If you have been cited for a traffic violation you are facing steep fines, points on your license, and an increase in your insurance premiums. Depending on your driving record, your license may even be in jeopardy. At the very least, the cost to you in fines and increased premiums could be several hundred dollars in the short run and possibly even several thousand in the long run. An astonishing number of people will be cited for a traffic violation at some point in their lives. Each year the Commonwealth of Massachusetts hands out thousands of traffic citations. It’s big business for the state, but a big pain to you. If you have been cited for a traffic violation or if you have been found at fault in a vehicle accident you should definitely consider hiring an attorney to represent you and get your charges dropped. Below, you will find some answers to some basic questions you may have.
1. How much will I have to pay in fines?
Traffic fines are uniform throughout the state. But ultimately, it’s the circumstances (driving record, severity of infraction) that determine the fine. A speeding ticket fine, for example, will vary depending on how many miles per hour over the posted speed limit you were driving. As a general rule, in addition to the base fine of $50 you will have to pay $10 per EACH MILE per hour over the speed limit you were going (after the first 10 mph). So, if you are found driving 85 in a 55 you will pay a base fee of $50 dollars, and an additional charge of $200 dollars. The exact fine amount will be listed on your citation. Click here for a complete list of fines.
2. What is a speeding surcharge?
Massachusetts assesses a $50 surcharge on all speeding tickets. Thirty dollars of the surcharge goes to the Head Injury Treatment Services Trust Fund, while the remaining $20 goes to the General Fund.
3. What is a surchargeable event?
Instead of demerit points, Massachusetts has surchargeable events. All motor vehicle violations and at-fault accidents are considered surchargeable events that, in most cases, will appear on your driving record.
4. Are there other penalties?
Penalties, like fines, are determined by a variety of factors, including severity of infraction, license type (CDL, Learner’s permit, etc.) and driving record. Having surchargeable events added to your driving record and having your MA driver’s license revoked or suspended are the two most common penalties.
5. How many points will be added to my license?
The following surchargeable point schedule reflects point assignments in Massachusetts:
- Major traffic violation (such as DUI): 5
- Major at-fault accident (such as a claim over $2,000): 4
- Minor at-fault accident (claim of $500 to $2,000): 3
- Minor traffic violation (such as speeding): 2
You get a free pass on the first non-criminal minor traffic violation, which will not be subject to a surcharge. After that, the points start to rack up.
6. Is my license in jeopardy?
Potentially, yes. This will depend on your driving record and the severity of the offense. The Massachusetts RMV cares a lot more about the number of violations you accumulate than the points, which have more to do with you insurance coverage. Here’s how surchargeable events affect your license:
- If you are found responsible for three speeding violations within 12 months,your driver’s license will be suspended automatically for 30 days.
- If you collect five surchargeable events on your driving record within three years, you will receive a letter from the RMV instructing you to complete a driver retraining program. You must complete it within 90 days or your license will be suspended until you do complete the course.
- Collecting seven surchargeable events within a three-year period will result in an automatic 60-day suspension.
7. What impact will a traffic violation have on my insurance premiums?
The whole idea of the Massachusetts Safe Driver’s Insurance Program is to charge bad drivers more and safe drivers less. It makes sense overall. Why should good drivers subsidize those who drive dangerously and make more insurance claims? The point system basically attempts to punish bad drivers and reward good ones.The more points you have, the higher your premiums. So, point accumulation breaks down like this:
- If you have been driving for less than six years, each point makes your premium in four areas of coverage (bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury coverage and collision coverage) go up by 7.5 percent.
- If you have been driving for more than six years, each point makes your premium in four areas of coverage (bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury coverage and collision coverage) go up by 15 percent.
- This can add up fast. Add two points for a speeding ticket and you’re paying up to 30 percent more on those four parts of your auto insurance policy for the next three years. Say you’re paying about $1,000 for coverage in those four areas. All of a sudden, you’re now paying a minimum of $1,300 for at least the next three years.
- The other side of this is the “excellent driver discount.” Keep a clean driving record for five years and your premiums drop by seven percent. Add another year with no violations or accidents and you can save up to 17 percent on your premiums.
8. What events and points stay on my license?
In terms of insurance costs, you can work surchargeable points off your record, but it’s going to take a while. If you have no more than three surchargeable incidents over the past five years, one point will be removed for each violation, for every three years of safe driving. There is no other way to reduce points and surcharges from your record, unless you choose to appeal the finding or challenge it in court. The Massachusetts driver retraining program does not remove or reduce point totals.
9. How long do I have to act?
10. How can hiring a lawyer to fight my ticket help?
Hiring a lawyer can greatly increase the chances that you will have your charges dropped or reduced. On your citation you will have the option to plea not guilty to the offense. You will be given a court date at which you can argue your case before a clerk or a judge. The clerk or the judge will have the power to reduce or drop the charges you are facing. Sometimes, individuals try to defend themselves at this hearing. However, this is almost alwyas a bad idea. Frequently, individuals are unfamiliar with the legally significant facts and potential defenses. This often leads to rambling irrelevant defenses. Judges have heard every excuse in the book and if your defense is not legally significant the judge will have no problem sustaining the charges and ordering you to pay additional court fees for wasting the court’s time. On the other hand, an experienced attorney knows the law, knows which facts are important, and can construct a suitable defense to fit your situation. Don’t risk going it alone, it can cost you big.
If you have been cited for a traffic violation, don’t risk your license, don’t pay thousands in fines and increased insurance premiums. At JCO Law Firm we can help. Contact us today at 877-385-4179 to fix your ticket fast.