Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crimes

I RECEIVED A MASSACHUSETTS TRAFFIC CITATION CHARGING A MOTOR VEHICLE CRIME. 

DO NOT WAIT for a court notice when a police officer give you your Massachusetts uniform citation. Your Massachusetts citation may look like a speeding ticket, but it is much more than that. It is formal notice that you will be summoned to a Massachusetts District Court or Boston Municipal Court as a defendant in a criminal case. It is also your opportunity to stop your case at a clerk-magistrate's hearing only if you actively ask for that hearing.  WE INSTRUCT YOU ON EXERCISING THIS CRITICAL RIGHT BELOW.  

You will receive a Massachusetts uniform citation for Massachusetts traffic offenses such as Reckless Operation, Negligent Operation, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Unlicensed Operation, Operating with a Suspended License.  Here are some pointers on responding to accusations that you committed these and other driving crimes.


THE POLICE MAY NOT ARREST YOU FOR MOST MASSACHUSETTS DRIVING OFFENSES.

Nearly all Massachusetts motor vehicle offenses require that the police hand you a Massachusetts uniform citation at the scene of the alleged driving offense. If an officer fails to hand you a citation, your case can often be dismissed under Massachusetts’ “no-fix” law (at Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90C, section 2).

Also, the police may not arrest you for MOST motor vehicle crimes. This includes operating a motor vehicle recklessly or negligently, unlicensed operation and operating a motor vehicle without a suspended license.  There are very few exceptions. You can be arrested for a drunk driving, ("OUI" or Operating Under the Influence in Massachusetts) and for reckless operation where there was serious bodily injury, for example. 

MASSACHUSETTS LAW REQUIRES THAT THE OFFICER HAND YOU A TRAFFIC TICKET OR CITATION AT THE SCENE.

If you are charged with a Massachusetts motor vehicle crime, the officer must hand you a motor vehicle citation. The citation is very important. You use it to appeal the ticket. That appeal is in the form of a Massachusetts Show Cause Hearing or Clerk-Magistrate's Hearing, as described on this page below.  

Serpa Law Office has had countless Massachusetts criminal motor vehicle cases dismissed for false or illegal arrests.

Common motor vehicle crimes in Massachusetts include:

  • Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle
  • Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle
  • Leaving the Scene of An Accident with Property Damage
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Person Injury
  • Operating a Motor Vehicle with a Suspend License
  • Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle
  • Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol (OUI)

The Massachusetts citation requirement is important. It is a formal notice to you as the driver on the scene of what Massachusetts motor vehicle crime you are being charged with.  It is also a formal record of the officer’s alleged observation. The reason for the “no-fix” law is to lock the officer into his accusation. An officer can no longer “fix” a ticket after the event once he has issued the citation.

Massachusetts’ criminal courts have written some exceptions to the “no-fix” law. The most common occurs if an officer cannot identify the driver at the scene of a motor vehicle crime. This occurs most often in leaving the scene of an accident cases. In these cases, the officer must mail or deliver a citation as soon as possible after identifying the driver.  However, a delay in mailing a Massachusetts uniform citation after the driver is identified still violates the law.  Your Massachusetts criminal motor vehicle case can still be dismissed.

The second exception to the citation requirement is a bit more tenuous. A violator who should know that he is being charged with a crime, based on the circumstances, has “notice” and doesn’t need the citation, according to Massachusetts criminal courts. This is obvious in drunk driving offenses where the driver is under arrest, taking field sobriety tests and being offered a breathalyzer. Massachusetts courts have decided that in such obvious cases, a driver may not need a citation to know that he is being accused of drunk driving.

Finally, the "no-fix" law has some standard exceptions for serious motor vehicle crimes where a death occurred.


YOU HAVE AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO DECLINE TO ANSWER AN OFFICERS' QUESTIONS AT THE SCENE OR AFTER A MOTOR VEHICLE STOP.

Never forget your right to remain silent.  This sacred right in our Constitution means that you cannot be forced to answer an officer's questions.  This is true at the scene of a motor vehicle stop, at your house if your are contacted by telephone or anywhere else.  My advice is do not answer police questions.  Politely provide your license and registration if you are at the scene and leave it at that.


APPEALING YOUR MASSACHUSETTS TICKET: YOUR CRIMINAL MOTOR VEHICLE UNIFORM CITATION IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY FOR A CLERK MAGISTRATE’S HEARING IN MOTOR VEHICLE OFFENSES.

Massachusetts Clerk-Magistrate’s hearings are a crucial opportunity to convince the court to stop a criminal complaint from issuing against you. A clerk-magistrate has an enormous amount of discretion to stop your Massachusetts criminal case before it makes it to court, If you win at this point, there will be no entry of the case on your Massachusetts criminal record

Serpa Law Office has had hundreds upon hundreds of these cases dismissed prior to arraignment. The result: no criminal record of the event anywhere on any database.

You exercise the important right to a clerk-magistrate’s hearing using your Massachusetts uniform citation. If the citation charges you with a criminal offense, you have FOUR DAYS to request a clerk-magistrate’s hearing. 

You must do so by taking the citation to the local district court that has jurisdiction over the location of the alleged incident. The officer is required to write the name and address of the court on the bottom right corner of the citation. If he does not, you should investigate the proper court and deliver the citation to the clerk’s office there. CONTACT SERPA LAW OFFICE for assistance at this crucial moment.

If you are late to request your clerk-magistrate’s hearing, all is not lost. Serpa Law Office has often succeeded in getting our clients a clerk-magistrate’s hearing after the deadline.

Errors in this process can lead to dismissal of your Massachusetts criminal motor vehicle case. Serpa Law Office has obtained hundreds, maybe thousands, of dismissals based on these common charging errors. Call us if you received a Massachusetts uniform citation and want the absolute best representation.