Negligent Operation in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, Operating Negligently so as to Endanger, or what’s commonly referred to as Operating to Endanger and Negligent Operation, is a commonly charged criminal offense. Individuals arrested for OUI/DUI and at-fault drivers in motor vehicle accidents often face criminal charges of negligent operation in Massachusetts. Police observations of erratic operation, swerving, speeding, or running red lights may not lead to an arrest but can result in a summons to court for negligent operation charges.
What is Operating to Endanger / Negligent Operation in Massachusetts?
Under Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) Chapter 90 Section 24(2)(a), negligent operation is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to two years imprisonment. However, without any aggravating factors or additional charges, negligent operation charges are more likely to result in probation than jail time.
To find someone guilty of negligent operation in the Commonwealth, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
- On a public way;
- In a negligent manner so that lives or safety of the public may have been in danger.
However, because the prosecution is not required to show the defendant’s driving actually caused the lives or safety of the public to be in danger, any number of actions or motor vehicle violations may result in negligent operation charges in Massachusetts.
Although most commonly charged after a car accident or in addition to OUI/DUI charges, neither are required for charges to issue or to obtain a conviction. Factors that may be considered include whether there was any evidence of alcohol or drug use, road and weather conditions, the time of day, and traffic conditions.
Penalties for Negligent Operation in Massachusetts
The penalties for a negligent operation conviction vary depending on the severity of the allegations and the defendant’s criminal and driving history. Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 90 §24(2)(a), a conviction for operating to endanger is punishable by incarceration ranging anywhere from two weeks up to two years.
While probation or a dismissal are also potential resolutions as part of a plea deal, a guilty finding will also result in a 60-day license loss. Additionally, a conviction is punishable by a fine between $20 – $200, in addition to probation fees and a potential license reinstatement fee.
Defenses to Negligent Operation in Massachusetts
Potential defenses to negligent operation charges depend on the specific allegations and strength of the evidence, including whether there are dash cam videos or any other video evidence, the number of alleged traffic violations, whether there was an accident, and if there are any civilian witnesses.
One of the most common defenses to negligent operation charges is a simple but effective one. Often, the strongest defense is to argue the evidence presented by the government does not rise to the level of operating negligently so as to danger and, as such, the prosecution failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Call Our Law Firm in Massachusetts for the Defense You Need
Although not the most serious crime, a conviction for negligent operation in Massachusetts can make life difficult because of the license loss and expenses associated with probation and having a driver’s license reinstated. At our Massachusetts law firm, Founder Anthony R. Riccio has handled hundreds of negligent operation cases as a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor in Bristol County, Massachusetts. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn about the firm’s criminal defense and personal injury practice.