As a reckless driving ticket lawyer, I represent clients in Lowell, Tewksbury, Lawrence, Billerica, Chelmsford, Wilmington, Andover, Woburn and throughout Massachusetts.
If you’ve been issued a ticket for reckless driving, before paying your ticket, I would encourage you to call me for a free consultation to learn about your rights and how I can help. In the interim, the following discusses relevant Massachusetts law with respect to reckless driving.
The State of Massachusetts defines “reckless operation” and “negligent operation” of a motor vehicle as two distinct offenses. Reckless and negligent motor vehicle infractions carry slightly different legal penalties. However, differences between the two motor vehicle offenses often comes down to semantics.
Both traffic crimes require proof that a driver committed an act that put other people at risk for sustaining injuries. Reckless operation of a motor vehicle means the driver understood the ramifications of performing an illegal act (in other words, the driver understood that they were driving in a dangerous manner), yet disregarded the risk of the dangerous driving and the possible consequences that could result (such as an accident that could cause injury or death).
Negligent operation, however, does not require that the prosecution proved that the driver realized the implications of driving recklessly. Instead, the prosecution only needs to show that the manner of driving was dangerous (such as weaving between lanes while driving at a high rate of speed without using land change signals).
Section 24(2)(a) of chapter 90 of Massachusetts motor vehicle law defines a reckless driver as someone “Whoever, upon any way or in any place to which the public has a right of access, or in any place to which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees, operates a motor vehicle recklessly.” Similarly, this statute also provides for conduct for “negligent operation.”
To get a reckless driving conviction, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
The reckless or negligent operation of a motor vehicle can lead to a conviction resulting in jail time, as well as a fine that ranges from $20 to $200. Motor vehicle operators convicted of reckless or negligent driving also face the possibility of a driver’s license suspension of up to 60 days for a first offense and a minimum of one year for a second offense committed within three years of the first offense. Additionally, any conviction of these offenses counts towards the calculation of surcharchable offenses, which can result in both the loss of a driver’s license and being deemed a habitual traffic offender.
Massachusetts statutes do not list all of the specific types of conduct that may constitute “reckless” driving or “negligent” operation of a vehicle. Instead, these terms are based upon whether the driving conduct poses a risk of damage to property or injury.
The State of Massachusetts has not passed any law that prohibits adults from using cell phones for calls during the operation of a motor vehicle. As a result, the use of cell phones while driving by adults is not illegal.
Cell Phone Usage by Minors
In Massachusetts, the prohibition of using cell phones while driving applies only to the class of drivers considered junior operators, defined as those age 18 years and younger who operate motor vehicles with a driver’s license, learner’s permit, or a temporary driver’s license. Under Massachusetts law, junior operators are prohibited from using mobile phones, paging devices, laptop computers, text messaging devices, and personal digital assistants while operating a motor vehicle. State law also makes playing video games, as well as taking and sending digital photographs, a crime if done while operating a vehicle by a driver 18 years of age or younger.
Punishment for first offenses of junior driving and cell phone law includes a $100 fine, 60-day license suspension, and participation in a driver’s education course. Second offenses carry a $250 fine and a 180-day suspension of a driver’s license. Juniors who commit a third offense face a one-year driver’s license suspension and a $500 fine.
Massachusetts law prohibits drivers from texting while they are driving. Texting is not only prohibited while the vehicle is in motion; it is also not allowed for drivers stopped in traffic or waiting for a traffic light to turn green. Fines for texting and driving range from $100 for a first offense to$500 for a third offense.
With years of experience litigating traffic-related cases, I provide affordable and experienced legal representation for Massachusetts residents charged with committing a reckless or negligent driving offense. Please call me for a free consultation to learn how I can help you.