Driving in Massachusetts is a privilege and not a legal right. If you are charged with a traffic violation in or near Woburn or anywhere in Massachusetts, whether the charge is a civil infraction or a criminal offense, contact a Woburn traffic violation attorney immediately.
Traffic safety is a serious concern in Massachusetts, and in most jurisdictions in this state, traffic laws are aggressively enforced. More than 24,000 traffic collisions were reported in this state in 2021, along with 415 traffic fatalities.
Reducing those numbers is a law enforcement priority, which means that even innocent drivers may be cited for traffic violations by mistaken or overzealous police officers. If you know that you are innocent, you owe it to yourself to challenge a traffic charge with an attorney’s help.
What Are the Two Types of Traffic Offenses?
What is the difference between a civil traffic infraction and a criminal traffic offense? If you are charged with either type of traffic violation, what are your legal rights? What penalties can be imposed on you if you are convicted of a civil traffic infraction or a criminal traffic offense?
If you will keep reading this short discussion of traffic violations and your legal rights in Massachusetts, these questions will be answered, and you will also learn how a Woburn traffic violation lawyer will work on your behalf if you are charged with any kind of traffic violation.
When Are Massachusetts Drivers’ Licenses Revoked or Suspended?
Under state law, the Registry of Motor Vehicles may revoke or suspend your Massachusetts driver’s license for three different reasons: civil traffic infractions, criminal traffic offenses, and traffic accidents where you are deemed to be more than fifty percent at-fault.
If you are convicted of a serious criminal offense such as operating under the influence or leaving the scene of an accident, you will probably lose your driver’s license, but compiling a series of less serious civil traffic infractions will also put your driver’s license at risk.
Additionally, if you have any unpaid traffic tickets, parking tickets, other court fines, warrants, or unpaid child support, you will not be allowed to renew an expired Massachusetts driver’s license until that matter is resolved.
What Should You Know About Civil Traffic Infractions?
Civil traffic violations – such as running a stop sign or speeding – are not considered criminal offenses, and convictions do not entail a jail sentence. The usual penalty is a fine, but before you pay a fine – which seems like the expedient thing to do – consider the possible consequences.
Even for a minor civil traffic violation, you should contest the charge. Paying the fine is an admission of guilt – a conviction. Your auto insurance rates will almost certainly increase, and if you drive for a living, or if your work involves driving at all, your employment could be at risk.
If you are given a traffic citation by a police officer for a civil motor vehicle infraction (CMVI), you have twenty days to request a hearing to contest that citation. Contact a Woburn traffic violation attorney at once. Your attorney can request that hearing and help you be prepared for it.
What Should You Know About Criminal Traffic Offenses?
This cannot be stressed strongly enough: Criminal traffic offenses are not minor traffic infractions. They are serious crimes. You can be placed under arrest, lose your driving privilege, and have your vehicle towed. You’ll be photographed, fingerprinted, arraigned, and prosecuted.
Criminal traffic offenses in Massachusetts include operating under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, and driving with a suspended license. Depending on the details of the charge and the defendant’s criminal history, a conviction could mean a jail or prison sentence.
You may also be charged with a crime in this state if you do not cooperate with a law enforcement officer who asks you to produce your driver’s license and vehicle registration.
What is a Surchargeable Event?
Along with civil traffic infractions and criminal traffic offenses, the third type of traffic event that can put your driving privilege at risk – what Massachusetts law calls a “surchargeable event” – is when you are deemed more than fifty percent at-fault for a traffic accident.
Massachusetts does not use a “penalty point” system, but at-fault accidents go on your record along with civil traffic infractions and criminal traffic offenses. Serious at-fault accidents and offenses, or too many minor at-fault accidents and offenses, will trigger the loss of your license.
If five surchargeable events go on your record within a three-year time-frame, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will send you a letter directing you to enroll in a driver retraining course. If you do not complete that course within ninety days, your license is suspended until you complete it.
If seven surchargeable events go on your driving record within three years, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for sixty days. If you are involved in any surchargeable event, arrange immediately to meet with a Massachusetts traffic violation attorney.
How Can an Attorney Help You?
You should contest even a minor civil traffic infraction. A conviction will certainly increase your auto insurance rates, possibly jeopardize your employment, and move you a step closer to a driver’s license suspension.
If you are cited for a civil traffic infraction, contact a Woburn traffic violation lawyer as quickly as possible. If you are arrested and charged with a criminal traffic offense, it is even more important to contact a lawyer at once, because a conviction could send you to jail or prison.
If you are placed under arrest, you must exercise your legal rights. Anything you say could be used against you. After presenting your driver’s license and registration, if a police officer questions you, politely but firmly insist on having your lawyer present for any questioning.
When Should You Contact a Traffic Violation Lawyer?
If you have received a citation for an infraction, if you are charged with a criminal traffic offense, or if you are concerned about a driver’s license suspension or revocation, schedule a meeting at once with a Massachusetts traffic violation lawyer, and get the legal help you need.
Your lawyer will explain the charge or charges against you, your rights and options, and the likely outcome of your case. Your attorney will fight aggressively for your rights and for the best possible conclusion to your case, but you must take the first step – and schedule a consultation.