I'm a NMA member who asked for various types of assistance over the last few months trying to fight a speeding ticket. Don't know if you care or not, but just wanted to let you know I was found not responsible for my ticket.
The officer didn't show at my appeal hearing. But even if he did, I think I had a good chance to beat the ticket. I did a public records request of the officer's training records, and the police never responded to me.
I just wanted to thank you for for your assistance in the matter. The entire NMA website was a valuable resource, giving me all sorts of ideas that I never would have thought of on my own. Perhaps the most important thing it gave me was hope. Thanks.
Thanks for your help, I was found NR when I was able to show it as physically impossible for the officer to be able to make a visual estimate of my speed for a quarter mile. They sent an old guy from the PD to read the ticket and asked what 90/17 was when I referenced it.
I wanted to write and let you know that at my court hearing on Aug. 3 the officer failed to show. Actually nobody from my town's police department showed at all. It was so exciting to stand up there at the defense side and have the court clerk call for the police department and then have an officer get on his radio and radio for the police department. The judge waited a few minutes and then said, "Ma'am I'm finding you not responsible."
As I mentioned in my email before, I was so prepared thanks to NMA and I let the officer who ticketed me and our police chief know how angry I was at the ticket and how hard I was going to fight it. I sent 2 discovery requests and when I didn't receive a response to the 2nd one I went and told the police chief that the National Motorist Assn. says I have a right to the information.
So thank you again so much for providing such a service to those ticketed in Massachusetts. I promised myself if I won in court I'd join the NMA, so I will join. I'll also make sure to tell friends and to join in your letter writing campaigns. The people I've told so far have all said without fail that they've always wanted to fight their speeding tickets.
Thank you Ivan. Best wishes to you and NMA!
I had my day in court to appeal the Magistrate's decision...and was found not responsible. They dropped the $200 fee and points.
I could not have done it without the help of yourself and the NMA. I'm not sure if the judge took mercy for me being pro se or if my cross-examination was just acceptable. But I somehow managed to survive this ordeal and keep the shirt on my back.
Thank you again for your counsel and time.
I went court today. My case was the first. The officer took the stage, testified as to the incident on the day in question. He claimed I was doing 51mph in a 30mph, zone which was thickly settled. He went through the script about visually estimating my speed between 50-60mph and confirming with the radar. However, he erroneously stated his vehicle was in the southbound lane (problem is, his car was in the northbound lane, divided hwy, the ticket even stated Lake Avenue Northbound). He went on to say I was driving towards him from route 9 in the Southbound lane. He also claimed he observed my speed about 200-300 feet away. When he was done, the judge ( a young female judge, by the way) asked me if I had any questions for the officer.
I went on to question the officer's location, even gave him pictures that I took to confirmed his location on that day. He time after time mistakenly cited the wrong side of the street as where the alleged violation took place. I asked him questions about radar accuracy, calibration, familiarity with MGL 90/17, etc. My initial plan was to pin the officer down to a specific distance and time to do a simple rate of speed (r=d/t) to counter his claim. Needless to say, I was very successful at doing this. I went back and forth about locations and distance from where he first observed my car speeding and how long his radar observed my speed. He claimed I was cited in a thickly settled area driving from route 9 and he observed me about 300 feet away. My goal was to show the judge if he observed my speed for less than 1/8 of a mile (660 feet), then I wouldn't be in violation of 90/17 (which requires a specific speed distance).
I then asked the officer about whether the radar was calibrated on the day in question. As you would imagined, he claimed it was. In fact he stated he was the officer in charge of the radar calibration and recertification. He also claimed the unit was in good working condition and did not need any maintenance. I then asked the officer to show the court documentation that the radar was annually checked. He said I had the documents. I said I did not have any documents. He said his captain issued me the documents that I requested for in my letter of discovery (public request record). He said the captain at the Worcester PD had written me with an estimate because he gave my request letter to the captain. I told the judge I did not received any such document.
The judge had had enough. Hence, she asked me to tell my side of the story. I took the stand, told the judge I was on my way to work, and had stopped in the median from another street (presented my pictures for clarification) because of an oncoming vehicle moving in the same direction as I was about to get into ( that is moving northbound, towards the rear of the officer's Ford Explorer parked about 1200 feet north of my direction). I went on to explained that at the last minute, that vehicle made a turn at which time I got into the same lane and drove north toward the officer's location. The judge asked me how fast were you going, I told her between 30-35mph. I explained half way through this distance, I noticed the officer's vehicle parked north of me. I then slowed down further. I demonstrated using the picture that the officer was mistaken about where the alleged violation took place.
I told the judge, contrary to the officer's claim, there was no posted speed limit except an advisory (yellow 30mph limit) speed limit sign. Then I showed her where the sign was posted using my picture; she took note of it. I went on to explain that even if I was going 51mph as the officer claim, given the distance between his vehicle and mine, there was no way I was in violation of 90/17 since according to the officer's testimony, I was about 300 feet away from him when he observed my speed (well short of the required 1/8 mile or 660 feet as required by 90/17). Then I took my calculator and demonstrated to the judge using my Google map estimate of the distance. I demonstrated to the judge that half of the total distance between my vehicle and the officer's was 630feet (still less than 1/8 mile or 660 feet). Then came the deal breaker.
To confirme my testimony about no regulatory speed limit sign being posted on the side of the road where the alleged violation took place, I pulled out a letter from the Worcester Public Works Engineering department that stated "Lake Avenue North did not have a regulatory speed limit but an advisory prima facie speed limit." The judge read it then said I have heard enough. But before letting me take my seat for her final verdict, she noted "you are the first person I have seen come to court this thoroughly prepared." I thought that said something positive for me and felt at that moment, she was leaning in my favor. Moreover, as I testified, she seemed to nod and acknowledge every time I made a good point as if to agree with my reasoning and evidence presentation.
The officer tried a last ditch effort to tell the judge that the area was a park in spite of my claim that there was an advisory speed. But the judge said in her final statement "I HAVE DOUBTS GIVEN THE DEFENDANT'S TESTIMONY AND IF I AM GOING TO ERR, I WILL ERR ON THE SIDE OF THE DEFENDANT. AS A RESULT, I AM GOING TO FIND YOU NOT RESPONSIBLE. PLEASE DRIVE SAFELY AND BE MORE CAREFUL AS THIS AREA IS THICKLY SETTLED." And to this I replied, " thank you your honor."
I hope this helps someone else in the future who is cited on Lake Avenue North from Sunderland's st towards route 9 right within the vicinity of Lake Park in Worcester, Ma. There is indeed a divided hwy and cops usually set speed traps there because it is supposedly a thickly settled area.
Dave - 1/11
Just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that today I beat a ticket using your advice - which I found doing a quick web search last night!
When I went in the first time, but didn't elaborate much and the magistrate found me guilty. I don't blame her, because I was ill prepared but Im sure it also had a bit to do with "female jealousy," if you know what I mean, as I am okay looking and she is not - and I'm not being catty.
