In full transparency, the following is a press release from the Middlesex District Attorney’s office.
WOBURN – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, State Representative Joseph McGonagle and Senator Sal DiDomenico have filed a bill that would require the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to allow any individual the option, upon request, of entering into an installment plan to pay fines or fees owed due to license suspension or revocation.
The bill An Act Relative to Operating After Suspended License Offenses (H3535, S2307), addresses the disproportionate impact of administrative fee structures that can be excessively punitive and lead to unintentional collateral consequences and further involvement in the criminal system.
“We need to reform the system currently in place which puts an unfair burden on individuals involved in the criminal system based solely on lack of financial resources. We cannot ignore the reality that, under the current system at the RMV, it can be tremendously burdensome for certain defendants to pay administrative fines,” said District Attorney Ryan. “I am grateful for the partnership of Representative McGonagle and Senator DiDomenico who have joined me in filing a common-sense solution to this problem.”
“I am really excited about this bill and optimistic about its future. I believe it will provide critical help to those who deserve it. I’m very grateful to District Attorney Ryan for advocating for this legislation and recognizing the service it will provide to many across the Commonwealth,” said Representative McGonagle.
The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Carmine Gentile, Elizabeth Malia and Lindsay Sabadosa.
“Far too often, families and individuals experiencing poverty face punitive impacts of their financial situation,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “Even something as simple as the repayment of an administrative fee can have long-term financial impacts for those facing economic hardship and place undue burden on those without adequate financial means. I applaud D.A. Ryan for proactively working reform this inequitable system, and I am pleased to partner with her and Representative McGonagle on this common sense piece of legislation.”
Under existing law, defendants who have difficulty paying fees to the Registry of Motor Vehicles associated with driver’s license suspension cannot make partial payments towards license reinstatement. These fees can be substantial and in some cases, an inability to pay can hold individuals back from closing their pending criminal case and make them unable to regain a valid license. The effects of this can ripple through their lives, impacting work, child care and even lead to additional court appearances.
Under this proposal individuals would be permitted to enter Into a payment plan of at least $25.00 per month toward the total amount owed. Upon payment the registrar may issue a conditional reinstatement of the license or right to operate a motor vehicle if the person is otherwise qualified to be granted said license or right to operate a motor vehicle. The partial payment system is a fair solution allowing defendants struggling financially a method to pay fines incrementally and reinstate their license sooner.
The bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on Transportation.