Finding Your Way: Automobiles and Driving

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Driving in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Driverís License
Seat-Belt and Child-Safety-Seat Laws
What to Do in an Accident
What to Do if Stopped by the Police
Owning an Automobile in Massachusetts
Registry of Motor Vehicles
Used Car ďLemon LawĒ
Automobile Insurance
Massachusetts Automobile Excise Tax
Car Repairs
Automobile Emergency Services

Driving in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Driverís License 
According to Massachusetts law, a newly arrived immigrant or a foreign visitor may drive for up to one year on a home country driverís license. Visitors may drive on an international driverís license as long as it is valid. However, you should carry your passport with you at all times when driving on a home country or international driverís license because many police officers are not familiar with these licenses and will need proof of your identity. Therefore, it is probably wise to obtain a Massachusetts driverís license as soon as it is convenient. 

Each state in the United States has its own regulations regarding obtaining a driverís license, but once you obtain a license from any state it is valid for driving in all 50 states. However, if you move to another state, it is necessary to get a license from that state. The age for getting a driverís license varies from state to state, but normally the range is between 16 and 18. 

In Massachusetts there are several steps involved in obtaining a driverís license. The first step is to obtain a learnerís permit, which requires an eye examination for field of vision and basic color. A written test on Motor Vehicle Laws is also required. A booklet entitled Driverís License Manual, which contains the information required by the examination, is available at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. These booklets and the test are available in several languages. If necessary, a spoken test in English can be arranged. There is a fee for the application and processing of a learnerís permit. 

Once you have a learnerís permit, you are permitted to drive only when a licensed driver, 18 years of age or older, is sitting beside you in the front seat. Other restrictions are written on the front of the permit. Be sure to read the permit carefully. 

A person must be at least 16 years old before he or she can apply for a learnerís permit, 16 Ĺ years for a junior operatorís license and 18 years old for a driverís license. An application must be obtained at a local registry office and completed carefully. An appointment must be made for the road test and can only be scheduled by telephone. For an appointment call 1-800-858-3926 between 9:00 am and 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Seat-Belt and Child-Safety-Seat Laws
Massachusetts requires that all children under the age of 6 to be restrained in an appropriate child safety seat at all times when riding in an automobile. The appropriate seat for a child is determined by the childís weight and is written on the child seat or on the carton at the store. Infant car seats may be rented for a small fee from the MetroWest Medical Center. All drivers and passengers must wear seat belts. It is the law in Massachusetts.

What to Do in an Accident 
If you are involved in an accident, there are several steps you should take. You must notify police and the Registry of Motor Vehicles if anyone is hurt or if there is property damage of more that $1,000 in Massachusetts. Police officers called to the scene can assist you in filing the necessary report. Do not leave this type of accident without identifying yourself- it is against the law. 

It is a good idea to report any accident to the police, since estimating the cost of repairs is difficult. Whenever you have a car accident you should write down the following information: date and location of accident, make and color of other car; registration (license plate) number and state of other car; name, address, telephone number of other driver; other driverís insurance company, driverís license number, and state; name and address of all witnesses; and name and address of injured persons.

You also should provide this information to the other driver. Be careful not to make any statements to anyone except a police officer about what happened. Stay calm, be polite and donít argue. Arguing doesnít help and might make the situation worse. 

Contact your insurance agent promptly. They will be able to explain what your insurance company will pay according to what you purchased with your policy. 

Car accidents can be dangerous and are almost always expensive. The best defense is to drive carefully and never drive after drinking alcohol. 

What to Do if Stopped by the Police 
If you drive through a red light or are driving too fast, a police officer might try to stop you. They do this by driving behind you with their roof lights flashing, flashing their headlights, or using their siren. You should pull over to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so. If you are stopped by a police officer you should stay in your car and wait for the officer to come to you. 

The officer will ask you to show your driverís license and the car registration. The law requires that you have these with you when you drive. If these are not available, you will be asked for the identification. 

Under no circumstances should you reach for your wallet or offer the officer money. This is called ďoffering a bribeĒ and you could be arrested. 

You should always speak in a respectful manner to a police officer and never argue- this can only create trouble for you. 

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Owning an Automobile in Massachusetts
Registry of Motor Vehicles 
Registry of Motor Vehicles
www.state.ma.us/rmv
Framingham Office 
www.mass.gov/qrmv/framingh.shtm
10 Pearl Street, Framingham, MA 01702 
Telephone: 1-800-858-3926 
Hours: Monday - Friday: 8:30 am-5:00 pm, Thursdays 8:30 am-7:00 pm 
All automobiles must be registered with the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles before they can be driven. For a fee, the registry registers the title of the car and issues a license plate. You must have proof of purchase of the car and proof of insurance with you.

Automobile Insurance 
In Massachusetts and in most other states automobile insurance is required. You must purchase your insurance before you can register your car and obtain license plates. You can buy automobile insurance from any private insurance agent. Friends and relatives are often a good source for names of insurance agents.

Massachusetts Automobile Excise Tax 
If you own a car you will be taxed once a year by your town on the ďbookĒ value of the car. Tax bills will be sent in the mail. You can pay this bill by mail to the address on the bill or pay at your Town Hall in the Tax Collectorís Office.

Used Car ďLemon LawĒ 
The Massachusetts Lemon Law protects buyers from bad used cars. When purchasing a used car, you must get the car inspected within 7 days from the date of sale (stickers previously attached to a windshield of a used car are not transferable to the new owner). If the car fails the safety inspection and if the repairs will cost more than 10% of the purchase price, you have the right to a full refund of the purchase price from the seller. In order to obtain the refund, the car must be returned to the seller within 14 days from the date of the sale with certain documents. This law applies to both private sales and dealer sales. Mass. Gen. Law Chapter 90, Section 7N-1/4; online at www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/90-7n.25.htm.

Used car buyers purchasing a vehicle over $700 from a dealer are entitled to a warranty covering all parts and labor or safety defects according to the mileage on the odometer from 30 to 90 days. Before you can get a refund under the Used Car Lemon Law, you must give the dealer three repair attempts for the same defect or the car must be out of service for 11 days. (Mass. Gen. Law Chapter 90, Section 7N-1/4) 

Car Repairs
When your car needs to be repaired, you should get one or more estimates of the cost from repair shops. When you agree to have a repair done, you must be informed if the repair is going to cost more than $10 above the original estimate. All repairs must be warranted against poor workmanship. 

Automobile Emergency Services
Automobile emergency services are membership organizations that provide road service in cases of emergencies, as well as other programs and services. The best known of these is AAA, American Automobile Association.

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August 2008

 

 

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Updated on 10/28/2013 02:40 PM
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