Nevertheless, prior to finding your website I did some research and expected that to help me get off. I figured simply using the fact around the area where I got stopped was a curvy road, the speed limit sign was not posted from the street I was coming in from until after the officer stopped me, and I figured I could just charm the rest of it with my perfect driving record.
I went in the courtroom to wait my turn and had to sit through some really petty stuff, driving under the influence, theft, house break-ins... I figured the judge would be sympathetic and I hadn't seen the officer who stopped me so I felt good. Then the first traffic case was heard, someone who ran a yellow light, there were some exchanges between the officer and the defendant and the judge found her guilty. I was glad to have done my homework. My turn came about and the judge called us both to the front. We had done a collective swearing-in ceremony and just had to get to the "story." The officer started by explaining where he was and what he was doing there and proceeded to say "the defendant was going 40 miles an hour" at which point I said "objection your honor."
This was a very relaxed setting and the state troopers in the back all burst out laughing. The judge very apologetically said "okay, well, do you want to wait until he tells his story and then you can ask him questions?" I said "of course your honor" and he asked the officer to continue. As noted on your website, the officer was totally thrown off guard and didn't remember where he left off and essentially said "she was going at 40 miles in a 25 mile zone while holding her GPS."
The judge then asked me if I had questions or wanted to tell my side of the story and I said "thank you for having me in your court your honor, good morning and good morning to you officer such and such." I told my side of the story mentioning that I was lost, was holding the GPS because of it and because of a curvy road that I was not familiar with it was unlikely that I was going faster than 35 miles an hour, which was the speed limit from the road I turned in from. The judge very nicely asked if I had any questions for the officer and I did and asked what part of my car he pointed at to obtain the reading. The officer was confused by my question, he honestly looked humbled as I doubt no one had ever questioned him before and he said the front, then I asked what he thought his accuracy was (as per the case in your website) and the officer was again confused and said he didn't know. I asked then to admit the pictures of the area, the judge had the officer look at them to confirm. He agreed and he did and then I asked if he thought the reading from his beam would be accurate in that area, and again he didn't know. The judge had a good poker face and when he asked if I had more questions I was unsure as to what his verdict would be but I didn't have anything else to add. The judge said he found me to be not responsible and I breathed with relief!
Thank you for posting your website! It gave me the courage to stand up in court as I don't think I would have been as such by simply showing up!
Clara - 12/10
Yesterday I won my Clerk Magistrate hearing at Boston Municipal Court House. I came extremely prepared, thanks to the NMA Massachusetts web site, dress to impress, and brought a witness. I was only at the Desk for about a minute when I mentioned that I was on the Tobin Bridge, when the Magistrate interrupted me and asked me how many year I have be driving in Massachusetts. I responded 19 years. She looked at my record, and said you only have one previous violation in all your years of driving, and it was in the State of NH. I find you Not Responsible, your a good driver. I couldn't believe it.
However, that speed trap need to be address. After all my research the 30 MPH speed limit is illegal, as you know. The Speed limit signs are too small (24" by 30") for a limited access expressway, and on top of all that the Mass State Police charge the $50 head injury Surcharge, which, as you know, does not apply to Mass Turnpike Authority Roads, under 730 CMR 708 (6)(c).
What can I do to help address this speed trap, as I would love to shut it down. Even though I won my case, my fight is not over yet.
Thank You and the NMA for the help!
Hi John -
Thanks to the insight of Ivan, who called me within minutes of getting my email, my son was found "not responsible". Ivan said to just relax and prove that he's a good kid that deserves a second chance. The Magistrates don't care much for the new JOL laws for speeding either...
My son went in and didn't do so well talking about the situation. The magistrate guided him by saying things like "I'll pretend I didn't hear that" and "I think you want to tell me about what you did that night". He did plead that he is a good/safe driver and deserves a second chance.
The magistrate was firm, but extremely nice and based on the fact that, in her words, this was a "minor" infraction with "major" ramifications to him and his family that she was going to give him a break and find him "not responsible".
He did get a haircut and dressed in slacks, shirt, tie and jacket. I never said a word except "Thank you" to the magistrate and the officer as we were leaving.
So - luckily I won't need to go the next level, but I appreciate your offer of help and I'm glad I found the NMA through this experience! I also feel like even though this was extremely stressful, that my son learned a lot more from this than he would have had the police officer just given him a warning that night. Maybe that's what the goal of the new law is.
Thanks to the information on the NMA website I came prepared with my list of questions, a copy of the Speed Study from MassHighway and a certified letter return receipt from the Mass State Police. Opps...they failed to send me the information I requested and the judge found me Not Responsible.
I ended up riding down in the elevator with the Trooper I was questioning and he said I did a good job! Thanks to your help!!!
I was fully prepared and ready to rock. (thanks to NMA!) He walked in at about 9:10am (the officer) and sat down in the back of the courtroom. He was holding 2 pieces of paper. Then he was staring at me off and on the whole time we were there.
About 5min before they called me, he got up and left the courtroom... When the judge called - no officer!
Dismissed ticket. Yay!
Thanks for your advice on fighting a speeding ticket in MA. I just won my case! It was in court on the day before Thanksgiving with a judge and the ticketing officer. I watched about 10 people before me fail. No one won. But I did! Thanks again for your help.
Mike L. 11/07
Just a quick note to update you and let you know I did indeed challenge this ticket. In the end I got my hearing and got off without penalty. Not sure if it related to the fact I'm almost 9 months pregnant and they went easy on me- I was all prepared to present my case but the police office dismissed it immediately and found me not responsible without my uttering a word!
I'm glad I found your site - otherwise I would have just paid the fine.
Since joining the MNA a few years ago I have had 5 tickets. I beat the first four, all using tactics learned from the website.
My most recent was a loss at the hearing before the Judge. I did, however have the $170 fine reduced to $120. The fine and the $20 appeal were all reimbursed two weeks later by the Traffic Justice Program.
I was found not responsible today! Certainly, the free information available on the NMA MA web site was very helpful in giving me direction and hope and in organizing my questions for the trooper, so I will join for one year. The judge was apparently amused by my efforts and interrupted so often with directions I didn't have a chance to make my case. And since I hadn't had a speeding ticket in 20 years, he called me not responsible for the citation.
I wanted to send you a thank you and tell you about my experience fighting a speeding ticket I received.
I immediately appealed my ticket and after a brief web search, I found your site. I went to the initial hearing, and it happened just as you said. There was a magistrate who was clearly there to weed out the masses. I chose my words carefully and was found responsible. Of course I chose to appeal, which also cost me $40 (not exactly sure of the amount).
I used the form letter you posted and sent it certified mail right away requesting documentation. The day before the hearing I received a letter from the city asking me for a check of $150 to cover the officer's expenses! I couldn't believe this, but since the hearing was the next day, I decided to show up and ask for a not responsible hearing based on the fact that I did not receive my requested documents within the 10 days as required by law, as well as the fact that the officer did not have me sign the ticket as the law also states.
