Massachusetts Hands-Free Distracted Driving Law

Massachusetts Hands-Free Distracted Driving Law

Hands-Free Electronics While Driving – It’s the Law

The new Massachusetts hands-free distracted driving law takes effect on Sunday, February 23.

This law is a significant change for drivers 18 and over and traffic enforcement as well. The new law (Chapter 122 of the Acts of 2019) prohibits operators of motor vehicles from using any mobile electronic device, including a cell phone, unless the device is used in hands-free mode.

Drivers 18 and over are:

  • Not permitted to hold or support any electronic device
  • Only permitted to touch devices to activate the hands-free mode, and can only enable when the device is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console
  • Not permitted to read or view text, images, or video displayed on a mobile electronic device; however, a driver may view a map generated by a navigation system or application on a mobile electronic device that is properly mounted

Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use any electronic devices. All device/phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.

Penalties for Violating the Hands-Free Law

  • 1st offense – $100 fine
  • 2nd offense – $250 fine, plus mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program
  • 3rd and subsequent offenses – $500 fine, plus insurance surcharge and mandatory completion of distracted driving educational program

Operators may use a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency. If possible, the operator should safely pull over and stop before calling 911.

More Info
Please visit our website for more details. We’ve also included a link to an informational brochure below, that we ask you to review, post, and share with your customers and colleagues.

Questions About Massachusetts Hands-Free Distracted Driving Law?
Contact us at RMVATLASSupport@dot.state.ma.us with any questions you may have.

Questions about your Massachusetts Auto Insurance?                                             Contact us at: MassAutoQuote.

Massachusetts REAL ID

Massachusetts REAL ID

After October 1, 2020, you will need a Massachusetts REAL ID or a passport to fly within the United States or enter federal buildings.

A MASSACHUSETTS REAL ID:

  • Is a valid driver’s license or identification card
  • Is valid as a form of federal ID
  • Requires an in-person visit
  • Has a star displayed on the document to indicate that is a federally compliant card

Once you’ve decided if you want a MA REAL ID, get the right documents together. You’ll need to prove your:

  • U.S. citizenship or lawful presence
  • Social Security number
  • Massachusetts residency

All documents must be originals, photocopies and laminated documents will not be accepted.

A document cannot be used to prove more than one requirement.

U.S. Citizenship or Lawful presence documents

1 document from this group for either REAL ID or a Standard driver’s license/ID.

Lawful presence means that you’re legally living in the United States according to federal immigration laws. All U.S. citizens and lawfully permanent residents have permanent lawful presence in the U.S.

Non-U.S. citizens who are studying, working, or living temporarily in the U.S. may have temporary lawful presence that may vary in length.

For U.S. citizens, a valid, unexpired U.S. passport is sufficient proof of lawful presence. U.S. citizens may also provide a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate.

For permanent residents, a valid permanent resident card (green card) is enough.

For non-U.S. citizens, you need to provide valid, verifiable immigration documents as well as proof that you’ve been granted a legal stay in the U.S. for at least 12 months. Your license or ID will expire when your legal stay is over.

Whether you’re getting a Massachusetts REAL ID or a Standard driver’s license/ID, you’ll need one of these:

  • Valid, unexpired U.S. passport or passport card
    • If your U.S. passport was issued within the last six months, bring your certified copy of your U.S. birth certificate
  • Certified copy of a birth certificate filed with a State Office of Vital Statistics or equivalent agency in the individual’s state of birth
    • A Puerto Rican birth certificate will only be accepted if it was issued on or after July 1, 2010. For more information on the Puerto Rican birth certificate law, visit the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration website. 
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) issued by the U.S. Department of State, Form FS-240, DS-1350, or FS-545
  • Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) issued by DHS or INS
  • Temporary I-551 stamp in foreign passport
  • Unexpired employment authorization document (EAD) issued by DHS, Form I-766, or Form I-688B
  • Unexpired foreign passport with a valid, unexpired U.S. visa affixed
    • A non-US passport must contain a current visa and be presented with an I-94 Record of Arrival and Departure, unless you have a Permanent Resident Card or other change in status. The I-94 can be either a paper version from U.S. Customs and Border Protection or a printout of an electronic version downloaded from their website.
    • For applicable customers who have a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20) or Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (DS-2019) documentation verifying the applicant’s most recent admittance into the United States must be shown
  • Certificate of Citizenship, Form N-560, or Form N-561, issued by DHS
  • Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
  • Re-Entry Permit (I-327) – accepted for Standard credential only
  • Refugee Travel Document (I-571) – accepted for Standard credential only

Note: The federal government allows for some exceptions to those in temporary protected status (TPS). See Department of Homeland Security’s website for current countries designated for TPS.

