Reckless Driving (Quincy & Attleboro Reckless Driving)
What is Reckless Driving in Massachusetts?Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24 (2)(a), to find a defendant guilty of reckless operation / operating recklessly, the prosecution must prove the following three (3) elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
- On a public way or place where the public has a right of access (in the Commonwealth);
- In a reckless manner.
What does “reckless manner” mean?
In Massachusetts, a person operates “recklessly” if he or she does so in a way that is very likely to cause serious injury or death to someone, or if he or she is indifferent as to whether someone is seriously injured or killed.
To find a defendant guilty of reckless operation, it is not enough to prove he or she acted negligently. Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 90 §24 (2)(a), there does not need to be a motor vehicle accident for the defendant to be guilty of reckless operation, nor does there need to be anyone else on the road.
Factors to be considered include but are not limited to:
- the defendant’s speed and manner of operation;
- the time of day;
- weather conditions;
- the amount of traffic and/or pedestrians in the area.
Whether an accident occurred is a factor to consider; however, an accident is not by itself evidence the defendant was reckless. A charge of reckless operation often accompanies an OUI/DUI charge in Massachusetts and the defendant’s impairment is another factor that may be considered.
Penalties for Operating Recklessly in Massachusetts
Reckless operation is a misdemeanor crime in Massachusetts punishable by a term of imprisonment not more than two (2) years. As an alternative to incarceration, probation, fines and fees, and a requirement to complete a driver safety course are potential sentences. Additionally, a conviction for operating recklessly results in a sixty (60) days license suspension / revocation.
There may be enhanced penalties in cases involving serious injury or where the defendant was previously convicted of reckless operation. If the defendant is facing charges for OUI/DUI in addition to reckless operation, there is the potential for more serious penalties.
Massachusetts Criminal Defense Law Firm
If you are facing charges of reckless operation in the Commonwealth, whether or not accompanied by OUI/DUI charges, it is important to consult with an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer about your case. At Riccio Law, Attorney Anthony R. Riccio is well-versed in handling criminal cases involving any number of driving offenses, including reckless operation, negligent operation, and OUI/DUI/DWI.
Massachusetts Criminal Law FAQ’s
There is no specific speed that needs to be reached for a reckless operation charge in Massachusetts. While speed is a factor considered, it is not the only factor and may not necessarily result in reckless operation charges. The weather and traffic conditions, time of day, and manner in which the operator was driving are additional factors taken into consideration. Whether there was an accident and injuries are also factors, but an accident by itself does not automatically mean the driver was reckless.
Although reckless operation is a misdemeanor in Massachusetts, it should be taken seriously by anyone charged with the crime. While it may not result in jail time, a guilty finding / conviction for reckless operation will almost certainly result in a sixty-day license revocation and hundreds of dollars in fines and fees, including probation fees and a license reinstatement fee.
Generally, the fines for speeding violations are $50 plus $10 for every mile per hour over the speed limit in excess of ten miles per hour over the limit. Additionally, a $50 head injury surcharge will be assessed. As such, the minimum fine is $100 but there is no established maximum fine.
To find someone guilty of reckless operation, it must be proven that the defendant’s driving was very likely to cause serious injury or death to someone, or the defendant was indifferent as to whether someone was seriously injured or killed. For example, an individual driving on the highway at speeds in excess of 100MPH and weaving in and out of heavy traffic while it’s raining outside may be charged with reckless operation even if there was no accident or injuries.
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles may (and shall unless otherwise recommended by the judge) revoke the defendant’s license for sixty (60) days after a conviction / guilty finding for the charge of negligent operation. However, a CWOF should not trigger a license suspension or revocation from the MA RMV.
The penalties and length of probation after receiving a CWOF on a negligent operation charge in Massachusetts will vary from case-to-case. Some of the factors considered include whether any other criminal charges were issued (i.e., OUI/DUI), whether there was an accident and/or any injuries to other drivers, passengers, and/or pedestrians, as well as the defendant’s driving history and criminal record, if any.Generally, the defendant will be required to pay a monthly probation fee ranging from $50-$65 and ordered not to drive without a valid driver’s license. However, a CWOF on a negligent operation charge should not trigger a license suspension or revocation. Additionally, the defendant may be ordered to attend and complete a driver safety program or classes.
No. Under M.G.L Ch. 90 §24 2(a), negligent operation is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 2 years in jail / house of correction. Additionally, a conviction / guilty finding will result in a sixty-day license suspension by the MA RMV.