Alcohol and drug suspensions for under 21 years of age

This section provides the Registry of Motor Vehicles' policies related to alcohol or drug suspensions/revocations for customers under the age of 21.

Table of Contents

Underage breathalyzer failure

If you are arrested for Operating Under the Influence (OUI), you will be asked to consent to a chemical test (breathalyzer test) to determine your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). If you are under 21 and register a BAC of 0.02% or greater, the RMV will suspend/revoke your learner's permit/driver's license or right to operate for 30 days in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24(1)(f)(2) unless you are eligible for a 1st offender court disposition and your case has been resolved under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24D. The arresting officer will immediately:

  • Take custody of your learner's permit/driver's license (if issued by Massachusetts) or right to operate
  • Provide you with a written notification of the suspension/revocation of your learner's permit/driver's license or right to operate, effective immediately (no temporary driver's license will be issued)
  • Notify the RMV of the suspension

The RMV will suspend/revoke your learner's permit/driver's license or right to operate immediately. There is no notification period.

Additionally, in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24P, the RMV will also issue a YAP suspension/revocation on your learner's permit/driver's license or right to operate. This suspension will run after the completion of the 30-day suspension for failing the breathalyzer. Refer to the YAP section for more information.

You have the right to appeal the breathalyzer failure suspension before the district court in which the underlying charges are pending. This suspension cannot be appealed at the RMV.

Underage chemical test refusal

If you are arrested for Operating Under the Influence (OUI), you will be asked to consent to a chemical test to determine your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). If you refuse a chemical test, the arresting officer will immediately:

  • Take custody of your learner's permit/driver's license (if issued by Massachusetts) or right to operate
  • Provide you with a written notification of the suspension/revocation of your driver's license, effective immediately (no temporary driver's license will be issued)
  • Impound your motor vehicle for 12 hours
  • Notify the RMV of the suspension within 24 hours

In Massachusetts, refusing to take a chemical test is not a criminal offense, but is instead a statutory requirement with an administrative suspension/revocation. The RMV will suspend/revoke the customer's learner's permit/driver's license or right to operate immediately. There is no notification period.

Suspension periods for refusing a chemical test

Suspension periods vary by the number of prior OUI offenses a customer has incurred, including convictions or program assignments from out-of-state or any other jurisdiction. The following table lists the suspension periods for the refusing a chemical test, depending on the customer's past OUI history.

Number of Prior OUIs Suspension Period
None 3 years
One 3 years
Two 5 years
Three Lifetime

 

Youth Alcohol Program (YAP) assignment

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24P, the RMV places a Youth Alcohol Program (YAP) suspension/revocation on an underage operator's learner's permit/driver's license or right to operate when, after being arrested for Operating Under the Influence (OUI), he/she either refused to submit to a chemical test or failed a breathalyzer test. This suspension/revocation is in addition to any penalty imposed for the chemical test refusal, breathalyzer failure, or the charge of OUI.

Multiple suspensions/revocations resulting from an alcohol-related violation will be served consecutively. This means the suspension generated as a result of refusing or failing a breathalyzer test will be served in its entirety before the Youth Alcohol Suspension is served, and the suspension resulting from a conviction or program assignment for OUI will begin after those suspensions are complete.

A court disposition of "Not Guilty" or a "Dismissal" on the charge of OUI does not automatically make you eligible to reinstate a chemical test refusal suspension or a Youth Alcohol Suspension. These suspensions are mandated by law, and must be served in their entirety unless you obtain a court order to reinstate the chemical test refusal suspension. The court cannot order reinstatement of the Youth Alcohol Suspension. The only relief from this action is enrollment into the YAP.

Youth Alcohol Program Suspension as a Result of a Chemical Test Failure or Refusal
Age: Under 18 years old 18-20 years old
Suspension period: 1 year 6 months
Reduction for 24D Driver Education Program: 6 months 6 months

The Youth Alcohol Program suspension/revocation cannot be reduced if you have been previously arrested for, or charged with, an Operating Under the Influence violation or Motor Vehicle Homicide. The Youth Alcohol Program suspension/revocation will be re-imposed in its entirety if you fail to complete the Youth Alcohol Program.

Providing Proof of Youth Alcohol Program Entry to the RMV

To be eligible to reduce or waive the suspension/revocation, you must provide proof of entry into the YAP to a Hearings Officer.

Credit toward the reduction or waiver of the YAP should be given even if the suspension for the YAP has been served in full.