Social Security Number (SSN) documents

1 document from this group for either REAL ID or a Standard driver’s license/ID.

You must have a valid Social Security Number (SSN) to apply for any learner’s permit, driver’s license, or ID card. The RMV will validate the SSN you provide against computer records at the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you do not have an SSN, you may request an application for one by calling (800) 772-1213.

If you’re getting a Standard driver’s license/ID, you’ll only need to provide your valid SSN.

If you’re getting a REAL ID, you’ll need to bring 1 of the following documents displaying your 9-digit SSN:

  • SSN Card (cannot be laminated)
  • W-2 Form*
  • SSA-1099 Form
  • Non-SSA-1099 Form
  • A pay stub with the applicant’s name and full SSN on it*
  • SSN Denial Notice with passport, visa, and I-94

*One (W-2/paystub) cannot be used for both the Massachusetts residency and SSN requirements.  Two different (W-2s/paystubs) from different employers can be used for both requirements.

If you do not have an SSN, you should apply for one at a Social Security office as soon as possible. If you are denied an SSN, you may still qualify for a Massachusetts driver’s license or ID card if you can meet other identification requirements. However, to prove that you applied for an SSN, you must present the written denial notice the SSA provided you. The RMV requires your SSN or denial notice to confirm your identity and to maintain your license and driving records.

Note: All CDL applicants must have an SSN.

Massachusetts residency documents

1 or 2 1 for a Standard driver’s license/ID, 2 for a REAL ID

To prove Massachusetts residency, you’ll need a document showing your current residential address. A P.O. Box isn’t acceptable. Neither is a document mailed “in care of.”

You’ll need 2 of these documents for a REAL ID. Standard driver’s license/ID applicants need 1 of the following:

  • Massachusetts RMV-issued documents (can use one from the options below)
    • Current license, Massachusetts ID card, or learner’s permit (liquor ID not accepted)
    • RMV-issued correspondence dated within 60 days and received via U.S. mail (including license/registration reminders)
  • State/federal/municipal/city/town/county agency-issued documents
    • 1st class, government-issued mail dated within 60 days
    • Current MA-issued professional license with photograph
    • Medicaid statement dated within 60 days
    • Current firearms card
    • Jury duty summons dated within 60 days
    • Court correspondence dated within 60 days
    • Property tax for current year
    • Excise tax for current year
  • Bills
    • Utility bill (electric, telephone, water, sewer, cable, satellite, heating) dated within 60 days
    • Credit card statement dated within 60 days
    • Medical/hospital statement dated within 60 days
    • Cell phone bill dated within 60 days
  • Lease or Mortgage
    • Current lease/mortgage or similar rental contract
  • Financial-related documents
    • Bank statement that contains images of cancelled personal checks dated within 60 days
    • W-2 wage and tax statement from immediate prior year*
    • Current pension statement (401k, 457, SEP, etc.)
    • Current retirement statement
    • Pay stub dated within 60 days*
    • Current SSA statement
    • Current installment loan contract (car loan)
  • School-issued documents
    • Official school transcript for current year
    • Official letter from school (proof of enrollment) dated within 60 days
    • Tuition bill for current year
    • Certified school record for current year
  • Insurance-related documents
    • Auto insurance policy for current year
    • Renter’s insurance policy for current year
    • Homeowner’s insurance policy for current year
  • Alternative Residency Affidavit
    • For applicants under 18 only

*One (W-2/paystub) cannot be used for both the Massachusetts residency and SSN requirements.  Two different (W-2s/paystubs) from different employers can be used for both requirements.

NAME MUST MATCH for REAL ID

If your current name doesn’t match the one that appears on your lawful presence document(s), you must prove your legal name change in order to qualify for a REAL ID driver’s license/ID card. If multiple name changes, documentation for each name change must be provided. You will need to provide one of the following:

  • Marriage Certificate (must be issued from the municipality)
  • Divorce Decree
  • Court Document

Formulated in the wake of September 11 and passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act was passed to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”

The act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, and it prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards for official purposes.

