In the state of Massachusetts, traffic tickets and other citations are issued for a number of different traffic law violations. The code or statute number of the particular violation will be indicated on the citation. Additionally, there will be an explanation as to why you are being cited along with how or when to respond to the ticket and how the fine for your violation can be paid. Response to the citation usually involves appearing in court and/or paying a fine. Failure to respond will result in a warrant for your arrest being issued by the court and your driver’s license may be suspended as a result.
Massachusetts Definition Of Traffic Violations
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, traffic violations are defined as any criminal act that violates the state’s driving laws. Most moving violations (e.g. speeding tickets), do not have serious consequences. Conversely, there are other violations, such as driving under the influence, that are far more serious and are classified as criminal offenses. However, serious consequences can result if several minor infractions or violations are committed over a short time period.
Naturally, the more serious moving violations carry stiffer penalties and the offender will have to pay a much higher fine. There is also the possibility that they will have to serve time in jail and have their license suspended. Traffic laws commonly cover specific driving actions but there are other laws prohibiting things like leaving the scene of an accident.
In the state of Massachusetts, the majority of the traffic tickets that are issued are commonly referred to as “strict liability” offenses or violations. Regardless of whether any criminal intent can be proved, the only thing that is needed in order to convict an offender of a traffic violation is proving that the individual actually committed it. Failure to use your turn signals, overdue parking meters, and speeding are some of the more common strict liability offenses.
Comparing Moving To Non-Moving Violations
Another criteria that is considered when determining which traffic laws have been violated is whether the vehicle was or was not moving during the incident. A traffic ticket will either be issued for a moving or a non-moving violation depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. Here are some examples of each:
• Moving violations – driving over or under the speed limit, driving without wearing a seatbelt, OUI (a.k.a. D.W.I. or drunk driving), and running a red light or a stop sign
• Non-moving violations – leaving a running vehicle unattended, license plates that are expired or missing, and possessing an invalid license or vehicle registration
Although parking tickets are not traffic violations, they will need to be paid in the municipal court of the city where the violation occurred. Failure to pay parking tickets can cause your registration to be revoked and make it more difficult to renew your driver’s license.
Additional Considerations Concerning Fines And Penalties
In the state of Massachusetts, most traffic violations are classified as infractions and a fine will normally be the penalty. Fines range from as little as $50 up to $2,000 or more. Massachusetts charges a base fine rate and then additional amounts depending on the severity of the traffic infraction. This is referred to as a graduated fine system.
What Are Your Options After Getting A Traffic Citation?
You have two choices once you are charged with a moving or non-moving violation. You can admit your guilt by simply paying the fine directly to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, provided no court appearance is required, or you can request a hearing to contest the charges. In most cases, you will not be required to appear in court unless you are contesting the charges. However, if the violation is serious enough and there is a possibility of facing time in jail, hiring an attorney or lawyer will be your best option.
If you either do not contest the violation or are found responsible, points are added to your driving record by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles for the purpose of tracking your traffic violations and the corresponding penalties that result. If enough points are added to your driving record, you could temporarily lose your driving privileges and have your license suspended. An experienced attorney is familiar with the state’s point system and can navigate the system and retain your ability to drive.
Finally, you are going to suffer higher driving insurance rates when these points accumulate on your record. Having an experienced attorney in your corner provides you with certain advantages that you will not have if you go to court on your own without skilled representation.