I showed up a little early the day of my hearing. All in all it was pretty nerve-wracking. My initial impression was that court rooms are definitely laid out to indimidate the accused. I listened to non-traffic related cases while my heart pounded. I was VERY nervous, but I kept telling myself that I came prepared.
I saw the officer who wrote me the ticket when I came in, so I figured I wouldn't get a not responsible finding based on him not showing. When my name was called, however they found me not a fault because of a no show by the officer, but I know I saw him sitting just to my left! He even glared at me when I went up to the microphone.
All I can figure is that they looked at my request for records and didn't want to deal with the matter. At any rate, I high tailed it out of there before they changed their minds and called me back in!
My experience here has taught me that these bearocrats rely heavily on ignorance on the part of the public to maintain their revenue stream. With a small amount of effort on our part, it's relitively easy to catch them off guard.
Thank you very much for your site. You helped me save well over $1000.
I just wanted to write in a thank you for having such an informative site.
I was pulled over at a speed trap set up by on officer on the Longfellow Bridge in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The officer was waving over one car after another, in what looked like a free for all fund raising session. He claimed to have clocked me going 52 in a 30 zone, resulting in a $220 citation.
Immediately after getting the ticket I raced home to see what could be done about beating this bogus LIDAR ticket. It became clear to me after reading all of the information on the site that it was really my duty to contest the citation. I got the ticket in May. My hearing with the Magistrate at Cambridge district was scheduled for beginning of October. I did not receive any notification of this hearing until a week before it happened. The whole time in between I was wondering if my licence had been suspended, because they had lost my paperwork. Luckily the paper pushers in Cambridge did manage to process everything properly, albeit after quite some time, and I went in for my hearing as scheduled.
There were about twenty cases scheduled to be heard around the same time as mine. Only one other person actually showed up. When I went in for the hearing the magistrate introduced himself and the officer, a man that he was clearly friendly with. After he read out the citation, the magistrate went on to lecture me about how scientifically accurate the LIDAR gun was, and that there was no way that I hadn't been speeding. He also told me that he sees more tickets from this one spot than any other. This was somehow supposed to convince me that I was guilty? I tried to challenge the citation by pointing out that there was a car passing me at the time in the left hand lane; this vehicle had not been pulled over, despite going quite a bit faster than me. In any case the hearing was basically a situation where the magistrate had no interest whatever in thinking that I could have been doing anything other than what the officer claimed. He ruled against me, and I appealed the decision.
T prepared myself for my appeal by writing out six pages of questions for the officer. I was not sure that I would beat the ticket, but I knew that I was going to have a good time questioning this man at length. As I was sitting waiting for the 9:00am hearing, I overheard a conversation between an officer and a woman who worked at the Cambridge district court. She had been pulled over a few weeks prior, and was asking the officer, a friend of hers, if he would be so kind as to let her off. He said something to the effect of, "Oh yeah....Sully is a great guy, no problem this is no sweat, you're one of us..." It is no mystery that this sort of thing happens all the time, but to see it happen so brazenly in front of a couple of people awaiting their appeals was ridiculous. During the conversation, I wrote down a few more questions for the officer about preferential treatment. I then asked the fellow next to me, a man that didn't appear to have anything prepared, if he would be my witness to the conversation that we had just both seen and heard. He said no. I thought that was a bad karmic decision on his part.
Finally the judge arrived at about 1/4 past the hour and we all shuffled in. The only officer present was not the officer that pulled me over. This was great news for me, although I knew that this would not get me off right away unless the judge felt that was prudent. Well, because the officer did not show, I did indeed get off with a ruling of not responsible. This made be very happy, and I felt very happy that I decided to go through with the process after reading your site. As I turned and walked out of the room I said "good luck, Tex" to the guy who refused to witness for me. Based on what he had brought with him, a crumpled envelope, I can only assume that things did not go his way. Thanks again for your excellent site.
Today was my hearing regarding my breakdown lane violation so as promised I am keeping you up to date.
The hearing session was very short and the clerk asked me what happened after the police guy said what I was accused for.
I explained that I was stuck in traffic behind a truck and I was on my way to make a right turn. I noticed that there are cars passing me on the right so I pulled to the right to see around the truck and there was this cop waving the traffic through so I was following the cars. Then I realized that he was waving everybody into a parking lot of a car dealer and was giving everyone a ticket.
So I said I was not traveling in the breakdown lane, I was just following the signals of the cop. The clerk said, okay you have won the case, and released me.
Thank you again for you support and feel free to publish my case on your web pages.
Wolfgang - 10/05
Thanks for coordinating and maintaining the NMA Mass page. I didn't end up having a protracted struggle with the local government, but your page provided information, direction, and hope.
My story: I was driving on the connector ramp between the end of the Mass Pike and the Ted Williams Tunnel on the last Friday afternoon of the month in July 2004 (right after the DNC). A cop was sitting in the right hand shoulder and flagged me down. I had out of state license/plates and it was clear this was just a trap. The officer kindly gave me the minimum fine possible ($100) and advised me to come to court.
I transferred my license over to Mass within a few weeks after that. I found your website and felt confident that I should contest. Finally I got my court date for this morning (3/23/05). In the South Boston County Court, I went in and sat across the table from the magistrate with an officer on one side. The officer read from the ticket. I said I was sorry and had learned my lesson, explained that the officer was kind and gracious, gave the min fine, etc., that I was here for new job, and that this was my first violation (I'd had seven years of clean driving in PA). It turns out the magistrate personally knew the officer who pulled me over, so he seemed pleased that I had described the officer as kind, compassionate, nice, etc. He then said, "We'll continue in the good graces of Sgt ____ and find you not responsible. Go spend the money you make from the new job wisely, and become a Sox fan!"
If I hadn't known the details of how the MA system worked, I probably wouldn't have fought for a small ticket. But you are right--it's completely worth it!
Stephen - 3/05
In my search for help, I've stumbled upon the following bulletin by Mass. Supervisor of Public Records.
It seems that many police depts. in Massachusetts do not seem to pay attention to laws they are supposedly enforcing, as even the Supervisor of Public Records, Alan N. Cote, notes, "I have discovered a troubling trend developing within the police community."
Looks like the PDs do not spend enough time studying the laws that apply to them. They should have this plastered on the walls of every Police Department.
I just wanted to thank you for the great information about fighting traffic tickets. Not only are the stories and cases interesting and informative, but they also give a person confidence to fight their own after hearing about what others have done. I came upon your website a few years ago after receiving a ticket that I didn't think was fair. Since then, I've had 2 more tickets ;) and finally wanted to share my own.
