What to do if you get a Traffic Ticket in Massachusetts
If you were the unfortunate recipient of a traffic ticket or multiple traffic tickets in Massachusetts, you have some options that you may or may not be aware of.
Compiled below are some of your options and how to go about dealing with Massachusetts traffic tickets.
Is a Court Appearance Required?
A court appearance is not required for minor traffic infractions. Infractions that require a court appearance would include, but not limited to, driving while your license is suspended, involved in an accident and leaving before authorities arrive, and driving while intoxicated. These are considered criminal offences and they all require that you appear before a judge.
Option 1 – Pay Your Ticket
You may opt to just go ahead and pay your ticket. If you choose this alternative, you are stating that you are guilty of the infraction. You will then need to enter your admission of guilt by checking the first box on the ticket within twenty (20) days of the date of your ticket.
With this option, you have also surrendered the choice to stand before a judge and plead your case. There will also be points added to your license. Massachusetts calls this “surchargeable points”. The points vary from 5 points for a major violation like a DUI to 2 points for minor violations like speeding.
You have a twenty day window to make sure that your payment gets to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. If your payment is not received in time, there will be a late fee attached. If you chose to totally ignore the ticket, this will cause your license to be suspended.
There are three ways that you may pay you citation.
1) You can pay your ticket online with a major credit card.
2) Send in your payment to Attention: Citation Payment, Registry of Motor Vehicles, PO Box 55890, Boston, Massachusetts, 02205-5890. Include the citation number on the check.
3) Pay over the phone at 1-800-858-3926. Make sure that you have your citation and major credit card number ready.
Option 2 – Plead Not Guilty and Request Trial
If you feel that you received an unfair citation, you can challenge the ticket and request that you appear before the court judge. You can either represent yourself or you can hire an attorney. This needs to be done in a timely fashion and within the twenty day period that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles requires.
In submitting a not guilty plea, you will need to make a check mark in the second box, which is on your citation, and make sure that you have dated the back along with adding your signature. After that is done, make sure that you mail it to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Once the RMV has received your response, they will send a letter to you in which they will verify your request for a hearing. They will also instruct you on how to pay the fee of $25 for filing. Make sure that you pay this fee before the exploration date that is addressed in the letter.
Option 3 – Appeal Your Case
If you choose to appeal your case, you will need to decide if you are going to represent yourself or hire an attorney.
If you chose to represent yourself, make sure that you gather any evidence that is pertinent to your case. Interview any witnesses that may have seen what happened and make sure that you have your updated driving record so you can present that to the court.
If you are not confident about representing yourself, you may need to hire an attorney. An attorney might improve your odds of a reduction in the charges or maybe even a total dismissal. This could also result in keeping your vehicle insurance rates the same and keep you from having points added to your license.
In appealing your case, the judge could find you not guilty or innocent in which case, he could write off all of the charges which would free you from any fines or penalties. You would still have to pay court costs and if you hired an attorney, you may still have to pay the attorney fees.
The other option that the judge has is to find you guilty, in which you would need to pay the fine, court costs, and legal fees if you hired an attorney. You license will have points added to it and there is a possibility that you could see your insurance rates rise.
Option 4 - Take an Online Defensive Driving Course
At this time, if you have received traffic tickets in Massachusetts, you are not eligible to have your ticket dismissed by attending an online defensive driving course.
There are some advantages though in attending an online defensive driving course in Massachusetts.
- You can make improvements in your driving abilities
- You might be able to have a reduction in your insurance premiums
- If the court ordered you to attend a driving school, you could meet that requirement.