Report: Pay-to-Play Plaguing RMV, Putting Driving Schools at Front of Line

Ever wonder why it takes so long to get a driver's license road test? The New England Center for Investigative Reporting uncovered a troubling practice.

Boston Highway


In Massachusetts, $35 will get you driver’s license road test. Getting behind the wheel in anything resembling a timely fashion will cost you a bit more—as much as $196, as the New England Center for Investigative Reporting found.

An investigation by the NECIR has revealed a troubling, longstanding practice at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, “severely limiting the average citizen’s ability to secure coveted appointments in a timely manner.” Those who pay between $75 and $195 to a private driving school receive weekend and early morning road test appointments unavailable to those who only pay $35, regardless if they took lessons from the driving school.

“It’s troubling,” Peter Enrich of Northeastern University School of Law told NECIR reporter Beth Daley. “It’s not just that I can pay the Registry to get to the head of the line, it’s the Registry is selling that right to a private business that is able to extract a profit from me for that access.”

The RMV receives roughly 1,000 more road test per week than it did a decade ago. Meanwhile, budget cuts have reduced the number of road examiners by a third. As a result, the RMV has begun scheduling those who could afford to pay a driving school during regular business hours, which are intended for those who can only afford the Registry’s $35 fee, the NECIR found.

The report is full of cringeworthy horror stories of abominably long wait-times, like Greg Rundlett of Salisbury, who refused to pay a $75 fee to a driving school and subsequently waited online for two days—the only available appointment more than a month out, 170 miles away in Pittsfield.

You can read the NECIR’s full investigation here.