Pulling out of my Dracut, MA suburban neighborhood at 6:30am on my way to work where there is very little traffic, I fully stopped at a stop sign (can't see around the bend), and started to take a left. Just then a cruiser came around the bend. I paused, gave the "i'm sorry" wave, and proceeded since I was in the way. Needless to say he turned around and pulled me over. When he came to the window I just said "sorry, I didn't see you, you don't have any lights on (dig - i had MY lights on)". He took my license and reg. and came back with a "failure to yield" violation. Are you kidding me?? So I sent it in to fight it. When I showed up at Lowell court I was fully prepared with pictures of the intersection, the rule about if you have your wipers on, you should have your lights on, etc.) I was called into a small room with the police rep. and clerk magistrate where they told me my ticket was "lost" and I was found NOT RESPONSIBLE and sent on my way. Easy! Actually a bit disappointed I didn't get to argue it!
Leaving work in Lynn, MA I was travelling a 1/2 mile long side road parallel to Rt. 107 Western Ave. When I came to the end of the road a cruiser was parked on the opposite side and had turned his blue lights on. As there are normally cars parked randomly on the side I actually thought he had pulled someone ELSE over. But he was out of his car and pointing at me. He said I was speeding, 36 in a 20 mph zone. I just made a lame excuse saying I didn't realize the speed limit (of course I use this road twice a day, 5x a week but who's going to drive 20 mph?) No, there's no school zone anywhere close.
I recalled your website and the tidbit about illegal 20mph speed limits in Lynn. So I followed the similar traffic case from "C.P." and went to Lynn city hall to ask for the traffic regulation for the road, Camden St. I was told that's controlled by Mass Highway. On their website I first tried a simple email asking about the regulation and they told me to send my request via snailmail. I sent a registered letter to Charles Sterling. By this time I had procrastinated so I called the court to ask for another date. By phone they allowed me to change it, but only a few weeks later. Luckily I received a letter back from Mass Highway within a week stating there was no approval for a 20mph limit on that road. yay!
So I show up at Lynn court, this time a larger room with 15 other people all listening. I was next to last and was amazed at the amount of people that show up just to say "no i didn't" and leave with a less fine but still on their insurance. Only a few chose to appeal for $20. When it was my turn to speak, I immediately brought up the illegal speed limit and then followed with saying if the road was defaulted to thickly settled which is 30 mph over a 1/4 mile distance, then I didn't think I drove over 30 for half the road (i probably did), but there certainly is no proof unless the officer tagged me for that long on radar. The magistrate had a concerned look and then asked the representing officer to look into the matter. He said he would and even made a comment about they probably wouldn't pull someone over for driving 36 in a 30. So after I was found "NOT RESPONSIBLE", the officer asked if he could make a copy of my Mass Highway document. I told him to keep it. If that didn't feel good enough... 2 weeks later Camden St. has a nice new 30mph speed limit sign!!!
Going home from shopping after work, I am on the backroads of Methuen, MA and come to a stop sign. I stopped?, looked left, and took a right turn. A few seconds later I see a cruiser coming up behind me with the blue lights on. I start to edge to the side (again it can't be me - I think he is merely on his way to a call). But, after catching up, he slows behind me. At this time I am 7 months pregnant and stick my belly out as far possible - perhaps he won't ticket the poor pregnant woman? Maybe I should offer the bucket of KFC in the seat next to me? Oh well. He says I didn't stop (oh i probably didn't, but i knew i stopped enough to look) and that there was a recent fatal accident at the intersection, said he had to keep neighbors happy and monitor the situation, blah blah. Then tells me about the back of the ticket and I can fight it..... AND if he doesn't show up to court, then I won't have to pay it. (hint hint). So I send it in and the court date ends up being in June, 10 days after I had my baby. Procrastinating again, I call up Lawrence court to ask to change the date but they are not as easy. I had to write a letter with my excuse and fax it to them. But I was pleasantly surprised when my reschedule came in the mail a few days later for October 1.
Suspicious that like the other courts I will only see the magistrate and police rep (this time another small room, just the 3 of us), and the ticketing officer is not required until the appeal, I bring enough pictures to make an argument. I ask about where the officer may have been parked and maybe he had an obstructed view and didn't see me stop AT the "stop line" but only roll thru the edge of the intersection afterwards. Sounds good. Well the magistrate didn't really care what I had, mentioned the accident, and asked if I wanted to appeal. I immediately said yes, and went to pay my $20. Three weeks later I show up to the courtroom at 8:55. They told me to make sure I was "ON TIME!" court starts at 9am! I am the first person in and sit down on one of the benches. Slowly the courtroom starts filling up around me with "interesting" people talking about guns and such - great. I notice a Methuen police officer, but can't recognize him to be the guy who pulled me over (had he lost weight?). At 9:45 the court session is finally started, the first ticket is called up (not me) and the officer has some comments, the woman is found responsible. The officer immediately leaves the courtroom. Great! I am called up next and "due to the officer not being present" I am found "NOT RESPONSIBLE."
So again, thanks for all the info, it definitely helped me! If my stories can help anyone else, feel free to use them.
My husband was ticketed for failure to stop at a stop sign. In the 30 years I have known him he has never failed to stop at a sign or light. He has always been meticulously careful about stopping as required. I can tell you with 100 percent surety that he most certainly did not fail to stop in this instance. He appeared in traffic court this morning and just reported this back to me:
"I was in and out in 20 minutes. The representing officer cited my past driving record (back to 1977! It was obviously all they had). The clerk was quiet for about 2 minutes, then said, 'The officer's statement has no bearing on my decision (yeah, right), I find you responsible. You may appeal this decision to a judge.' So I arranged for the appeal. At worst we'll be out an extra $20. At best it will only be $20. The appeal date is set for Tuesday, October 12th."
This is absolutely ludicrous. How is it that the burden of proof is on the accused and not the accuser as it seems to be in more serious alleged infractions. Does innocent until proven guilty not apply in traffic court???? The monetary cost is minimal but I am outraged based on principle.
Last January my very dearest girlfriend was beaten to death in her home by her ex-boyfriend while her two young sons (one severely disabled) hid in the bathtub. Everyone knows who did it. He was picked up immediately and even started to confess before stopping and asking for a lawyer (which of course he was provided without a charge). He failed a polygraph. He is still in town and folks report that he has lost a great deal of weight, has sunken eyes, looks like someone ravaged by disease.THIS MAN IS STILL WALKING AROUND A FREE MAN -- why? Because the police have not yet processed all the evidence to convict him. A murderer is presumed innocent until proven guilty and is given free legal representation, but a driver is not? AM I MISSING SOMETHING????????
Ellen C, MBA
Special Education Advocate (and Massachusetts driver)
Thank you very much for your help. And many thanks to NMA and the traffic ticket defense kit.
I had the hearing at the Cambridge district court today. I saw several guys in front of me that went in without anything prepared and had solemn faces coming out. I did not expect much out of it, so I was ready to appeal. I was prepared with a full-blown presentation demonstrating with pictures showing the officer had an obstructed view - I even had an aerial photograph of the strip of the roadway that I found on the US Geological Survey site.
