What Are Driving Points and How Do They Affect Me?
In Massachusetts, driving points are a system used by the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to track your driving record. The RMV assigns points for various traffic violations, ranging from minor infractions like speeding tickets to more serious offenses like reckless driving. The more severe the violation, the more points you receive.
For instance, if you’re caught speeding, you might receive two points on your driving record. However, if you’re charged with Operating Under the Influence (OUI), you could receive five points. These points add up over time and can lead to increased insurance premiums, license suspension, or even revocation if you accumulate too many within a certain period.
How Do Criminal Charges Differ from Traffic Violations?
While traffic violations can lead to driving points, not all traffic violations result in criminal charges. A traffic violation is a breach of traffic laws, often resulting in a fine or points on your license. Examples are speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield.
On the other hand, a criminal charge is a more serious offense that violates state or federal law. In Massachusetts, certain traffic violations can escalate to criminal charges, such as reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, or driving under the influence. These offenses can result in hefty fines, jail time, and a criminal record.
What Happens If I’m Charged with a Criminal Offense?
If you’re charged with a criminal offense in Massachusetts, it’s crucial to understand the potential consequences. A criminal charge significantly impacts your life, affecting everything from your employment prospects to your ability to secure housing.
For example, let’s say you’re charged with an OUI. This is a criminal offense in Massachusetts, and if convicted, you might face jail time, large fines, and suspension of your driver’s license. Plus, the charge will appear on your criminal record, which can be accessed by landlords, employers, and others.
What Are the Consequences of Accumulating Too Many Driving Points?
In Massachusetts, accumulating too many driving points can have serious consequences. If you accumulate a certain number of points within a specific time frame, the RMV may suspend or revoke your driver’s license. This can negatively impact your daily life, making it difficult to get to work, run errands, or visit family and friends.
For example, if you accumulate 12 or more points within a two-year period, the RMV may suspend your license for up to 60 days. If you accumulate 24 or more points within a five-year period, your license may be revoked indefinitely.
Accumulating points can also lead to increased car insurance premiums. Many insurance companies use your driving record to determine your insurance rates. If you have a high number of points on your record, they may view you as a high-risk driver and increase your rates accordingly.
Can I Contest a Traffic Violation or Criminal Charge?
Yes, you can contest a traffic violation or criminal charge in Massachusetts. If you believe you’ve been wrongly accused or if there are mitigating circumstances, consult with an experienced lawyer to build a strong defense.
For instance, if you’re charged with speeding, and you believe the radar gun was faulty, a lawyer can help you gather evidence and present your case. Similarly, if you’re charged with an OUI and believe the breathalyzer test was administered incorrectly, a lawyer can call into question the validity of the test results.
Every case is different, and the best course of action will depend on the specifics of your situation. An experienced lawyer can personalize their guidance, helping you make informed decisions about your case.
What If I’m a Repeat Offender?
If you’re a repeat offender in Massachusetts, the consequences can be even more severe. The state has strict laws in place to deter repeat offenders, and if you’re convicted of multiple traffic violations or criminal charges, you could face increased fines, longer jail sentences, and extended license suspensions.
For example, if you’re convicted of an OUI for the second time within a ten-year period, you could face up to two years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, and a two-year license suspension.
Even if you’re a repeat offender, an experienced lawyer can still help. They can negotiate a plea deal, challenge the evidence against you, or seek alternative sentencing options, such as probation or rehabilitation programs.
What Are the Long-Term Implications of a Criminal Charge?
The long-term implications of a criminal charge in Massachusetts can be far-reaching and life-altering. A criminal record can affect your ability to secure employment, housing, and even educational opportunities. Employers, landlords, and educational institutions often conduct background checks, and a criminal record can be a significant deterrent.
For instance, if you’re convicted of a criminal offense like an OUI, this conviction can stay on your record for life. This could potentially affect your ability to secure a job, especially in fields that require a clean driving record. It could also affect your ability to rent a home, as landlords may be hesitant to rent to someone with a criminal record.
Can I Get My Driving Record Expunged?
In Massachusetts, it’s possible to have certain offenses removed from your driving record, a process known as expungement. However, this is typically only possible for minor traffic violations, not for criminal charges like an OUI. The process can be complex and requires the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
For example, if you’ve received a speeding ticket and successfully completed a driver education program, you may be eligible to have the points from that violation removed from your record. However, if you’ve been convicted of an OUI, this conviction will remain on your record indefinitely.
How Can an Experienced Lawyer Help Me?
If you’re facing traffic violations or criminal charges in Massachusetts, it’s essential to seek legal representation. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal system, protect your rights, and potentially reduce the severity of the penalties you face.
If you have been involved in a car accident or charged with a traffic violation or criminal offense, call The Law Office of Brian Simoneau today at 508-625-5776 for a free case evaluation!