Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime!

In Massachusetts, if you are involved in an accident and there is any evidence of property damage or personal injury, you are responsible for making your identity known to the other parties.

In most cases, what that involves is stopping, exhanging your telephone numbers, license information, and insurance information, then contacting your insurance company.  But what do you do if it is not a typical accident situation?

In many cases, a person will strike an object such as a telephone pole, a building, curbing, a fence, a parked car or something similar.  There isn’t any identifying markers saying “If you hit me please call.”  If it is a parked car, some people will leave a note with contact information.  That isn’t a viable option in cases of a pole or a fence.

If you are involved in an accident with an object, call 911 and immediately report the matter to the police.  They will come, fill out an accident report, and you will be on your way.  If you do not, you risk being cited with leaving the scene of property damage, which is a criminal matter.  You can expect to receive a summons from the police for an arraignment or show cause level hearing.

If you hit a car with passengers and you do not stop to exchange information, you are subject to being charged with leaving the scene of personal injury.  Because there are victims that are physically hurt, rather than property that was damaged, these cases are treated very seriously.  If you leave the scene of a person that was injured without exchanging information or calling the police, you can expect to be charged under this statute.

If you are charged with leaving the scene of property damage or personal injury, you should contact an attorney immediately.  Make sure your insurance company is aware so that any damage can be covered as soon as possible.

Contact Broadbent & Taylor if you have been charged with these crimes.  Broadbent & Taylor represents clients across Massachusetts in motor vehicle matters.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Navigating a Criminal Citation in MA

In Massachusetts, there are 2 types of citations that are handed out: civil and criminal.  If you receive a citation for a criminal violation, it is important to take the steps to best defend the citation.

With any criminal matter, it is important to contact an attorney at your earliest oppurtunity.  While a criminal citation may seem trivial, they can in fact impact your criminal history.

Read the citation.  In MA, you have 4 days to return the criminal citation to the court that has jurisdiction.  While it is not necessary to do so, it gives you the added benefit of the scheduling of a show cause hearing.  A show cause hearing is a preliminary hearing in front of a magistrate where the magistrate has the chance to NOT ADVANCE THE MATTER.  If the matter is disposed of at the show cause level, it will not appear on your criminal history.

As with any criminal matter, anything you say can be used against you.  This goes for any statements made by you at the show cause hearing.  Because of this, it is strongly advisable to have an attorney with you at the show cause level to speak on your behalf.

Broadbent & Taylor handles the criminal citations at every level, from the show cause, to the arraignent, up to the trial.  Contact us if you have received one of these citations to discuss how you should proceed going forward.

 

THIS POST IS WRITTEN BY ATTORNEY KELLY BROADBENT.  IT IS NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE.

Defending CDL Traffic Violations

While a speeding ticket is an expensive nuisance for most drivers, a driver with a CDL license has added consequences when dealing with a moving violation.

If you receive a ticket in Massachusetts and you have a CDL license, you should strongly consider appealing the ticket.

  1. Your employer may suspend or terminate you because of the citation.
  2. Costs for insurance may skyrocket.
  3. The DOT considers number of miles over when dealing with points or suspensions.  If you are driving a CDL vehicle and are cited, the number of miles over the limit can greatly impact the consequences on your license.

If you have received a citation in Massachusetts and you have a CDL license, contact Broadbent & Taylor  at (508) 438-1198 to schedule a free consultation.Having an attorney to represent you and guide you through the options with these tickets increases your chances of a favorable outcome.  .  We represent commercial drivers across Massachusetts.

Automatic Defense in MA to traffic ticket with MGL 90c S2

In Massachusetts, an officer is required to provide you a copy of the citation at the time of a motor vehicle stop.