So I started to tell him that I have been driving home on the same street for the past four and a half years, not any faster not any slower, and I was not sure why the officer identified me as the speeder that registered on his radar gun. I haven't gotten to the point about the absence of radar log and police log or that the Police Department denied me the documents I requested, when the magistrate stopped me and asked whether I knew what the speed limit of that road was. After I recited what I remembered from MGL 90/17, he said, "I am going to find you not responsible based on your good driving record. Watch your speed and I do not want to see you here again."
I was so excited when I heard that! And I came out with a big smile on my face.
Thank you again.
I just wanted to thank you for the website. It is extremely helpful. I was stopped for speeding on the Mass Pike last November and decided to fight it. I had no idea where to start but your site told me everything I needed to know. Especially all the documents I needed to request from the state police.
It turned out the Tuning Forks Certificate of Accuracy has expired about a month and a half before I was stopped. I showed it to the judge and he asked the Trooper to explain why he was operating a radar gun without proper documentation and the trooper didn't have much to say. After that the judge declared me not responsible.
Once again thank you for your time and commitment.
My hearing ended two hours ago. They scheduled me for the 9:00 AM session but sent correspondence indicating that I should appear at 11:00 AM. Due to the administrative error I was found Not Responsible. Weston will just need to look elsewhere for revenue.
I encourage all who are reading to fight on if you have the resolve. You may just catch a lucky break. With the NMA's help you will be among the best prepared in the courtroom; perhaps better prepared than the court itself.
My fight has just begun. I have uncovered some issues in my town that I will address. I appreciate the NMA's enlightenment.
Thanks again for all the info. Just got back from court. I was found "Not Responsible." I was cited by a State Trooper but they had me in the Boston PD pile. By the time they read my name, the State Trooper representing the Commonwealth had already left.
After waiting for over an hour, I walked into the magistrate's office with my notes and my ticket in hand. This was really important to me because I had already received a speeding ticket in the previous year at the same spot by the same officer for the same charges. I was not going THERE though; I did not know I had the option of fighting it last year, so I just took the cut in my fine from the Magistrate and walked away feeling happy, since it was my first offense. Little did I know I would be back there a year later...
This time, though, I had my facts together (thanks to your website), and I was ready to go for an appeal if necessary.
I said, "Good morning, Sir," to both the magistrate and the officer in attendance. The magistrate said he read charges of speeding, going 45mph in a 30mph. The officer will read his report and then I can give my comments. The officer read the ticket:
"Officer S. clocked you at 450 N. Quincy Street going 45mph in a 30mph zone. He used his Lidar Radar which is very accurate."
The end of his report...
The magistrate turned to me and asked for my comments. I said, "I was not speeding, Sir." He asked me how fast was I going. I looked at him and said, "When I saw the officer, I glanced down at my speedometer. I was going around 37, 38 mph."
The magistrate turned to the officer and asked, "Didn't you say that Officer S. used the Lidar Radar... which is very accurate?"
The officer said, "Yes. That is the equipment we all use now."
The magistrate nodded and began to look through my files, the printout that he had in front of him.
I said, "Excuse me, Sir. I understand that the equipment is accurate. However, I truly believe that the officer clocked the car in front of me. There were several cars in front of me, and behind me. I was going with the flow of traffic. In fact, I asked the officer about the car in front of me. The officer said that the car in front of me was only going 40mph."
I looked up and smiled oh so angelically.
The officer said, "This new radar is very accurate. (AGAIN)... It can track a single vehicle over 1/4 of a mile."
I nodded and said, "Well, Sir, I understand that. However, that part of the road I am sure you know is a hill and since the Officer could only see the vehicles when they come over the hill... well... and it is not 1/4 of a mile... well.. Sir... I could see how the Officer might have clocked a different vehicle instead of mine." I also threw in a few comments about what a safe driver I have always been... and... how this was just after my accident (not a car accident, I mangled my knee at work) so I know I was driving even more carefully. Then I looked at the magistrate and asked, "So where do we go from here?"
He looked a bit surprised. He said, "I am not sure. I have not made my decision yet."
I said, "I understand. Thank you, Sir." and smiled angelically again... ~wink, wink~
Somehow I just knew by then it was over. He coughed and looked at my records. He said it looks like I have a clean driving record and except for that speeding ticket last year and in 1987, there is no evidence that I am a reckless driver.
Then he asked me how far Louis Street is from N. Quincy Street. I said not far. He asked if I was familiar with the area. I said, "Yes, Sir. I am very familiar with the area."
He said, "So then you are aware of the speed limits?"
I smiled and said, "Yes, Sir. I am very aware of the speed limit. That is why I do not speed."
I thought the officer was going to choke when the magistrate said, "I like her honesty. She did admit that she was going over 30mph but everyone goes over by a few miles."
I piped up and said, "Yes, Sir. Again, there is a hill there so it is difficult not to go a bit over but I am always aware of my speed."
The magistrate told the officer, not me. "I am going to put her as Not Responsible. Please record that for the record."
I said, "Thank You, Sir." and smiled really big now. Then I asked, "Is there anything else I need to do for the record?"
The magistrate said, "No nothing else but I almost forgot to give you a copy for your files. Have a good day and be safe out there. We don't want to see you here again."
I said, "Thank You, Sir. And no, I do not want to see you again either... ~chuckle~ at least not here under these circumstances."
I smiled at the officer as he held the door open and I said, "Have a good day, Sir."
Then I smiled at the next guy coming in because he was also waiting to see if my strategy worked. I shook my head "yes!!" and winked as I left so he would know that it did.
Those were the two sweetest words I have ever heard, "Not Responsible". Thank you once again for all of your assistance.
Sir, you may have received several letters on this already. Newton Police Chief Jose Codero has essentially turned the nice, very wealthy suburb into one huge speed trap. He has ordered his officers to pull over motorists for going just a few miles per hour over posted limits. The officers are operating on a quota system, whereby they must write a certain number of citations per shift, or come up with a good excuse as to why they did not.
I don't live in Newton, but I grew up there. The city has curvy, tree-lined roads, and posted speed limits change abruptly. Basically, some roads in Newton are the perfect setup for speed traps.
Local newspaper columnist Howie Carr wrote this piece on the situation in Newton. I have been told that Weston and Wellesley are performing similar actions. (as if those towns didn't have enough money.) Have a read, and thanks for the informative site.
I had my ticket appeal today in front of a judge and I was found "Not Responsible." You probably hear this a lot but, thank you and the good folks at the NMA. Although I won by default (the officer didn't show up), this is the first time I'd gone into traffic court and felt that I had a really good chance at winning. I believe that the officer probably didn't show up because I exercised my rights in investigating the facts of the citation. All of this information would not have been brought together so well if it weren't for the people at NMA.
I definitely appreciated your patience with all of my questions and the useful information you provided me. I also appreciated the information available on the website and in the Legal Defense Kit. I definitely support the NMA's position on traffic tickets and will advise anyone to join NMA for that cause alone.
YIPEE!!!! I won my appeal!
I WON !!! I WON !!! I WON !!! I WON !!! I WON !!! I WON !!! WON !!!