Mandatory Suspension as a Result of a Conviction of Certain Offenses


Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24P(b), if you are under the age of 18 at the time of violation and did not incur a suspension under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24P(a), you will incur a suspension if convicted of any of the following:

Violation Any offense listed under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24 Motor Vehicle Homicide listed under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24G Operating Under the Influence Serious Injury under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24L Possession of an Open Container of Alcohol under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24I
1st Conviction 180 day suspension 180 day suspension 180 day suspension 180 day suspension
2nd or Subsequent Conviction 1 year suspension 1 year suspension 1 year suspension 1 year suspension

Unlike suspensions imposed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24P(a), these suspensions cannot be reduced as a result of entry into the first offender's 24D Driver Education Alcohol program.

Underage Operating Under the Influence (OUI)

The RMV will suspend/revoke your learner's permit/driver's license or right to operate after receiving notification from a court of a conviction or assignment to a program for Operating Under the Influence (OUI).

Multiple suspensions/revocations resulting from an alcohol-related violation will be served consecutively. This means a suspension generated as a result of a conviction or assignment to a program for OUI will not begin until the suspensions for refusing a breathalyzer and the Youth Alcohol Suspension are served in their entirety.

Convictions, Suspension Periods, and Reinstatement Requirements

Suspension periods vary by the number of prior OUI convictions on your driving history. The RMV must consider your entire history when calculating an OUI suspension/revocation. The RMV will count all of your OUI convictions and Driver Alcohol Education Program assignments by a court of the Commonwealth or any other jurisdiction, no matter how old, when determining the number of convictions and the associated suspension periods. The following table lists the suspension periods and reinstatement requirements for the more common OUI-related convictions.

Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24
1st offense 2nd offense 3rd offense 4th offense 5th offense
1 year suspension or Alternative 210 day suspension + Program Assignment 2 year suspension - Ignition Interlock Device required - Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test 8 year suspension - Ignition Interlock Device required - Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test 10 year suspension - Ignition Interlock Device required - Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test Lifetime suspension
 
 
Operating after a suspension for a previous Operating Under the Influence offense
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 23
1st offense 2nd offense 3rd offense 4th offense 5th offense
1 year suspension 1 year suspension 1 year suspension 1 year suspension 1 year suspension
 
Child Endangerment: Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol with a child 14 years of age or younger in the vehicle
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24V
1st offense 2nd offense 3rd offense 4th offense 5th offense
1 year suspension 3 year suspension Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test 3 year suspension Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test 3 year suspensionPass a learner's permit exam and a road test 3 year suspension Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test
 
Operating Under the Influence causing Serious Bodily Injury
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24L
1st offense 2nd offense 3rd offense 4th offense 5th offense
2 year suspension Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test 2 year suspension Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test 2 year suspension Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test 2 year suspension Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test 2 year suspension Pass a learner's permit exam and a road test
Additional Related Suspension

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24P, the RMV will issue a Youth Alcohol Program (YAP) suspension/revocation on a learner's permit/license or right to operate when an underage operator fails a breathalyzer test or refuses to take a breathalyzer test. You will be required to complete a YAP. Refer to the YAP Suspension section for more information on the YAP suspension/revocation.

Driver Alcohol Education Program Assignments

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24D, when convicted of, or charged with, a first offense of OUI, you may consent to be assigned to a Driver Alcohol Education Program as a condition of probation. When the court notifies the RMV that you have been assigned to a Driver Alcohol Education Program, the RMV will suspend your learner's permit/driver' license or right to operate for a period of 210 days. The Driver Alcohol Education Program is specifically designed by the Department of Public Health for the education and treatment of drivers who operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Note: An underage operator with a 24D disposition whose blood alcohol concentration level at the time of violation was not less than 0.02% is required to do a 2-week in-house program in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24D.

Underage Alcohol Violations

The following table lists the suspension periods for the more common underage alcohol violations.

Violation Individual under age 21 purchasing or attempting to purchase liquor Individual under age 21 possessing alcohol Individual under age 21 transporting or carrying alcohol unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian* Procuring alcohol for an individual under age 21
Penalty 180 day suspension 90 day suspension 90 day suspension 180 day suspension
Governing Laws Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34A Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34C Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34C Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34A

* Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34C does provide that individuals between the ages of 18-21 may transport alcohol in the course of employment. While distinctions and exemptions exist, the proper forum for vetting them is through the district or juvenile court. An RMV Hearings Officer cannot change a determination made by a court. If you dispute the “correctness” of a court's finding, it must be addressed with the court, and, if successful, a corrected abstract must be sent to and entered by the Merit Rating Board before the RMV can take any action.

Contact

Online

Feedback