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What is the Difference Between Reckless and Negligent Driving in Massachusetts?


Massachusetts law makes a distinct difference between reckless and negligent driving. For example, motorists can be charged with reckless driving for several types of traffic violations, including street racing, illegal passing, or dangerous lane changes. Additionally, reckless driving charges often accompany OUI charges.

However, negligent driving charges arise when law enforcement officials determine the driver’s actions endangered public safety. In many cases, negligent driving charges may also stem from an accident or OUI charge.

If you are facing charges that could result in losing your driving privileges, you must hire an experienced Massachusetts driver’s license suspension lawyer who can act as your legal ally and defend your rights.

What is Reckless Driving in Massachusetts?

Reckless driving is a criminal misdemeanor and is considered a more serious offense than negligent driving. Reckless driving occurs when a motorist operates their vehicle in a dangerous manner with a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others. In addition, a motorist may be charged with reckless driving if they operated a vehicle in a way that they knew or should have known that it was likely to cause severe injury or death.

However, reckless driving is significantly harder to prove than negligent driving, as the prosecution must have some insight into the defendant’s state of mind and intent.

What Are Some Examples of Reckless Driving?

Aside from street racing or dangerous weaving in and out of traffic, other driving offenses that could lead to a reckless driving charge may include:

  • Drunk driving
  • Aggressive driving
  • Driving at excessive speeds

If you have questions regarding Massachusetts laws on reckless or negligent driving, you must hire an experienced attorney who can answer your questions and protect your legal rights.

What is Operating Negligently So As to Endanger? 

Massachusetts law specifies that negligence occurs when an individual conducts themselves in a way that a reasonable person would not act. Furthermore, Massachusetts law also stipulates that negligent operation or driving to endanger occurs when a vehicle is operated in a manner that endangers the lives and safety of others on the road.

What Factors Must Exist For the Prosecution to Prove Negligent Driving?

To prove negligent driving, the prosecution must be able to prove the following factors:

  • The defendant was the individual operating the motor vehicle.
  • The defendant operated the vehicle on a road that was accessible to the public.
  • The defendant drove recklessly or negligently, which endangered the public’s lives and safety.

What Are the Criminal Penalties if Convicted of Negligent Driving?

Drivers should be aware there are criminal penalties if found guilty of negligent driving in Massachusetts. These criminal penalties include:

  • Not less than two weeks but not more than two years in jail.
  • A fine of not less than $20 but not more than $200.
  • A $250 Head Injury Treatment Services Trust Fund surcharge.

In addition, unless the judge recommends otherwise, the RMV shall revoke the individual’s driver’s license for 60 days. Likewise, the RMV may also revoke the vehicle’s registration if the defendant is the registered owner or has exclusive control of the vehicle.

If you have been charged with negligent driving, you must hire a negligent operation defense lawyer in Massachusetts who can defend you and work to protect your license.

An Experienced Negligent Operation Defense Lawyer Helping Individuals Protect Their Driving Privileges

If you or a family member has been charged with reckless or negligent operation, it is in your best interest to hire a defense lawyer immediately. An experienced lawyer can review your case and determine if the Commonwealth has the legal criteria to proceed.

Our law firm can act as your legal advocate and negotiate with the prosecution to have the charges dropped or significantly reduced so you can maintain your driving privileges.

Our law firm has a proven record of helping drivers and would be honored to help you as well. If you want to learn how we can assist you, contact The Law Office of Brian Simoneau, P.C.,at  508-625-5776 to schedule an appointment.

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