Now that the Appeals Court has found me "not responsible," I thought I'd pass along an interesting tale about the Massachusetts public information law (Massachusetts General Law Chapter 66: Section 10). In retrospect, I should have kept you updated about this situation since you probably already know about cases like mine. But I think you should be aware of it in case this is news to you, too.
After being cited for speeding in a posted speed zone, I visited town hall to request a copy of the speed regulation that the town is required to enact (per Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90: Section 18) to establish a speed zone. They refused. They claimed the records would be somewhere in the town's archives -- which are off-limits to the public -- and they didn't have the resources to conduct a search for them.
So I went home and wrote a formal request for the speed regulation, citing Massachusetts General Law Chapter 66: Section 10 ("Public inspection and copies of records"). I sent the letter via certified mail with return receipt, and filed a copy of the letter in my records.
When town hall hadn't responded within the required 10 days of receiving my request, I contacted the Secretary of the Commonwealth and provided them with copies of the letter, the certified mail receipt, and the signed return receipt.
After they were contacted by the Secretary's office, town hall sent me a letter stating that they would conduct the search *if* I agreed to pay the salary of the person doing the searching. Since they expected the search to take as long as 40 hours, I was looking at a charge of approximately $560! They also gave me the option of doing the search myself, but there was no way I could afford to take that much time off from work.
I contacted the Secretary's office and spoke to the person assigned to my case. I explained to her that I couldn't afford either of these options, and that this sort of response made it impossible for me to exercise my rights under the public information law. She explained that although it seemed unfair, the town hall was within their rights to charge me for their research. Feeling defeated, I accepted her explanation and hoped the evidence I had gathered so far would be enough to persuade the court.
Needless to say, neither the clerk-magistrate nor the trial judge were persuaded.
However ... here's where my tale gets interesting!
After losing my trial and filing my appeal, I suddenly received a call from the Secretary's office. The woman who had been assigned my case explained to me that her superior had reviewed my case and decided that the proposed $560 charge really *was* unfair! And she wanted to know if I wanted her office to demand a new estimate from town hall.
Even though I knew I couldn't use any new evidence in my pending appeal, I decided I had nothing to lose and told her to go ahead and request a new estimate.
Over the next few weeks, I received several calls from the Secretary's office asking if I had gotten any response from town hall yet. I told her I hadn't.
Then one day I received a copy of a letter that the Secretary's office had sent to town hall. Citing several unreturned phone calls that had been made to the town hall, the Secretary's office was now threatening to file charges with the State Attorney General if town hall didn't provide me with a new estimate! Wow!
A few days later, I received a letter from town hall admitting that they couldn't find any speed regulation.
Anyway, even though this letter came too late to help me, maybe my experience will help another NMA member who encounters these tactics in the future.
Thanks again for your help.
Thanks for your help. The magistrate found me not responsible, because the information on the ticket was insufficient.
I don't know if I got full four words out before he interrupted me and asked the cop about the missing information. Evidently, if I caught what he was saying correctly, he seemed to be saying that 'clocked' to him meant time over distance and the points used for the calculation were not on the ticket.
I feel like I won the lottery.
Thank you so much for your Web site!
In September 2002, I was ticketed for speeding in one of Lynn's infamous speed traps. I was clocked 34 in a 20-mile-hour "school zone." Through information on your site, I got a letter from Mass. Highway stating that the street in question was in fact not speed-zoned; and I also got a letter from city stating that there was no school zone. The school was actually a high school and not applicable for school-zoning.
Today, I had my hearing. Both the magistrate and the attending police officer were flabbergasted by my documentation. I also added additional tidbits such as the officer didn't ask me to sign the ticket. The verdict . . . NOT RESPONSIBLE!
I can tell you that there's no better feeling than beating the Man . . .well, maybe sex. Maybe.
Thanks for all your help,
So I had my hearing today.
After I asked all kinds of questions and then some, the judge denied my motion to dismiss, but said he would make a note of my argument that my driving was reasonable and proper. He asked if I wanted to testify. I presented him with my public information request and what the police sent back. The officer did bring with him a letter from the mechanic that his car maintenance and tires were okay - not signed though. I said to the judge it needs to be signed or the person needs to be here to certified it. Judge said not necessarily so. (Is that true?!)
So the judge went through each line item and said some were necessary, some were not and asked me to explain why I wanted each item.
I stressed that I didn't receive a speedometer calibration. He implied the radar calibration was good enough - proof that the police station does calibrations. I said they are not the same. Judge asked me how they were supposed to do the speedometer calibration/certification. I was shocked. I said don't they do oil changes and have monthly maintenance records?
Judge asked again if I wanted to testify and I said again yes.
All I said was I was in the left lane, tractor truck in the middle and I wanted to pass him. Judge asked me if I wanted to address the speeding. I said I usually follow the speed limit and that I have a clean record (the clean record helped, I think). Judge asked officer if he had a copy of my record. Officer said no.
I stepped down. Judge said he is giving me a benefit of doubt finding me Not Responsible, but the officer did a good job of complying with my request. Judge advised me from now on - traveling on Mass Pike, speed limit is 65. I said I understand and thanked him.
I did forget to bring up the pacing with time and distance. I got the officer to say it took 45 seconds, but I should have brought it up to the judge that covering 1/2 mile at 45 sec would put me at 40mph. Oh well...
Anyway, thank you again for all your help and dealing with all my questions and for your quick replies. I really appreciate all that you've done, Ivan.
Happy and Delighted in Quincy
I would like to thank you for your Web site. I was pulled for speeding and feel that the officer was in the wrong. I believe that it was the 18 wheeler next to me that was speeding. I'm 43 and have never had a speeding ticket.
I will let you know how this turns out.
Thanks again, you're the only site I found that was of help.
Just wanted to let you know that I beat a Lidar ticket in Medford and it might help out others in the area.
I was pulled over doing 56 in a 35 on 28N near 93 and the ticket read that they used Lidar and my speed was also estimated and the fine was $185. I went back to the area and noticed the 35mph was painted over with 55mph. I took photos and went before the Magistrate. The officer presented his case and then I gave a 1 minute speech and handed over my photos. The officer said that he did not believe that I thought that the speed limit was 55, but the judge liked the photos. I am new to the area and the sign sure looked like 55 to me. Just an fyi for the locals. It never hurts to go back to the scene.
God love those 2 words.... Not Responsible.
I got a ticket on a street in Natick with a posted 20 mph limit and no school in sight. The Town Hall was no help in providing traffic study information required by law.
Yesterday I got my letter from MassHighway, and it was much much more than I had ever hoped for!
I thought I was only getting a letter from an engineer stating that no traffic engineering study had been approved for the street I was cited on. And that I would have to connect the dots to show the magistrate how a missing study would invalidate the application of MGL 90-18 to that street.
Instead, I got a letter signed by the Director of the MassHighway district himself! And not only does he say that there was no study, he states that they have no record of any speed regulation at all! And he goes on to say that speeds on the street must therefore be governed by MGL 90-17! He connected the dots for me.
