Operating Without a License

Operating Without Being Licensed

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 10 makes it a crime to operate a vehicle without a license. There are three elements of this crime, set forth below, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The defendant operated a vehicle.

  2. The defendant operated the vehicle on a way.

  3. The defendant did so without having a valid license issued by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV). Normally, the prosecutor proves this element with a certificate from the RMV relating to the defendant’s unlicensed status. It is not a defense that the defendant was not notified that his/her license had expired.

There are several statutory exceptions to the requirement of a Massachusetts license, including the following:

  • Persons who have valid Massachusetts learner’s permits;

  • Persons who have licenses in another state or country, have applied for a license in Massachusetts, and have been issued a temporary 60–day permit;

  • Persons who are licensed in another state and married to a member of the armed forces who has been assigned to Massachusetts;

  • Persons who are on active duty in the armed forces and have been issued a license by their home states;

  • Non–residents who have been licensed by the state where the vehicle is registered, but not for longer than 30 days after moving to Massachusetts or 30 days annually, in the aggregate;

  • Non–residents licensed in home states that grant reciprocal privileges to Massachusetts residents, but not for longer than 30 days after moving to Massachusetts or 30 days in the aggregate annually.


The punishment for operating without a license is a fine of up to $500 or time in jail for up to 10 days.

Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer: 617–973–5858

It is important to remember that operating a motor vehicle without a license is not a civil infraction but a criminal offense. Like all crimes, a conviction could have a very negative impact on your future. The smartest course of action is to speak with a defense attorney. If you would like to speak with Robert J. Wheeler, Jr. about any criminal matter, call the Law Offices of Robert J. Wheeler, Jr. at 617–973–5858 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or contact him online today through this website. Attorney Wheeler is undoubtedly one of Massachusetts’ most experienced and brightest criminal defense attorneys. He successfully represents those charged with all types of offenses, including: motor vehicle crimes, sex crimes, drug crimes, theft crimes, drunk driving/OUI/DUI, domestic violence, violent crimes, white collar crimes, and more.