I received a speeding ticket! What next?

In Massachusetts, the state and local police are out in full force during the summer months handing out speeding tickets and other traffic violations.

While the fine can hurt, the hidden costs of these traffic violations are really what to look out for.

First, if you pay the ticket, be prepared for your insurance to go up.  All moving violations are surchargeable incidents in Massachusetts meaning that with each violation your insurance company has the choice to raise your insurance for up to 6 years for each violation.

The second hidden consequence of these tickets is the possibility of license suspensions.  In Massachusetts, if you receive 3 speeding tickets in one year there is an automatic suspension to your license. And with other moving violations, you could be facing a suspension after 3 moving violations in 2 years including at fault accidents.

Where the stakes are high for both your purse strings and your right to operate, appealling the ticket is the best choice.  In Massachusetts you have 20 days to elect the hearing.  If you fail to do this, you could lose out on the chance to appeal the ticket.

Broadbent & Taylor is experienced in fighting the traffic citations and doing everything possible to help you avoid costly surcharges and license suspensions.

Contact Attorney Broadbent at (508)438-1198 to schedule a consultation for your ticket or suspension issue.

WRITTEN BY ATTORNEY KELLY BROADBENT.  THIS BLOG IS NOT MEANT AS LEGAL ADVICE.

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Be Careful of License Suspensions

Often, Massachusetts motorists receive tickets and pay them, not thinking of the consequences. Sure, there is a fine of $50.00 or $100.00, but that is it, right? WRONG!

In Massachusetts, almost all moving violations are characterized as “surchargeable events”. What does that amount to?

First, with a moving violation, if it is surchargeable, your insurance company has the right to suracharge your insurance. What that amounts to is an increase of approximately 10% of your premium per year for 3 to 6 years. So it amounts to a lot of cash that comes out of your pocket.

The penalties do not end just in your purse. Most Massachusetts motorists are not aware that the number of surchargeable offenses can also amount to suspensions on your license.

The following is a breakdown of suspensions for surchargeable events:

1. 3 speeding tickets in 1 year- If you are found responsible (or pay the fine) for 3 speeding tickets within a 1 year period, there is an automatic 30 day suspension.

2. 3 surchargeable events in a 2 year period- if you are found responsible (or pay the fine) for 3 moving violations, including accidents, within a 2 year period, you are required to take a safe driver course. If you do not take the course within a prescribed time, you will receive a suspension until the course is completed.

3. 7 surchargeable events in a 3 year period- if you are found responsible (or pay the fine) for 7 moving violations, including accidents, within a 2 year period, there is an automatic 60 day suspension on your license.

4. 12 surchargeable events in a 5 year period (Habitual offender) – if you are found responsible (or pay the fine) for 12 moving violations, or if you are convicted of 3 major violations within a 5 year period, there is a 4 year suspension on your license. Accidents are not included in the habitual offender suspension.

Because of the possibility of the suspensions, it is important to always fight your Massachusetts traffic tickets. Your best chance for success on these tickets is by using an experienced traffic attorney.

If you have received a ticket and wish to speak with an attorney, contact Broadbent & Taylor for a free consultation.

Fight A Massachusetts Speeding Ticket

In Massachusetts, speeding and other violations can affect not only your wallet for the fine, but your insurance premiums and even your right to drive.

Most offenses are known as surchargeable offenses.  If you choose to pay the citation, your insurance company can raise your insurance premiums for each offense on the ticket.  In addition, the Registry of Motor Vehicles keeps track of the number of surchargeable offenses on your driving record, and can suspend your license if they accumulate over certain time periods.

The Appeals Process

If you choose to appeal the ticket, sign the back, and check off the box requesting a hearing.  Mail the ticket within 20 days to the address listed.  It is wise to keep a copy of the citation.  The RMV will send you a notice that the citation was received with a request for a $25.00 filing fee.  Pay the fee within 20 days or you could lose your right to a hearing.  Once the fee is paid, the RMV will send the paperwork to the court, who schedules you for a clerk magistrate hearing.

The clerk magistrate hearing is your first chance to have the ticket disposed of.  The clerk will listen to the information on the ticket, and then allow you or your attorney to speak as to your version of the facts.  The clerk will make a decision as to the outcome, which will either be responsible, with some fine attached, or not responsible.

If you receive a not responsible, the police prosecutor has the right to appeal to a judge hearing.  If he does not, the matter is finished.  You will not have to pay the fine, and the events will not count as surchargeable on your driving record.

If you receive a responsible finding, with the full fine or a reduced fine, you may either choose to accept the finding or appeal to a judge hearing.  If you accept the finding, you will have 20 days to pay the ticket, and the event will be recorded as a surchargeable event.  If you choose to appeal, you must pay the court a $50.00 appeal fee, and the matter will be scheduled for a judge hearing.

In Massachusetts, there is no way to pay a fine and eliminate the surcharge from your record.

If you elect to have a judge appeal, the officer that cited you will be summonsed to court.  If he fails to appear, you win by default..  If the officer does appear, a full trial is held on the merits.  The officer must show by a preponderence of the evidence (more likely than not) that you violated the statutes that you were cited under.  The officer is allowed to testify.  You or your attorney have the right to cross examine the officer. Then you have the right to testify on your own behalf.

The judge will make a determination that you are responsible at some fine, or that you are not responsible. If the clerk offered to reduce the fine for you, the judge still may impose the full fine, or may find you not responsible.  He is not bound by the clerk’s decision.  

Most cases end after the judge appeal, however, you may have a case that can be appealed to the appellate division.  To excercise this appeal, you must argue that the judge made an error of law in your case.  An argument that he made a factual judgment error is not enough to proceed.  This is a costly appeal and will most likely not be successful.