Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License or OAS in MA

Operating a motor vehicle after your driver’s license has been suspended is a criminal violation in Massachusetts. The penalty upon conviction, 1st offense for operating after suspension (OAS) is up to 10 days in jail, or a fine not less than $500 up to $1,000; or both jail and fine.

Your license will also be suspended for an additional 60 days.*

For a second OAS conviction, you face a mandatory minimum of 60 days jail time up to a year. These penalties apply only when the underlying reason for loss of driving privileges does not pertain to DUI [see OUI/DUI section below].

*Important: If your original suspension was not DUI-related, and this is your first OAS offense, you might qualify for a fine-only Continuance and no added suspension time.  Continue reading for details


A little-known caveat in the OAS laws provides a special resolution for drivers who: 1) Were not originally suspended for DUI, Vehicular Homicide or DUI Causing Serious Injury; 2) Have never before been convicted of OAS; and 3) Have never taken a Continuance Without Finding –or CWOF, for OAS.

If applicable, this section of the law allows the offender to negotiate for a Continuance and a fine of no more than $500.

The biggest benefits of this resolution are that the offender removes: a) the extended 2-month suspension; and b) entry of a misdemeanor offense in their permanent record should they be convicted for OAS.

Many courts aren’t familiar with this provision because the OAS statute is structurally flawed and poorly written. However, an experienced Massachusetts defense lawyer can argue for this disposition successfully.

Penalties for Operating After Suspension for DUI

When the underlying reason for your suspension was due to driving/operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the penalties for continuing to drive are more severe.

If convicted of Operating After a Suspension for DUI / OUI, you will be sentenced to

  • A mandatory minimum of 60 days in a House of Correction;
  • Up to a maximum of 2.5 years in jail, And
  • At least a $1,000 fine, up to $10,000 And
  • An additional 1 year suspension of your driving privileges.

If convicted of OAS for DUI BEFORE adjudication of the DUI matter OR while under certain automatic suspensions; You Face:

  • A mandatory minimum of 1 year in a House of Correction;
  • Up to a maximum of 2.5 years in jail, And
  • At least a $2,500 fine, up to $10,000 And
  • An additional 1 year suspension of your driving privileges.

There are many reasons why your license is suspended in Massachusetts, and some don’t have anything to do with driving violations. For example:

  • Failure to Appear for Court
  • Outstanding Warrants.
  • Failing to Pay Child Support
  • Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
  • 3 Speeding Tickets within 12 months
  • 3 Surchargeable Events within 24 months
  • Upon Conviction for certain Drug Crimes.

Operating After Suspension is a misdemeanor offense. While jail time is typically rare for OAS offenses, if convicted, you will have a misdemeanor entered into your CORI (criminal record). This makes driving while suspended a very high cost.

You Should Also Know …

Your insurance company will likely either raise your premiums or possibly cancel your policy after your OAS violation is reported to the Registry.

If you were on probation, an OAS charge is considered a violation of your probation terms. Having “no contact with police” whereby you are the subject of contact is a direct violation of most probationary agreements.

If you’ve already been caught, read the final section below and don’t lose hope. If you’re researching because you just found out your license is suspended, take these related penalties as serious warnings – and don’t risk it!

Many drivers don’t learn they’ve been suspended until it’s too late. Not knowing your DL is invalid is not a strong defense against an OAS charge in certain cases. However, it can be relevant in some situations.

You can check the status of your MA Driver’s License at any time by visiting this page and following the online instructions. Or, you can find out if your License is valid and clear of any holds by calling (857) 368-8000.

Don’t Lose Hope – Contact a MA Defense Attorney

Driving on a suspended license is one of the most frequent errors we see people make in our practice. But everyone makes mistakes, especially when tough circumstances box them in to a corner.

That’s where I come in. I’ve helped people get their lives back on track sooner, versus much later, by negotiating with the prosecution for a lesser charge wherever possible and in my client’s best interests to do so.

Many times, in cases where you have little to no criminal history and the reason for the suspension was non-criminal, I’m able to get the charge dropped altogether.

Remember that police also make mistakes. You may have a triable case that can be won in court so that the Operating After Suspension charge is dismissed.

Call 978-452-1116 to schedule an appointment with me to review the details of your OAS case during a free consultation.

Related Articles

What is a CWOF?

Reinstating Your MA Drivers License


Attorney Gregory Oberhauser

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Gregory Oberhauser is the ONLY attorney in Massachusetts to be distinguished as an ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist by the American Chemical Society!

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