MGL Chapter 90 c Section 2 outlines the requirements of the officer to give the ticket in hand:

Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law, other than a provision of this chapter, to the contrary, any police officer assigned to traffic enforcement duty shall, whether or not the offense occurs within his presence, record the occurrence of automobile law violations upon a citation, filling out the citation and each copy thereof as soon as possible and as completely as possible and indicating thereon for each such violation whether the citation shall constitute a written warning and, if not, whether the violation is a criminal offense for which an application for a complaint as provided by subsection B of section three shall be made, whether the violation is a civil motor vehicle infraction which may be disposed of in accordance with subsection (A) of said section three, or whether the violator has been arrested in accordance with section twenty-one of chapter ninety. Said police officer shall inform the violator of the violation and shall give a copy of the citation to the violator. Such citation shall be signed by said police officer and by the violator, and whenever a citation is given to the violator in person that fact shall be so certified by the police officer. The violator shall be requested to sign the citation in order to acknowledge that is has been received. If a written warning is indicated, no further action need be taken by the violator. No other form of notice, except as provided in this section, need be given to the violator.

A failure to give a copy of the citation to the violator at the time and place of the violation shall constitute a defense in any court proceeding for such violation, except where the violator could not have been stopped or where additional time was reasonably necessary to determine the nature of the violation or the identity of the violator, or where the court finds that a circumstance, not inconsistent with the purpose of this section to create a uniform, simplified and non-criminal method for disposing of automobile law violations, justifies the failure. In such case the violation shall be recorded upon a citation as soon as possible after such violation and the citation shall be delivered to the violator or mailed to him at his residential or mail address or to the address appearing on his license or registration as appearing in registry of motor vehicles records. The provisions of the first sentence of this paragraph shall not apply to any complaint or indictment charging a violation of section twenty-four, twenty-four G or twenty-four L of chapter ninety, providing such complaint or indictment relates to a violation of automobile law which resulted in one or more deaths.

In the instance a defense is raised under MGL 90 c Section 2, the officer or representative must then meet a test as to whether a) the violator could not be stopped; b) where additional time was needed to determine the nature of the violation or the identity of the violator; or c) the court deems some other circumstance was present that may justify the faulure.

If you were mailed a citation by the police in Massachusetts, contact our office for a consultation as to whether this defense may pertain to your case.  Broadbent & Taylor offers a free consultation to all clients at (508) 438-1198.

 

 

 

License Suspensions in Massachusetts

If you accrue surchargeable events against your driving record, you could be looking at a suspension of your license.

Surchargeable Events

A citation received for a traffic law violation is surchargeable if the violation is included in the list of surchargeable traffic violations is Appendix A of the Safe Driver Insurance Plan Regulation, of if the cited operator:

  • Pays the fine assessed; or
  • Is found guilty or responsible by the court; or 
  • Is assigned by the court to a driver alcohol education program or a controlled substance abse treatment or rehabilitation program; or
  • Defaults on the citation by failing to pay the asssessed fine or failing to attend the hearing.

For a complete list of surchargeable offenses you can visit the Massachusetts executive office of public safety with the following link:  http://www.mass.gov/eopss/consumer-prot-and-bus-lic/vehicle-insur-mrb/surcharges/traffic-violations/major-traffic-law-violations.html

Suspensions

If you accumulate surchargeable events, you could be at risk for the following suspensions:

  • 3 speeding tickets within 1 year results in a 30 day suspension.  The 1 year is not a calender year. It begins at the finding date of the first ticket, and tolls for 1 year from that date
  • 3 surchargeable events or moving violations with 2 years results in an indefinite suspension. With this suspension, the operator may take the National Motorist Safety course to avoid the period of suspension.  It must be taken within 90 days of the notice to take the class, or the suspension will go into effect.  Once the suspension goes into effect, the motorist still must complete the course, and must pay a $100 fee to the registry for reinstatement.
  • 7 surchargeable events or moving violations within 3 years results in a 60 day license suspension. A $100.00 reinstatement fee must be paid to the registry at the end of the suspension to reinstate the license.
  • A Habitual Traffic Offender Suspension or HTO is triggered with 3 major moving violations or 12 major or minor moving violations over 5 years.  If another state reports a surchargeable event, it is calculated in the violations. Surchargeable accidents are not calculated in the violations. The operator receives a 4 year suspension for a HTO.  In addition, to reinstate the license, the operator must take both the written and driving portion of the license test, and pay a $500.00 reinstatement fee.  

