License Suspensions & Common Auto Charges
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This is the section for Massachusetts
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Defending your automobile crime charge


Being charged with an automobile crime is a serious problem. A conviction causes a permanent criminal history, points, an insurance increase, large fines, a license revocation, and potentially a jail sentence. This is why it is important to fight the misdemeanor or felony charges against you. The most common automobile crimes are driving under suspension, reckless driving, and transportation law violations applicable to commercial drivers such as log book violations.

Suspended driver’s license and suspended registration


The charges of driving on a suspended license or a suspended registration are common charges. These charges are called either “aggravated unlicensed operation,” (AUO), and operation while registration is suspended. There are 2 reasons for a state to suspend your driver’s license or registration– one being administrative and the other being punitive. An administrative suspension occurs for things such as failing to answer a traffic ticket, failure to pay parking tickets, failure to pay child support, or failure to pay a traffic light photo ticket. A punitive suspension occurs when you are being punished for an underlying crime such as driving while intoxicated, failing to consent to a chemical test for DUI, too many speeding tickets or too many points accrued. In some states being convicted of a drug crime, even when the crime had nothing to do with the operation of a vehicle, will also result in your driver’s license being suspended.  

In some states, such as Vermont, the difference between an administrative suspension and a punitive suspension results in the difference between either a civil charge or a criminal charge. However in most states you are charged with a crime for driving with a suspended license or operating a vehicle of which the registration has been suspended.

The goal in defending the criminal charge of driving with a suspended license or a vehicle with a suspended registration is to defeat the criminal charge. This can be done through a plea negotiation or taking the case to trial and defeating the charges. Often the motorist did not have actual knowledge of the suspension. However, this is not a legal defense, as so long as the prosecution can prove notice via mailing to your address of record with the DMV the motorist is deemed to have knowledge of the suspension.

A competent suspension attorney will focus on the legal defenses to the charge. For example, often a motorist pays a speeding ticket to a court but the court nonetheless recorded the case as unpaid and had the DMV suspended the license. Presentation to the court of timely proof of payment will lead to a dismissal.

Often, however, the suspension was justified. In those cases our attorneys work with the motorist in advising him or her on how to clear the underlying suspension. This is what the court and prosecution wants to see before they entertain plea negotiations. Often, clearing an underlying suspension requires either:

  • Answering a ticket the motorist ignored
  • Paying a fine
  • Taking a point reduction course to immediately get points taken off of a license which is causing the suspension
  • Turning in plates to a vehicle of which the registration is suspended
  • Making a payment plan to catch up on arrearages of child support
  • Contacting the state’s DMV and making the appropriate applications to restore after a revocation

Reckless driving


Reckless driving, its definition and elements, vary greatly from state to state. Some of the state’s statutes, such as Connecticut, merely prohibit operating “recklessly” on a roadway. Other states, such as New York, require a showing that the motorist operated a vehicle “in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper  use  of the  public  highway,  or  unreasonably  endangers  users  of the public highway.” Many states have “per se” reckless, usually operation of over 85 MPH. Other states have no such “per se” charge. The start of the analysis of a reckless driving charge starts with the definition of “reckless” and application of the facts to the standard. Although each state defines the culpable mens rea (mental state) of “reckless” slightly differently, reckless is generally defined as:

Being aware of and consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that disregarding constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct a reasonable person would observe.

What is common across the board is that a reckless driving charge is a misdemeanor which will cause a criminal record if convicted, carries points, causes a large insurance increase, and if you hold a CDL will cause your commercial privileges to be suspended or revoked. What is also true across the board is that reckless driving is at its core an “opinion” crime; i.e., it is based on the opinion of the police officer and any other testifying witnesses. To sustain the charge, the state must prove that the motorist exhibited more than mere negligence, more than want of ordinary care. The prosecution must show a wanton or heedless disregard of consequences, indifference to the rights of others. An error in judgment or an accident does not in itself prove recklessness.

When retaining counsel for reckless driving, seek an attorney that is well versed in traffic ticket defense as well as DUI and criminal defense. Obtaining discovery, such as the police video, any accident reports, and an independent investigation by investigators at defense counsel’s direction is critical to building a defense to a reckless driving charge. In addition, seek counsel that can put your case in the best light and use the evidence you discover as leverage to make a plea bargain, get entry into a diversion program, or move the court to dismiss.

Defending commercial truckers against criminal and non-criminal charges

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At the core of enforcement of commercial drivers license and standards are federal, not state regulations enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is a unit of the United States Department of Transportation.

All of the commercial driver vehicle safety and operation standards are contained in Title 49 of the Federal Code of Federal Regulations, also known as “49 CFR.” Its various sub sections cover the violations and standards. For example, 49 CFR 325.1 – 325.93 covers noise emissions; 49 CFR 383.1 – 383.155 covers the requirements for obtaining a CDL; 49 CFR 384.101 – 384.407 contains the regulations that the states comply with the federal rules for issuing a commercial drivers license; 49 CFR 387.1 – 387.419 covers the insurance requirements for commercial carriers; 49 CFR 390.1 – 390.115 contains safety regulations; 49 CFR 392.1 – 392.82 covers driving rules of the road specific to commercial motor vehicles; 49 CFR 393.1 – 393.209 covers safety equipment specific to commercial vehicles; and 49 CFR 397.1 – 397.225 covers rules and regulations specific to transporting hazardous materials.

Since these are federal rules they would be unenforceable by the state police and local police agencies. However, each state has enacted a compact with the federal government and incorporates by reference these federal regulations into the individual states statutory scheme. For example, in New York State the federal regulations are incorporated in New York’s Transportation Law.

While many of these violations are not crimes but violations what is significant about these regulations is that punishment upon conviction of many of the  violations is severe whether or not a crime. For example, if a commercial driver is convicted of carrying an overweight load the fines are in direct correlation with how much over weight the vehicle was. The fine can be in the thousands. Further, some equipment violations, such as brake and steering, require that the vehicle be immediately put out of service even though there has yet to be a conviction. Moreover, there is a prohibition against plea bargaining some equipment violations in many states, which means that the case must be tried.

In addition to the Code of Federal Regulation violations, each state has its own misdemeanor and infraction grade violations codified in their statutes. A common charge in all areas is log book violations, which are generally misdemeanor charges. The charge can be as simple as failure to timely update to violation of the mandatory rest period. Other misdemeanor charges can be failure to carry a working fire extinguisher and failure to secure a load.

Our lawyers can evaluate your case and strive to reach a resolution that prevents a criminal conviction, prevents further suspensions, and gets you back on the road.

Attack That Ticket Massachusetts
160 Doyle Road
Holden, MA 01520

CALL: 1-877-99-NoTix  (1-877-996-6849)     Email:

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Attack That Ticket for speeding ticket lawyers in MA,  as well as Massachusetts traffic ticket attorneys. As Massachusetts Traffic Court Lawyers they also handle DUI DWI. How to fight a MA speeding ticketHow to defend a DWI in MassachusettsDUI defense Massachusetts. Do you have a suspended license in MassachusettsAggravated Unlicensed Operation. How to defend a drunk driving charge in MA, Traffic Lawyers. We are also criminal defense lawyers.

Massachusetts Traffic Ticket Lawyer, MA DUI Attorneys, MA DWI Lawyer, Massachusetts Speeding Ticket, MA Traffic Courts, Suspended License, Reckless Driving, DMV Hearings

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