Q: How do I know the amount officer wrote on the ticket is correct?
A: The minimum is $100. ($50 for the first 10 miles over the limit, plus another $50 'head injury surcharge,' $20 of which is really a state speeding tax and doesn't go into head injuries fund at all. The driver's manual and the pre-printed tickets are wrong about this part.) Then beyond the first 10 miles over the limit, it's an additional $10 for each mile over. So for example, if you were accused of a heinous crime of traveling 73 mph on a highway with a posted speed limit of only 55 mph, the scheduled fine should be $180.
In 2001 the Appellate Division of the trial court ruled that the police
department must send a representative to the appeal hearing or lose the
case. In theory, you should be able to cite
Boston Police Department vs. Alfred M. Moughalian,
2001 Mass. App. Div 61,
Boston Police Department vs. Semyon Dukach
if the judge finds against you when the police department does not show up.
Major offenses are reckless or negligent driving, DUI, vehicular homicide, hit-and-run, operating after suspension or revocation, and refusing to stop for an officer. They are five points. You should hire a lawyer if charged with any of these except the last.
Minor offenses include speeding, expired registration, expired inspection sticker, leaving the keys in a parked vehicle on a public street, and many more. These are two points.
If the judge finds you responsible on appeal from a magistrate, your
only recourse is to appeal in the court system on the basis of a legal
mistake by the judge. Believing the police officer is not a legal
mistake unless you presented clear evidence that the officer was
wrong; in particular if it is only your word against the police the
judge is allowed to believe the police.
The court will probably offer you a reduced fine. If you are from out
of state this might be a good deal -- Massachusetts may not notify
other states of the ticket. For a Massachusetts driver, or anyone who
might move to Massachusetts in the next 6 years, this is a bad deal.
The average insurance cost for a ticket is $500. If you can see even
a 10% chance of winning (for example, because the officer doesn't show
up on appeal), you are better off fighting the ticket.
No person operating a motor vehicle on any way shall run it at a rate of speed greater than is reasonable and properThis is the "basic rule," and is the law in every state except Montana.
Section 17 continues to say the following are prima facie evidence of unreasonable speed:
Section 18 permits additional speed regulations, with the approval of the Highway Department and the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. Section 17 also says that exceeding a speed limit set by a section 18 regulation is prima facie evidence of unreasonable speed. Section 18 regulations must be posted to be effective, and supersede the unposted limits set by section 17.
Except for the basic rule, section 17 does not apply on the
Massachusetts Turnpike, which for legal purposes includes US 1 from
the south end of the Tobin Bridge to I-93, I-93 from US 1 in
Charlestown to Southampton Street in Boston, and the three harbor
tunnels. However, the Turnpike has passed a regulation (730 CMR 7.08(6)(c)) setting absolute speed limits. The fine is the same as for speeding.
State law requires that an immediate threat suspension be based on a single violation of motor vehicle law. The notice must contain the date and location of the violation. The driver has a right to a hearing within 30 days.
As part of the ``Road Rage'' campaign the RMV will consider a letter
from a police officer as sufficient evidence to suspend a driver's
license as an immediate threat. Police have taken advantage of this
to retaliate against drivers. So until the law or RMV policy changes,
it is a bad idea to annoy a police officer in Massachusetts. You are
likely to face a $50 fine and a 30 day license suspension.
It is our opinion that some foundation requirement pertaining to the accuracy of the particular radar instrument is appropriate in order to ensure that the persuasive force of scientific results is not improperly triggered. At present, however, we do not insist that this foundation be based exclusively on any one or two of the three principal tests or that testing occur with any given frequency. Instead, in any case where the issue is raised by the defendant, we leave it to the discretion of the trial judge to determine when a sufficient showing of the particular radar instrument's accuracy has been made. We assume that judges will closely examine the nature of all testing procedures and that they will be guided in their admission decisions by the quality of the tests performed, rather than by their quantity. At the same time, we expect that the testing requirements judges impose will not be so onerous as to make use of radar devices a practical impossibility.
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