tied to your car insurance payments.
The Safe Driver Insurance Plan allows the state to punish you doubly for each driving violation you get, through extra fees/higher rates on your auto insurance bill.
However, the reverse is also true in MA: A good record could lead to a lower rate.
*NOTE: Massachusetts car insurance companies are not required to follow the SDIP; however, they must have their own merit-based rating system to determine premiums.
Driver's License Suspension
Points you receive per the SDIP will not be applied towards a driver's license suspension. However, an accumulation of surchargeable events (violation or other incident earning you points) can lead to a suspended license.
If you are issued citations for surchargeable events at a certain pace, the MA RMV will suspend your license. Timetables include:
- 3 speeding tickets within 12 months.
- 3 surchargeable events within 24 months.
- 3 major violations within 5 years.
- Any 12 violations within 5 years.
Depending on how many violations you receive, you may also have to:
- Attend a Driver Retraining Course.
- Must be completed each subsequent time you have 3 surchargeable events in 2 years.
- You will be given 90 days to complete the course.
- Pay a $100 license reinstatement fee.
- Retake your driver's exam and pay:
- $30 for your learner's permit exam.
- $35 for your road test.
- Pay a $100 to $1,200 license reinstatement fee.
Contact your local RMV office for more information on specific punishments.
Always know exactly how many points you've accumulated by checking your Massachusetts driving record—and prevent suspensions before they happen.
Reducing Driving Record Points
Depending on how long you go without acquiring any surchargeable incidents, you may be eligible for credits you can use toward your car insurance bill.
You'll lose 1 point if you:
- Have 3 surchargeable events or fewer within 5 years.
- Have at least 3 years of driving experience.
- Your most recent surcharge event happened at least 3 years before your insurance policy's effective date.
There are a number of other ways for you to reduce surcharge event points. Check out the MA RMV's guide to surcharge credits for more information.