The Registry of Motor Vehicles and Department of Revenue are working together to encourage non-custodial parents to contribute to raising their children.
Parents who fail to make court-ordered child support payments will have their driver's licenses suspended by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The licenses will remain suspended until they fulfill their obligations. This new program replaces one in which parents who owed child support were not allowed to renew their driver's licenses or vehicle registrations.
"Taking away a driver's license can be seen a tough penalty, but we feel this will get the attention of parents who have been neglecting their obligation to their children," said Governor Jane Swift. "It's important that non-custodial parents contribute to raising their children."
Under the program, parents with unpaid child support bills will first receive a letter telling them their licenses will be suspended in 10 days. During the 10-day grace period, parents must work with the Department of Revenue to satisfy any obligations. If parents fail to act before the grace period expires, they will no longer be allowed to operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts or any other state. There is a $50 reinstatement fee if they clear the obligation after their license is suspended.
"This is just another tool the state will use to prod parents into paying what they should to help raise their children," said Revenue Commissioner Alan LeBovidge. "Taking away a driver's license sends the message that Massachusetts will not tolerate unpaid child support."
Since 1998, the Registry of Motor Vehicles has flagged the driver's licenses of parents with unpaid child support, making them ineligible to renew until the obligation was fulfilled. At the request of the Department of Revenue, the Registry has begun suspending offenders' licenses, which is also provided for under the law.
"Citizens rely on their driver's licenses to go about the day-to-day business of their lives," Registrar of Motor Vehicles Kimberly Hinden said. "These license suspensions will go a long way toward bringing deadbeat parents into compliance with the law."
Earlier this year, the Department of Revenue began working with the Division of Professional Licensure to suspend plumbing, engineering, cosmetology, and other licenses of parents with unpaid child support bills. That program enabled the Department of Revenue to collect more than $1 million in back child support.