What is Negligent or Reckless Operation of a Motor Vehicle?
Negligent Operation also known as Driving to Endanger is governed under M.G.L. c. 90 § 24.
Driving to Endanger is simply defined as driving a motor vehicle such that the lives or safety of the public may be endangered.
Negligent Operation charges are often additional charges following an OUI arrest. However, the charge can also be a stand alone charge if the police believe you operated a motor vehicle in a manner they believe to be un-safe on a public way in Massachusetts.
Negligent Operation and OUI Charges
Very frequently, individuals who are charged and arrested for OUI/DUI are also charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle. The main offense being the OUI/DUI charge but police add a separate charge of negligent operation. It is fair to assume that if you are arrested and charged with OUI/DUI that you were operating a motor vehicle in a manner that would put the lives or safety of the public at risk.
Additional charges when added to an OUI arrest provide flexibility to you and also the jury or judge who will hear the case. Negligent Operation convictions have less severe consequences than OUI/DUI convictions. Often a jury or judge may found a defendant not guilty of the OUI/DUI but guilty of the lesser charge of Negligent Operation. It provides flexibility.
Consequences of Negligent Operation Convictions
A conviction of negligent operation can carry serious penalties, fines and license suspension consequences.
If convicted of negligent operation of a motor vehicle, possible penalties include:
- Up to 2 Years in Jail
- Driver's License Suspension of a minimum 60 days and up to a one year license suspension
- Court Fines and Fees
Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF) and Negligent Operation
One main difference between an OUI/DUI and Negligent Operation is that a Continuance Without a Finding (CWOF) to the Negligent Operation charge does not carry any license suspension.
For the Registry of Motor Vehicles to suspend a drivers license for negligent operation there must be a guilty finding. Anything short of a guilty and there can be no suspension.
A continuance without a finding can result in probation and court fines, fees but it will not generate a license suspension.
Receiving a Citation for Negligent Operation and Not Arrested
If you were not arrested, but received a ticket/citation by the police and charged with negligent operation/reckless operation or driving to endanger, you have the right to a Clerk Magistrate's Hearing.
A Clerk Magistrate's Hearing is called a Show Cause Hearing. A Show Cause Hearing allows you to contest the charge prior to the issuance of the criminal compliant against you.
It is always a benefit to contest Negligent Operation charges. Contesting the charges a Show Cause Hearing provides you the opportunity to resolve the case before it becomes a formal charge and before it ever goes on your record.
If you and your Attorney are able to be successful at the Show Cause Hearing, typically clerk's will agree to resolve the whole case by assessing a fine or requiring you to complete a driving retraining course. If you comply with the conditions imposed by the clerk, the case will be closed without a formal compliant being issued.
If successful at the Show Cause Hearing there will be no record of the charges on a criminal record and no license suspension.
How to Request a Show Cause or Clerk Magistrate Hearing
If you were issued a citation and you want to request a Show Cause or Magistrate Hearing you must sign the back of the citation under section three if it is a handwritten citation. If you received a electronically prepared citation you must sign the front of the citation.
After signing the ticket you must locate the court that is identified on the lower right hand corner of the ticket and deliver the it to the Clerks Office within Four Days.
What to Do If Convicted of Negligent Operation
If you were charged and convicted of negligent operation, your drivers license will be suspended for at least 60 days and up to one year. The Registry of Motor Vehicles will not issue a hardship license or cinderella license if you have a suspension for negligent operating under any circumstances. The Registry takes the position that this is a mandatory license suspension and that they have no ability to grant any relief.
This is where Gilman Law, P.C., can help. We have helped clients across Massachusetts suspended for negligent operation, get relief from the suspension by filing with the Massachusetts Division of Insurance Board of Appeals. The Board of Appeals has the statutory authority to grant you relief by ordering the Registry to issue you relief. This may be a hardship license or it could shorten your suspension.
Why Gilman Law, P.C.
At Gilman Law, P.C., we specialize in OUI/DUI and related motor vehicle crimes and license suspension law. We understand the ins and outs not just of the criminal charges but also the Registry of Motor Vehicle consequences.
It is important to speak to a law firm that understands not just the court process but also the collateral impacts when being charged with negligent operation. Gilman Law, P.C., has represented clients across Massachusetts and resolved these matters at the Clerk Magistrate Hearing thereby avoiding any formal charges being brought in court. Contact Gilman Law, P.C. today for a Free Consultation.