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How to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, a traffic ticket is a motor vehicle citation issued to road users by law enforcement officials following traffic law violations. The law enforcement agencies can be state or local police officers. There are two options available to a road user issued a traffic ticket; to pay the ticket or appeal the traffic ticket in a court. The Massachusetts Judicial Authority outlines the traffic laws of Massachusetts under Chapter 90C of the Massachusetts General Statutes.

There are three penalties a road user issued a traffic ticket will face if found guilty of the traffic violation:

  • The payment of the monetary fee stated on the ticket can be a large sum depending on the number of citations received or the nature of the offense committed.
  • The addition of surchargeable points to the road user’s license—these points can cause an increase in the insurance premium of the traffic offender and will remain on record for a significant period.
  • The traffic violator can suffer a license revocation if the road user has accrued a certain amount of points in a specified time frame.

To appeal a ticket, the alleged offender must respond within 20 days from when the ticket was received or forfeit the right to hearing and face the consequences attached to the traffic ticket.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Is it Worth it To Fight a Traffic Ticket in Massachusetts?

Only road users issued a civil traffic citation can request a court hearing—this is called a contested hearing. Anyone issued a criminal traffic citation will have to appear in court before a magistrate. The magistrate will grant a criminal complaint against the violator. The accused person cannot fight the criminal complaint, but an individual can file a motion to dismiss the magistrate’s charges before a judge with good reason.

Fighting a ticket can be costly and time-consuming, and for certain small infractions, the resources spent on fighting the ticket might be more than the monetary value attached to the ticket. However, the points added to a motorist’s record and the potential license revocation can make it desirable to fight a ticket. As with all citations, the issuing officer will have a good reason for issuing a ticket, and the defendant must have good evidence for supporting a “not guilty” claim.

There are financial implications to contesting a ticket, and to start the hearing process, concerned persons must pay a court filing fee of $25. The cost of the legal process can increase if the accused person decides to hire an attorney, which can result in more significant financial loss. If the accused loses, the individual will have to pay attorney fees, the fine on the ticket, and all court fees. The traffic violator will also suffer all additional penalties attached to being guilty of a traffic law violation. If the individual wins the contested hearing, the traffic fine and the court will waive all other penalties associated with the traffic offense. The individual will receive a refund of the court filing fee used to start the hearing process. The individual will only be liable to pay the attorney fees.

Ways to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Massachusetts

The only way to fight a traffic ticket in Massachusetts is through a contested hearing. A contested hearing is a court appearance to prove that a civil traffic citation received is undeserved.

Petitioners may request a court hearing through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation or by mail to the address on the back of the citation. The alleged offender must file a request for a hearing within 20 days after receiving the ticket or waive the right to a hearing. After the court schedules the hearing, they must appear before the court to contest the ticket. The accused violator will go before a clerk-magistrate or an assistant clerk-magistrate to present evidence to prove innocence at the hearing. The ticketing officer or a representative of the police department will also be present at this hearing to introduce the evidence on behalf of the police department. The magistrate will pronounce if the accused offender is guilty or innocent based on the evidence. If the sentence pronounced is not favorable, the defendant may appeal to the Appellate Division of the District Court or Boston Municipal Court. There is no right to a jury trial during a contested hearing.

How to Fight a Traffic Ticket Without Going to Court

Traffic offenders can fight tickets without appearing in court if an attorney goes to court in place of the accused person. Without an attorney, individuals cannot contest a traffic ticket without making an appearance in court.

How Do You Get a Traffic Ticket Reduced in Massachusetts?

A traffic ticket cannot be plea bargained, but the magistrate can reduce the payable fine if there are unique circumstances in the case. Nevertheless, the violator will still incur points to the driving record and face any other penalty which applies. There is no installment plan, and the traffic offender must pay all the applicable fees before a time set by the court or risk driving license revocation. The court can choose to extend the payment period, which is typically 20 days, upon request.

Can you Get a Speeding Ticket Dismissed in Massachusetts?

Yes, a Massachusetts speeding ticket can be dismissed in one of two ways during a contested hearing;

  • The accused person has to be pronounced not guilty by the magistrate or judge at the contested hearing or the appeal, respectively. Following this judgment, the court exonerates the accused person of all penalties associated with the ticket.
  • The magistrate at the clerk hearing or by the judge at the judge hearing if the ticketing officer or a representative from the police department is not present at the hearing. The magistrate or judge will decide that the accused person is not responsible for any violation and dismiss the ticket. This is less likely to happen at the judge’s hearing as the ticketing officer must be present at the judge’s hearing by law.

What Happens if You Plead Guilty to a Traffic Ticket in Massachusetts?

Traffic offenders can choose to plead guilty to the ticket by paying the ticket. If a person pleads guilty to a traffic ticket, such a person will be liable to all penalties attached to the ticket. The punishment includes:

A monetary fine.

  • The addition of surchargeable points to the person’s driving record with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).
  • A possible driver’s license revocation.

Beyond the financial implications, pleading guilty to a traffic ticket can cause future financial loss as the insurance premium for motorists with points increases. The insurance premium can rise by as much as 150%.

How to Find a Traffic Ticket Attorney in Massachusetts

Interested persons can search for traffic lawyers online. Traffic lawyers are often conversant with traffic laws and can find mistakes in the legal process to get a ticket dismissed. And if a dismissal is not possible, a traffic lawyer can attempt to obtain a fine reduction.

A traffic lawyer can also be engaged through the Off the Record application, which remotely connects an accused person with a traffic lawyer. The lawyers working with the service are lawyers with good traffic law knowledge and success in fighting traffic tickets.

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