It was aimed at eliminating airline terrorism by increasing requirements to obtain documents granting access to domestic planes.

You can start your Massachusetts REAL ID application online by clicking HERE.

New Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Forms

New Registration and Title Application (RTA)

Change can happen quick and change can happen extremely slow. In this case, it seems, a little of both.

The old triplicate “RMV-1” form (Application for Massachusetts Title & Registration) has been around forever. Although branches have closed and branches have opened, the Registry of Motor Vehicles “experience,” always seems to remain the same. As of December 12, 2019 the RMV will no longer accept the familiar, triplicate RMV-1 and RMV-3 forms.

Replacing them is the new, single-copy: Registration and Title Application (RTA)

The RMV currently has a Registration and Title Application (referred to as an RMV-1) and a Registration and Title Amendment Form (referred to as an RMV-3). With ATLAS  Release 2, these two forms have been combined into one — the new Registration and Title Application (RTA). This new RTA form supports additional information the RMV will use in their business processes after ATLAS R2 implementation. Examples include the garage address, expanded sales and use tax information, slight changes to the vehicle description, and a general layout that follows the screen flow in the ATLAS system.

This updated form will be implemented as of November 12, 2019.  However, the RMV will continue to accept the old RMV-1 form as long as it was stamped and dated by an insurance company or agent prior to November 12, 2019.  Since the insurance stamp is valid for 30 calendar days, the last day for an old RMV-1 form to be accepted will be December 12, 2019.

NEW:  Certificate of Registration

With ATLAS Release 2, the Certificate of Registration will be changing to include the Change of Address for Residential, Mailing, and Garaging.

Cancel My Massachusetts Plates

cancel my Massachusetts plates

In order to cancel your Massachusetts Auto Insurance, you have to cancel your MA plates. Cancel My Massachusetts Plates is easier than it used to be. Rather than waiting in line at the Registry you can now cancel online at:  Cancel My Registration.

This is the link to the official website of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Once your plates are cancelled you must remember to notify your insurance agent or your company directly.

This no fee transaction allows you to cancel your registration and print out your Registration Cancellation Receipt. Once your plates are cancelled, you must then recycle or destroy the plates.

To continue, you will need your:

  • MA Registration Number
  • Email Address

And ONE of the following:

  • MA License/Permit/ID Number
  • 9 digit Social Security Number
  • FID Number (If vehicle is leased or registered to a company/corporation)

Keep this receipt as proof that you canceled your registration and provide a copy to your insurance company.

The receipt you print at the end of the transaction is in PDF format and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader that can be downloaded for free from Adobe.com.

How to get Massachusetts Handicap Plates

How to get Massachusetts Handicap Plates

Sometimes, it seems, things can be more difficult than imagined. This is, and isn’t, true when it comes to “How to get Massachusetts Handicap Plates.” I guess it depends on your imagination.

First of all, Handicap Plates, in  MA are Disability Plates and Placards. According to Mass. gov:

Through Medical Affairs, the RMV issues special license plates and placards to people with disabilities who meet certain medical qualifications.

Disability plates and placards allow people with disabilities to park vehicles in designated handicap parking spaces. They also allow people with disabilities to park at meters without paying fees or penalties.
Disability license plates are issued for cars or motorcycles.
Placards are displayed on the rear-view mirror, and are issued to qualified residents on a temporary or permanent basis.
Learn how to apply for, renew, and replace your disability plate or placard.

Apply for a disability placard or license plate
Disability plates and placards are issued to qualified Massachusetts residents who meet the eligibility requirements.
Please allow at least 30 business days for processing. Processing time varies based upon application volume.

To apply for a disability plate or placard, you must:

  • Complete an Application for Disabled Parking
    • Your healthcare provider will have to fill out a section to verify your disability status
    • Retain a copy of your 2-sided placard application
  • If applying for a Disabled Veteran (DV) plate, you will also need a DV plate letter (RMV35A) from the veteran’s administration. You can contact the veteran’s affairs at (800) 827-1000 to request the letter.
Fees for Apply for a disability placard or license plate

A disability placard has no fee.