I'm considering having the letter framed.
It was a good day. Thanks!
I won my case because the officer did not show up. I complained to the judge that I had put so much work into my case and it could not even be heard! She laughed and said that the paper she was giving me, clearing me of the ticket, was better. As I left she said, "and slow down." I guess she assumes everyone is actually guilty.
About 15 other people were let off the same way. A lawyer told me that it was not worth it to the officer to show, when he could make $100/hr on traffic details. His court detail pays much less. So this really is justabout the money.
Thanks for the help.
Today I had my continued court appearance. The last time in court, I pointed out that I had never received my Public Records Request and the judge ordered the cop to provide me with that info by April 25th for the court hearing on May 6th.
At that first hearing before the judge, when I mentioned that I had not received the information, the judge asked the officer if he had received my request and the cop replied "no," which I'm sure was a lie. I'm certain he was hoping that he didn't have to deal with my request, but when the judge told him he had to, he probably gave up right then and there.
So, since I had never received the information from the officer, I knew that he wasn't going to show up. Sure enough, I went to the court this morning and the officer was not there. I was found "Not Responsible!" Thanks for your help, and the help of the NMA!
The psychological warfare began when they didn't hear the first case till 9:30, tho it was scheduled for 8:30. I was the 3rd person on the list and I arrived at 8:15 for a 9:00 hearing & I was called in at 10:15. (That was a looong 2 hours.)
I was sworn in & then the Magistrate spent 5 minutes explaining why I could not win the case (not why I wasn't LIKELY to win, but why I was absolutely NOT going to win.) She said that if I appeal I'll never win in court either because LIDAR defendants don't win, because LIDAR does not make mistakes, etc. Then the Police Prosecutor spent 5 minutes giving me the run-down on how LIDAR works & why a LIDAR citation is indefensible. For instance, the officer 'estimated' my speed at 65 to 70 and that's enough for a citation right there. They don't even NEED to use the LIDAR. So there I am, 10 minutes into the proceedings & I've already been given 100 different reasons why I will definitely be found responsible. No question about it.
The Magistrate asked if I had anything I wanted to say & I felt like saying "What the hell would be the point!?" But I gathered what was left of my courage & self-confidence, which wasn'too much at that point, and said that there were a few things that I'd like to go over. I had 10 exhibits (photos, documents, stopping-distance formulas, etc., along with my 'speaking points').
They shot them down one-by-one, very quickly. From the moment I began, the Magistrate started shaking her head ("no") (& she continued to shake it throughout the whole proceeding) and smirking while looking down at a tablet which she doodled on the whole time. When I presented a copy of my 10-year perfect driving record, which I'd ordered from the DMV, the Magistrate pushed it away with disgust & said it was meaningless because there's a first time for everything. She said she speeds all the time & she's never been pulled over.
Each time they blew one of my defenses out of the water I listened patiently to why they felt my positions were without merit & I acknowledged that I could see their point. The only time that they were speechless was when I asked the Officer to read the back of the Officer's copy of the citation and he read, . . ."observed dark-colored motor vehicle driving at excessive speed . . ." At that point I whipped out two photos of my car that I'd taken the day prior. It is a very, very light metallic blue and I said, "as you can see, if my car were any lighter, it would be white. There is no way this could be described as a 'dark-colored' vehicle." They looked at the citation & then back at my photos & back at the citation, etc.
I co&ncluded with the same statement that I began with -- that I believed that a mechanical or human error, or a combination thereof resulted in my being issued the citation. The Officer said that it would be up to the Magistrate if she wanted to give me a break & take something off of my fine, but that would be entirely up to her. So I said, "but if my fine is reduced I'll still have points against my license & have to deal with the insurance company, right?" Officer - "That's right. She can't do anything about that." (Of course I knew this already, but I wanted to act naive in order to let them know that I wasn't looking for a fine reduction & I was looking to eliminate the points, etc.)
The next thing I know the Magistrate is saying, "OK, I'm giving you a break because of the car color issue, but don't tell anyone out there in the hall about this because I DON'T GIVE BREAKS." She handed me a piece of paper with illegible writing on it which I assumed would say that I could now pay $125 instead of $225, and then I'd tell her that I wasn't interested && was going to appeal. So I said, "What is this, exactly?" and she said, "I'm finding you not responsible."
Ivan, I was truly in shock. As I said, every time I began to present a new exhibit it was blown away before I could even finish presenting it! So when she said this I said, "What do you mean?" and she explained guilty/not guilty in criminal cases & responsible/not responsible in civil cases . . . Again, I was so stupefied I said, "You mean I don't have to go to court?" At this point they both smiled cheerfully & said that I'd done a terrific job, etc. I thanked them both, shook hands, and walked out shedding tears of disbelief, joy, relief.
For the rest of the day my stomach remained in knots of pain, I'd been so terrified about the whole thing. The night prior to the hearing I was up till 3:30AM revising and reprinting my exhibits & practicing my spiel. I slept for 2 1/2 hours, showered & was off.
I'd say that about covers it. If you want my opinion, I think they were probably glad that I came up with the car color thing so that they could let me off. Based on the looks of the other people waiting on the bench, I think 99% of them probably argue with the officer & Magistrate, etc & I could see from the get-go that that sort of behaviour would get me nowhere. I never stopped smiling & I always nodded when they explained why I was wrong about each exhibit.
So, what do you think?
Thanks for the great site! I got a ticket for allegedly going 48 in a 25 zone in Weston, MA. I thought it was an unjustified ticket because there was no limit posted and I didn't think I was going that fast.
I would have had no idea how to approach my defense except that I came across your site and used the information you've collected. I was able to find out the detail of what the law provided, the definition of "thickly settled," the requirements of the officer in using radar, the fact they didn't have to show up for the first hearing, the rules of evidence, how to make a public records request, etc. etc. I used each of these bits of information in my defense.
The one unique thing about my defense that may be of interest to users of this site was my use of technology to aide in my defense.
To document the fact the speed limit was not posted, I used my digital camera to capture a digital movie of the route I took. This footage documented the fact there were no signs with a posted limit. I put this digital file on a laptop computer that I brought to court with me. When the judge (who didn't know quite what to make of the fact I had moving pictures in court) said show it to the officer, I was pleased to have the officer confirm that based on the route I took, I wouldn't have seen the posted speed limit after he viewed the clip I showed him. I used your information regarding evidence by making sure I printed off pictures of the footage I had taken since the judge said it would have no bearing on the case unless I left the laptop. When I said I had pictures of the route and the officer confirmed it was the location I had been stopped, the judge had no choice but to find me not responsible.
It was a little more complicated than that but the result was I beat the ticket.
Relieved in Weston
Just wanted to tell you that joining the NMA gave me the courage to fight a speeding ticket this past month. I went to court and was amazed at how many cases were dropped because the police officer did not have the paper work for those tickets. I wasn't that lucky, but fortunately the magistrate was very reasonable and given my safe driving record and my contention that my speed was "safe and reasonable given the prevailing conditions" at the time I was driving, he dropped the charge and I didn't get fined at all. I was relieved that I got no points to cause my auto insurance rates to go up!
