Negligent Operation, also referred to as operating negligently so as to endanger, is a criminal offense. A criminal charge for Negligent Operation can result in a criminal conviction on your record, a potential loss of your driver's license and can even result in potential jail time. If your employment requires driving or is subject to an RMV driver's history check, it is vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who handles these cases regularly, both in the Massachusetts courts and at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
You may be charged with Negligent Operation in Massachusetts if the police conclude that you drove your car in a manner that endangered the lives and safety of the public. Any time you do not use due care when you are driving, it is possible that you could be charged with Negligent Operation. If you are charged with Negligent Operation, it is important that you reach out to a Negligent Operation lawyer. Attorney David Ellison has handled countless cases of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle in his career.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR NEGLIGENT OPERATION?
A Negligent Operation charge has consequences for your insurance rates, your criminal record, and your license status. In Massachusetts, under Massachusetts General Laws chapter 90 section 24 Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle carries the following potential penalties:
- Jail not less than 2 weeks, not more than 2 years
- Potential $200 fine
- Potential Misdemeanor Criminal Conviction
- Possible Probation
- Mandatory Fees
- Possible 60-day license loss
- Possible 1 year license loss for a subsequent offense within 3 years
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF NEGLIGENT OPERATION?
To convict you for Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, the prosecution must prove you did the following three things:
- That you operated a motor vehicle;
- That you did so on a public way; and
- That you did so in a negligent manner so that the lives or safety of the public might have been endangered.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO OPERATE A MOTOR VEHICLE IN MASSACHUSETTS?
Many times, operation can be obvious such as, for example, when the police observe you driving your car and initiate a traffic stop for a moving violation. However, sometimes it is not so obvious. To prove operation, the prosecution must show that you intentionally manipulated some mechanical or electrical part of your vehicle (i.e., the gear shift or the ignition) which, alone or in sequence, would set the vehicle in motion. Under the law, to “operate” a motor vehicle within the meaning of the law, it is not necessary that the engine be running.
WHAT IS A PUBLIC WAY IN MASSACHUSETTS?
Although this may not always be an issue in a trial, it can arise. Generally, people who operate a motor vehicle do so on a public way, but sometimes this is not the case. Any street or highway that is open to the public and controlled and maintained by some level of government is considered a “public way.” Interstate and state highways along with municipal streets and roads are considered a “public way.” Massachusetts General Laws c. 90, § 1 defines a public way as the following: “any public highway, [or a] private way [that is] laid out under authority of [a] statute, [or a] way dedicated to public use, or [a] way [that is] under [the] control of park commissioners or [a] body having [similar] powers.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO NEGLIGENTLY OPERATE A MOTOR VEHICLCE SO AS TO ENDANGER THE LIVES OR SAFETY OF THE PUBLIC IN MASSACHUSETTS?
You are negligent when you fail to use due care, that is, when you act in a way that a reasonable person would not act. This can happen either by doing something that a reasonably prudent person would not do under those circumstances, or by failing to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do. You are considered to have acted negligently if you drove in a way that a reasonable person would not have, and by doing so created an unnecessary danger to other people, a danger that you could have avoided by driving more carefully.
If you are charged with negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, do not hesitate to contact a Massachusetts Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle lawyer, David Ellison, today.