Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, leaving the scene of an accident after causing personal injury or property damage is a criminal offense. The law requires that you provide your name, address, and vehicle license plate number if you knowingly collide with or otherwise cause injury to a person or damage to property.

Leaving the scene of an accident after causing property damage will result in a 60 day license revocation for a first offense. A subsequent conviction of leaving the scene of a property damage accident within 3 years will result in a 1 year license revocation.

Leaving the scene of a personal injury accident will result in a 1 year license suspension for a first offense and a 2 year license suspension for a second offense. There is a lifetime look-back period for prior offenses.

Also, in addition to suspending your license, the Registry of Motor Vehicles may revoke your motor vehicle’s registration. If this occurs, your vehicle cannot be operated on any public way and you must surrender the vehicle’s registration plates to the Registry.

Under Massachusetts law, a judge hearing a leaving the scene case has the ability to recommend to the Registry of Motor Vehicles that the defendant not have his or her license suspended. This little-known provision of Massachusetts law allows a defendant to avoid an otherwise automatic license suspension for leaving the scene.

Leaving the scene of either a personal injury or property damage accident is one of the predicate major offenses under the Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offender Statute, G.L. c. 90 § 22F. This means that the Mass. RMV will count these convictions when determining whether or not a person should have his or her license revoked for four (4) years under the Mass. HTO Law.

Although there is no specific legal authority which allows the Massachusetts RMV to grant hardship licenses for leaving the scene suspensions, the Board of Appeal of the Division of Insurance has the power to grant hardship licenses for these suspensions, only after a hearing is held and the Board elects to exercise its discretion, which is certainly not mandatory or automatic.

If your license or right to operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts has been suspended due to a leaving the scene conviction, I invite you to contact me for a free consultation and review of your situation.

Finally, when deciding whether or not to grant a hardship license in an operating under the influence case, both the Mass. Registry and Board of Appeal may view a leaving the scene charge as an operating under the influence incident, believing that the driver left the scene of the accident because he or she was OUI.