Thank you, again.
Another satisfied member,
I had an interesting day today. Thankfully, I was found not responsible, but the hell that I was put through up to today was more punishment than any ticket could be, even though I still maintain that I was pulled over wrongly. However, I will never have to be nervous again, thanks to the help of John Carr and Ivan Sever. Their advice helped me be prepared and confident. I'd like to share that advice so you, too, can be prepared when you get the dreaded speeding ticket in Boston.
The following mostly favors MDC-related citations but most defenses use much of what is suggested.
As the son of a police officer, I know how hard it is for them to do their jobs. The ones giving the speeding/traffic tickets really are only following orders and they really don't know traffic law much better than we do. They should, but most don't. I ask that you please remember that police officers ARE in general good people. Yes, it would be great if the powers that be would assign the officers to more productive crime-fighting work, but to stop these speed traps we each need to do our part as citizens and write our congressmen. It is up to us to provoke changes in the law. Thank you, and the best of luck to you in fighting your traffic tickets!
(This is the original letter sent to the Boston Herald about the Massachusetts Turnpike speed limits. The letter published on April 29, 2001 was cut significantly.)
The Turnpike says they are fixing their speed limit signs to comply with the Manual On Uniform Traffic Control Devices. In fact they are only pretending to fix the signs.
The new signs are just as illegal as the old ones.
The Turnpike is following the MUTCD requirements for appearance of signs but they are not following the MUTCD requirements for use of signs.
A posted speed limit must be based on an engineering study. That doesn't mean three political appointees voting on what the speed limit should be. That doesn't mean a traffic engineer making up a number. That means a documented study following standard procedures.
The Turnpike has said, in writing, that they have no engineering study for their speed limits. Not for the Fast Lane. Not for the harbor tunnels. Not for the Turnpike itself.
It's easy to understand why. Even if the politicians were willing to cede control to engineers, they know they wouldn't like the results. The fundamental principle of speed zoning is that most drivers choose reasonable speeds and therefore the speed limit should be greater than the average speed of traffic. That's the plain English version of the MUTCD's statement that the speed limit "should be the 85th-percentile speed of free-flowing traffic, rounded up to the nearest 5 mph increment." If less than 85% of drivers are obeying the speed limit, the speed limit is too low.
Speed limit compliance on the Turnpike is far below 85%; it varies from 5% to 25% (see http://www.motorists.org/ma/limits.html). The speed limit should be 15 MPH higher, but the executive branch is unwilling to risk controversy by following federal law. As a result, one of the most important highways in Massachusetts has no legally enforceable speed limit.
National Motorists Association Activist
I wanted to relate my experience with the Lowell Distric Court system in Massachesetts earlier this year, perhaps it may help others that find themselves in a similar plight.
At 4pm on Wednesday, Jan 19 I was travelling on Treble Cove Road heading toward Billerica, Massachusetts from Route 3. Traffic was heavy as is usual at that time of day. Rounding a slight curve I see ahead of me a Billerica cruiser on the right shoulder. I immediately looked at my speedometer and saw I was doing between 30-35MPH. As I got closer I saw he already had a minivan pulled over and since he was still in the cruiser I presumed he was busy processing that victim. I figured no problem - 5MPH max over the speed limit and the officer is occupied with another driver. Surprise! The officer got out of his cruiser and motioned me over.
We hardly spoke to one another - just "License and registration," then he gets back into his cruiser, gets out a few minutes later, hands the minivan driver her cititation, back into the cruiser again, gives me my citation and says "I clocked you at 46MPH, I'm giving you a break by writing it up for the minimum speed and fine - 40MPH in a 30MPH - $50.00. Have a nice day." I'm thinking there's no way they are going to get fifty bucks out of me without a fight, this ticket is bogus.
While waiting for the officer to return my license and registration (and citation), I wrote down a few details - cruiser number, weather, traffic conditions, what I was doing and thinking right up till the moment of being pulled over. All this would help in the battle ahead.
I found several web sites that gave me a good idea on what to expect out of the Massachusetts traffic court system. I also spoke with a friend of mine who recently fought and won a traffic case in the Lowell District Court. I really had no idea what to expect - I was thinking I'd be before a judge in a courtroom with lawyers present for the prosecution, the police office giving his testimony, "Objection, your honor!," "Motion for dismissal!," stuff like that, but that's not even close - it's very informal, and the officer doesn't have to show up. It's you against a paper cititation. I also received lots of info from another friend (a veteran of NH court battles), on radar, how to beat traffic tickets, and a suggestion I check out this site.
I checked the box requesting a hearing before a 'clerk magistrate' and sent it back certified mail (you want all the proof you can get). Ireceived my hearing date about 20 days later, with the hearing scheduledfor Monday, March 27. That week I was scheduled to be out of the area so I requested that the hearing be postponed by sending (again, certified mail) a very formal 'Motion for Continuance.' It turns out I probably didn't have to be this formal - I could have simply called the clerk's office. But I wanted to put them on notice that I intended to use whatever means necessary to defend myself, and I wanted everything in writing in case anything got 'lost.' I found a few sample 'Motions'on the internet and I basically modified one for my use. Two months later I get my rescheduled hearing notice set for Monday June 5.
I dressed 'business casual' and arrived at Lowell District Court about15 minutes early. The hearing notice said to "Report to the Clerk's Office under the Criminal sign," and there under a big "Criminal" sign was a guy shuffling some paper around. I checked in with him and proceded to sit down and wait (I was the only one in the waiting area at that time). Just as I sat down, the guy that checked me in said tofollow him into another room - looked like a conference room. He turned out to be the Clerk Magistrate, and another guy called the Court Officer filed in behind me.
The whole hearing took less than two minutes. Court Officer basically re-read the officer's citation (there wasn't any notes or statement from the Billerica officer), Clerk Magistrate then asked for my side of the story. I got about two sentences in when he stopped me short and said he was finding me Not Responsible! Five months after receiving my traffic violation and I was in and out of the court house in five minutes.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope it will be a help to others.
- A New Hampshire driver in King Massachusetts Court (8/00)
Thank you for your help and advice prior to my trial for the speeding violation. If you want a detailed account of what happened for the Massachusetts chapter let me know. To make a long story short I beat it completely - a not responsible judgment. I also joined the NMA, for which the Mass. chapter pages can take most of the credit.
I have reference material which may be valuable to share with anyone else interested in fighting a ticket, which I am more than willing to share so others don't have to duplicate my research. (This is a free offer, if you want it.) Thanks again for your help. -Dan
So, again, I want to thank you for your support. I know I will be a continuing member for a long time to come!
I also wanted to ask if there was anything I could do to help the cause. I don't have much in financial support to provide, but I would like to be able to contribute whatever time I may have to help out. Thank you, again! A.P. (5/99)