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The “Safe Driver Law”

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 §8M

Relevant sections and provisions

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The “Safe Driver Law”

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 §8M

Relevant sections and provisions

From the



The Safe Driving Law became effective in Massachusetts on September 30, 2010. The law creates a series of new violations, which the RMV Division, MassDOT IT staff and the Merit Rating Board are working to program and implement.

These new violations include:


Chapter 90 §8M- Use of a Mobile Phone or Mobile Electronic Device by a Junior Operator
Civil Offense- No Surcharge
(Mobile electronic device includes mobile telephone, text messaging device, paging device, PDA, laptop computer, electronic equipment capable of playing video games or video disks or can take/transmit digital photographs or can receive a television broadcast. Mobile electronic device does not include any equipment permanently or temporarily installed to provide navigation, emergency assistance or rear seat video entertainment. Reporting an emergency is the only exception. Drivers are encouraged to pull over and stop the vehicle to report the emergency.)

  • 1st offense-$100, 60 day license suspension & attitudinal course
  • 2nd offense-$250, 180 day suspension
  • 3rd or subs offense-$500, 1 year suspension


Improper Use of a Mobile Phone by Operators 18 and Over
Civil Offense-No insurance surcharge (One hand must be on the steering wheel at all times and no use of device can interfere with driving)

  • 1st offense-$35 assessment
  • 2nd offense in 12 months-$75 assessment
  • 3rd offense in 12 months-$150 assessment


Sending/Reading Text Messages
Civil Offense-No insurance surcharge (Operators cannot use any mobile telephone or handheld device capable of accessing the Internet to write, send, or read an electronic message including text messages, emails, and instant messages or to access the Internet while operating a vehicle. Law applies even if the vehicle is stopped in traffic.)

  • 1st offense-$100
  • 2nd offense-$250
  • 3rd or subs offense-$500


Negligent Operation & Injury from Mobile Phone Use
Criminal Offense- Insurance surcharge

Junior Operator License (JOL) Suspensions

  • 1st offense-180-day suspension
  • 2nd or subsequent offense within 3 years-1 year suspension
  • $500 reinstatement fee

Over-18 suspensions

  • 1st offense-60-day suspension
  • 2nd or subsequent offense within 3 years-1 year suspension
  • $500 reinstatement fee


Additional Suspensions
The law repeals the current suspension for 5-surchargeable incidents in a 3-year period and replaces it with a new suspension for 3 surchargeable incidents in 2 years. Violations with an incident date on or after 9/30/2010 can be factored into the new suspension calculation. However, older violations will still be considered a basis for operators that accrue 7 surchargeable incidents. Similar to the current suspension process for 5 surchargeable incidents, operators will have 90 days from the suspension notice to complete a National Safety Council course to avoid going into suspension.

EXAMPLE: An operator receives a citation on October 1, 2010 and is cited for 3 offenses on the ticket: speeding, failure to yield, and a marked lane violation. Under the new law, this driver will receive a notice that they must complete the NSC course in 90 days or have his/her license suspended until completion of the class.


Medical Fitness Reporting
Health care providers and law enforcement may report operators they believe are not physically or mentally capable of safely operating a vehicle due to cognitive of functional impairment

  • May request RMV to seek medical evaluation of operator
  • Requests can’t be based on operator age or solely on diagnosis of condition or impairment-it must be based on the effect either has on the ability to drive safely
  • Good faith belief of impairment based on-
    • Personal observation
    • Physical evidence
    • Law enforcement investigation
  • RMV must review report within 30 days of receipt


The RMV must promulgate regulations based on recommendations from the RMV Medical Advisory Board designating cognitive or functional impairments likely to affect an individual’s ability to operate.


Public Awareness Campaign
The law requires the RMV to work with Executive Office of Public Safety and Security - Highway Safety Division to implement a public awareness campaign for junior operators and adults. Campaign must start by January 1, 2011.

The campaign is to include, but not be limited to:

  • Dangers and consequences of distracted driving
  • Information on restrictions of cell phones and electronic devices while driving
  • Information on fines and punishments