Unlicensed Operation of Motor Vehicle

Unlicensed Operation of Motor Vehicle

Operating Without Being Licensed MA

Driving without a license is defined in Massachusetts law as:

“No person under sixteen years of age shall operate a motor vehicle upon any way.  No other person shall so operate unless licensed by the registrar.”

Exceptions: Non-resident drivers, including military and families, with valid driver’s licenses from their home state or country can drive in Massachusetts without an in-state license, subject to certain limitations.

Requirements for Conviction

In order to secure a conviction, the prosecution will need to prove that

  • the defendant operated a motor vehicle.
  • the defendant did so on a way.
  • the defendant did so without having a valid license to operate a motor vehicle, issued by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

Each of the elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.


For people who have never been issued a license and get caught driving, the fine is up to $500 for a first offense.  A second offense carries a fine of $500 to $1,000 and any subsequent offense results in a fine of $1,000 to $2,000. Even though the charge carries no jail time, it is still a criminal offense and a conviction will appear on your record.  Also, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you avoid the embarrassment and employment implications of a conviction.

We have successfully handled countless unlicensed operation cases.  Many of our clients have been caught “red handed,” and we have still been able to secure dismissals in many such cases.  The best way to get the best outcome is to retain a defense attorney ASAP to get to work on the case right away.  In fact, when we’re hired before arraignment or before a clerk magistrate hearing, we’ve been able to get cases dismissed without ever appearing on our clients’ criminal records.

If you’re facing a charge of driving without a license, we can help.  Call us at 781-797-0555 for a free phone consultation today.

Further Facts & Considerations

In September of 2019, it was reported that legislation was filed and debated in the Massachusetts State House that would make driver’s licenses available to undocumented immigrants

“The legislation (H 3012/S 2061) filed by Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield and Christine Barber of Somerville, and Sen. Brendan Crighton of Lynn, would permit all qualified residents, regardless of immigration status, to apply for and receive a standard state license under the state’s now-two-tiered system.”

Fourteen states, including neighboring Connecticut and Vermont, have passed laws that allow all residents to acquire some form of license or permit regardless of immigration status. The Massachusetts legislation would not affect federal Real ID-compliant licenses, which require proof of citizenship or lawful residence as well as a Social Security number.

This could be a major development in legislation regarding licensed drivers and have a huge impact on the commonwealth of Massachusetts and its residents.

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