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Reckless Driving, Negligent Operation, & Operating to Endanger

Massachusetts Registry News

A conviction for reckless driving, negligent operation, or operating so as to endanger will result in a 60-day license suspension for a first offense and a 1-year revocation of your license or right to operate in Massachusetts for a subsequent conviction within 3 years.  Junior Operators who are convicted of negligent operation or a related offense will lose their licenses for 180 days for a first conviction.  In addition to these penalties, police officers may file immediate threat complaints, which will result in the immediate suspension of the driver’s license. In certain Mass. DUI cases, the drivers are charged with operating to endanger, reckless driving, or negligent operation in addition to drunk driving. These offenses count as “major violations” for the purpose of classifying habitual traffic offenders.

To establish a prima facie case for the negligent operation of a vehicle, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant operated a motor vehicle upon a public way negligently so that the lives or safety of the public might be endangered. In addition to license suspension consequences, a conviction carries a penalty of not less than 2 weeks in the House of Correction, up to 2 years incarceration and/or a fine of not less than $20 and not more than $200, plus a $250 head injury fund surcharge.

It is important to note that speeding alone will not constitute a reckless driving violation in Massachusetts, unlike in some other states such as New Hampshire and Virginia. The Registry has imposed legally invalid suspensions for out-of-state reckless driving convictions based on speed. The Registry often imposes invalid suspensions based on careless driving in Florida and New Jersey. I have successfully reversed these suspensions on appeal.

Factors often considered in negligent operation or reckless driving cases include weather conditions, visibility, rate of speed, road conditions, condition of the vehicle, the driver’s physical condition, and driving behavior such as weaving, aggressive driving, and ignoring red lights, signs, and other traffic control devices. Time of day and traffic conditions are also considered in many cases. There must be some factor other than speed for the prosecution to prove a reckless driving case.

License suspensions for reckless driving, negligent operation and operating so as to endanger are usually automatically imposed. However, if the court recommends no loss of license, the Registry can accept the judge’s recommendation and not suspend a license or reinstate a license that was previously suspended for reckless driving. If you’re facing charges for reckless driving or a related offense such as operating to endanger or negligent operation, please contact us for a free consultation and case review. If you’ve lost your license or right to drive because of any one of these charges, please contact Attorney Brian E. Simoneau to discuss appealing your license suspension so you can get back on the road, legally.

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