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Massachusetts Traffic Citation Appeals: Criminal & Civil

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Massachusetts Traffic Citation Appeals: Criminal & Civil

by Brian E. Simoneau, Esq. 31. March 2010 03:46
There are two types of Massachusetts traffic tickets or citations: civil and criminal. Civil citations are issued for traffic violations such as speeding, following too close, failure to stop for a red light or stop sign, failing to stay within marked lanes, which is also known as a marked lanes violation, having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, and other minor Massachusetts traffic offenses. Criminal citations are issued for more serious offenses such as operating to endanger, leaving the scene of an accident, attaching plates, compulsory insurance violation (driving uninsured), reckless driving, and driving on a suspended license, which is also known as operating after suspension or revocation.  Both criminal and civil infractions can result in the suspension or revocation of your Mass. License or right to drive in Massachusetts under the 7 surchargable event law, habitual traffic offender law, or the Mass. law which will automatically suspend your license for additional time if you are caught operating after suspension or revocation.  A conviction for driving without insurance will also trigger a mandatory loss of license.
If you are given a criminal citation, you must NOT send the citation to the Registry and the police officer who issues you the citation should not give you an envelope with the RMV’s address on it. Instead, if you would like to contest the citation at a Clerk-Magistrate hearing, which is strongly recommended, you must check off the appropriate box on the back of the ticket and send it to the Clerk-Magistrate’s office of the appropriate district court within 4 days of receipt of the citation. The police officer who issued the citation should have written the court address in a box in the corner of the ticket.
If you send a criminal citation to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, instead of the appropriate court, you may lose your right to a hearing and the case will proceed to a criminal arraignment.  If you are trying to appeal a civil citation for offenses such as speeding, you must send the citation to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, using the envelope provide, within 20 days of receipt. You should check off the appropriate box to request a hearing. Once you pay a citation, you cannot later dispute responsibility. Payment of a Massachusetts traffic citation is considered an admission of guilt and the ticket can be used against you to suspend your license and increase your insurance. 

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