Name Fee Unit
Disability Passenger Plate Fee (2-year) $60 each
Disability Motorcycle Plate Fee (annual) $20 each
Disability Placards

If your temporary disability placard is nearing expiration or requires re-certification, you will need to submit a new application for your placard for to stay valid.

If you have a permanent disability placard, a new placard will automatically be mailed to you when it expires.

Disability Plates

The RMV will mail you a registration renewal reminder approximately 6 –  8 weeks before expiration.

Disability plates

Disability plates are issued to qualified Massachusetts residents who are primary owners of a registered passenger vehicle or a motorcycle. A holder of a passenger vehicle disability plate is entitled to a temporary disabled placard. A person must demonstrate “good cause” or need for the placard in writing to the medical affairs. “Good cause” means a valid reason why the plate cannot be used and duration of the need. Placards may be issued for up to 24 months.

Disability placards

Disability placards are issued to qualified applicants on a temporary or permanent basis. A person may be issued only one valid placard at a time.

Disability Veteran plates

Disability Veteran plates are issued only to qualified Massachusetts resident veterans who meet the same qualifications as those applying for a disability plate. The DV plate letter (RMV35A) details your service connected disabilities. You must have a combined rating of at least 60% service connected disabilities for qualifying conditions.  These are the same disabilities that would qualify you for disabled parking. These plates are issued only to qualifying persons who are the primary owner of a registered passenger vehicle.

In summation, How to get Massachusetts Handicap plates, if you have all your materials BEFORE you go to the RMV, it will be easier than imagined. No matter how imaginative you are!

Downloads for Apply for a disability placard or license plate

Massachusetts Plates: regular vs. commercial

surprise-real-time-ma-insurance-rates

Our Massachusetts Independent Insurance Agency received a question from a client regarding putting lettering on the back of her car and if this would require commercial plates.

Great question.

The Long answer:

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation defines commercial vehicles (requiring commercial plates) as:

“ANY MOTOR VEHICLE WHICH IS NOT A PRIVATE PASSENGER MOTOR VEHICLE, ANTIQUE MOTOR CAR, MOTORCYCLE, TRAILER, SEMI-TRAILER, AUTO HOME, HOUSE TRAILER, TAXICAB, AMBULANCE, HEARSE, LIVERY VEHICLE. BUS, SCHOOL BUS OR PUPIL TRANSPORT VEHICLE”.

This includes:  Any vehicle which has a vehicle weight of more than 6,000 pounds unless it is a sport utility vehicle, passenger van, pickup truck or cargo van meeting the definition of a private passenger vehicle.

  • Any vehicle which as five or more wheels i.e.; a dually
  • Any pickup truck or cargo van, owned by a partnership, trust or corporation unless the vehicle meets the definition of a private passenger vehicle.
  • Any pickup truck or cargo van if on the bed , roof or sides of the vehicle tools, equipment, supplies and materials are transported to or from a job site (personal projects without compensation are not considered a job site).
  • A vehicle which has business lettering, markings and/or advertisements on it.
  • A vehicle used for hire to plow.
  • A vehicle used for hire to transport or store goods or merchandise (unless the vehicle is owned by an individual, the maximum carrying capacity is 1,000 pounds or less and is only used on a part-time basis).
  • A vehicle used to transport or store goods or merchandise intended for sale in the operator’s business (unless the vehicle is owned by an individual, the maximum carrying capacity is 1,000 pounds or less and is only used on a part-time basis).

So,  according to the MA Department of Transportation, if the vehicle has business lettering, markings +/or advertisements, then the vehicle should have commercial plates.

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Online

Massachusetts can boast about many things besides our winters.

Besides our sports teams, colleges, and hospitals, we’ve also got the state of the art, Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website!

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Online

Massachusetts can boast about many things besides our winters.

We’ve got our sports teams, colleges, hospitals, and we’ve also got the state-of-the-art, Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website!

MA Registry of Motor Vehicles Online Options

Massachusetts Vanity Plates

According to Mass.gov, the official website of Massachusetts, one of the most requested topics is ordering vanity license plates.

By using the following Registry of Motor Vehicles search tool, you can check to see if the vanity plate you want is available:

http://www.massrmv.com/VanityPlateRequirements.aspx

MA Vanity Plates

Have you ever thought about getting MA vanity license plates?