If you are looking at any of these suspensions, please call our office for a consultation as to whether you may be able to appeal for a hardship license.

Junior Operator Laws in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, a junior operator is any operator under 18.  Massachusetts has strict regulations concerning Junior Operators, with harsh punishments.

Use of Mobile Phones by Junior Operator

  • A Junior Operator is not permitted to use a mobile phone or handheld device for any purpose while operating in Massachusetts.  Reporting an Emergency with a mobile phone is the only exception.  Operators are encouraged to pull over to do so.
  • A first offense results in a $100 fine with a 60 day license suspension and a attitudinal course
  • A second offense results in a $250 fine and a 180 day license suspension
  • A third or subsequent offense results in a $500 fine and a 1 year license suspension

Negligent Operation and Injury From Mobile Phone Use (Criminal Offense)

  • A first offense results in a 180 day license suspension
  • A second offense or subsequent within 3 years results in a 1 year suspension 
  • A $500 reinstatement fee is imposed on the operator

Speeding 

Speeding Carries a 90 day suspension with driver retraining course and a SCARR course, as well as a $500 reinstatement fee and the requirement to retake the license test.  A second or third offense triggers a one year suspension, along with the classes and reinstatement fees.

Appeals

The best way to avoid these suspensions is to appeal the citations and win.  If you would like a consultation regarding the citations, please contact our office.  If you have paid the citations, and are facing the suspensions, you may be elligible for a hardship license through the Registry of Motor Vehicles Board of Appeals. 

For a complete list of all Junior Operator offenses, please see the Registry of Motor Vehicle Website at: http://www.mass.gov/rmv/jol/jol_penalties_chart.htm

Why should I appeal my traffic citation?

Many clients contact me to determine why they should appeal a Massachusetts traffic citation.  There are several factors to consider when making this choice.

 

  1. How much is the ticket?  The ticket may only be for $50.  Many people see a low ticket, and just go ahead and pay it because of the low amount on its face.  A low amount on the citation is NOT a good reason to pay the ticket.
  2. How many different offenses were you cited for?  Many officers will stop you, then write the ticket not just for speeding, but marked lanes violation, failure to signal, or many other minor violations.  It is important to be aware that EACH OF THESE VIOLATIONS counts seperately for insurance purposes and towards suspensions.  I have seen clients who have had 4 or more seperate offenses listed against them.  In Massachusetts, payment of this type of ticket will result in a suspension or a mandatory driving retraining course.
  3. Will it cause my insurance to rise?  If it is a first ticket, it may not cause it to rise, since insurance companies will often forgive a first ticket.  Not appealing for this reason is a big mistake.  A first mistake is forgiven, which the courts will often forgive as well.  The courts are not so forgiving when it comes to a second ticket.  Appeal the first to keep it off of your driving record.  You may need that insurance break somewhere down the line, and it is harder to argue that you have a great driving record when you paid a ticket 6 months earlier for the same offense. Also, you may lose a good driver discount, costing you even more than a surcharge.
  4. Could it trigger a suspension?  Most people are not familiar with the suspension laws in Massachusetts.  They are very strict.  A JOL operator loses his license on a FIRST speeding ticket.  An adult driver could be suspended for many different combinations of surchargeable events.  The surchargeable events include at fault accidents, so even if it is your first TICKET, you still may be at risk of a suspension.

Appealing the citations is worth the time and the expense to keep your driving record clean, to prevent a rise in your insurance premiums and to prevent suspensions against your driver’s license.  Our office fights Massachusetts citations across the state.  Contact us today for a free consultation.