According to Mass.gov, the official website of Massachusetts, one of the most requested topics is ordering vanity license plates.

By using the following Registry of Motor Vehicles search tool, you can check to see if the vanity plate you want is available:

http://www.massrmv.com/VanityPlateRequirements.aspx

Directions For Ordering Vanity Plates –

Vanity plates may be ordered in person.

In Person: Go to any full service Registry Branch and complete the Application for Vanity Plates  Up to three plate requests can be made on one application. Payment must be made at the time of ordering.

Process: Within twelve to fourteen (12-14) weeks after your payment is received, you will receive a letter telling you the plates are ready and instructions on where to pick them up. The plates generally arrive at the branch within one week of the date of this letter.

To pick up your vanity plates at the branch you will be required to:

  • Submit an RMV-3, stamped by your insurance company.
  • Surrender your old plate(s).
  • Pay a swap fee.

Vanity plates must be picked up within 90 days.

MA Registry of Motor Vehicles 10 Point Promise

Secretary Davey said: “We have re-imagined the RMV and are prepared to deliver improvements in the short term and for the next generation of drivers. At the core of our ten point promise is the effort to diversify our service delivery channels.”

MA Registry of Motor Vehicles

Over the years the Massachusetts RMV has taken quite a bit of heat. Most of it deservedly so, and some of it coming from this humble, MA Auto Insurance Web Log.

Although, as lines outside the door testify, the RMV is not perfect, over the past 20 years some things have improved.

Recently MA Department of Transportation Secretary & CEO, Richard Davey and Mass Registrar of Motor Vehicles, Celia Blue, offered a ten point promise to Massachusetts RMV customers which we find encouraging.

Secretary Davey said: “We have re-imagined the RMV and are prepared to deliver improvements in the short term and for the next generation of drivers. At the core of our ten point promise is the effort to diversify our service delivery channels.”

Registrar Blue added: “Our ten point promise is a commitment to our customers. It will serve as a roadmap on our way to delivering extraordinary
service.”

  1. Encouraging you to make MassRMV.com your first stop every time – directing you to the most
    efficient service and adding new transactions, no wait for 35+ transactions today at
    MassRMV.com.
  2. Growing our customer service representative team – backfilling and hiring to serve our branch
    customers with the most complex transactions in a timely manner, exploring part-time
    positions to reduce the lunchtime crunch time.
  3. Professionalizing the frontline – Striving to deliver extraordinary customer service by
    developing employee performance standards, incentive programs and designing uniforms.
  4. Modernizing facilities & marrying transportation functions – improving existing facilities,
    designing new branches, prioritizing proximity to transit services and adding E-ZPass service
    centers.
  5. Renewing your photo on your own – deploying FasTrack self-service kiosks to allow customers
    in good standing to renew their license/ID on their own, leaving customer service reps to focus
    on more complex transactions.
  6. Meeting you where you are – continued pursuit and expansion of public private partnerships
    with industry partners like AAA, dealerships, driving schools, health care providers and
    insurance agents.
  7. Giving you back your time – saving customers millions of minutes by offering call back service
    and customer appointments at 857-DOT-8000.
  8. Answering questions & resolving customer issues in new ways – introducing online live chat,
    expanding our telephone self-service system at 857-DOT-8000.
  9. Delivering real time wait times to meet your schedule – procuring a new queuing system to help
    you manage your time and adding mobile app appointments.
  10. Modernizing our licensing & registration system – implementing a 360 degree customer view
    that will revolutionize how the public interacts with the RMV.

New Boston Registry of Motor Vehicles Opens

On September 15, 2014 the MA Registry of Motor Vehicles opened new, Haymarket Center, Boston location …

New Boston RMV

On September 15th the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles closed down the old, Washington Street, China Town Registry of Motor Vehicles and opened at their new location at Haymarket Center (136 Blackstone Street).

The full-service Registry Branch is adjacent to Haymarket Station.

According to the Registry of Motor Vehicles:

Boston is the RMV’s busiest branch. During the month of August more than 32,000 customers were served. Customers working to reinstate their licenses, following periods of suspension or revocation, visit the Boston location for hearings, with approximately 7,000 held there each month.

A ribbon cutting ceremony took place this morning at 10:30 am.