Do his speeding tickets still count against him if he won the court case?
November 17, 2007 6:19 PM   Subscribe

Please make sense of Massachusetts' "surchargeable events" policy as it relates to license suspensions, particularly if these events are contested in court.

As of tonight, my friend has gotten his fourth ticket in two years. The first two, he fought in court and won. He is contesting the third in court this upcoming week and has a very strong case - Ticket claims he failed to stop for a stop sign, stop sign was behind a cement wall of an overpass, police officer could not have seen him roll through the stop even if he did do it. The fourth is for going 53 in a 35.

The police officer who he spoke with tonight said that the policy in MA is that 5 surchargeable events in 7 years calls for an automatic 30-day license suspension. The officer also said that the two tickets that my friend successfully contested in court still count against this total of 5.

I have already found sources online ( that say the real rule is that 5 events in 7 years calls for a driver retraining course. But is the officer correct that the charges brought against my friend still count against them if a court found him to not be responsible for them?
posted by lizzicide to Law & Government (3 answers total)
Best answer: It depends on the specific action of the court. If the charges were "dismissed" or if the court issued a "not guilty" ruling then I can't imagine that those events could possibly qualify. The whole point of winning a criminal case is to escape *all* punishment / legal consequence and "double jeopardy" (being twice tried for the same crime) is unconstitutional.

If the priors were "suspended" or otherwise set aside, then yes, they can all come back to haunt. DUIs generally work that way, with a significant portion of the potential penalty suspended but coming back full force on commission of a subsequent DUI.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 6:26 PM on November 17, 2007

Best answer: The charges will not count if the tickets were dismissed.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:24 PM on November 17, 2007

Massachusetts considers driving a privilege, not a right, and will suspend that privilege without due process. For example, if a cop pulls you over and you refuse to take a field breath test, your license is automatically suspended for 180 days - not by the courts, but by the DMV - even if you are acquitted of OUI. So although it seems wrong, the DMV may very well include tickets that the court has dismissed under whatever arbitrary suspension rules it has.

According to this page at Accumulate five or more in within three years and you'll be facing a choice of driver retraining school or immediate license suspension. Get seven incidents in three years, and you automatically lose your license.

On the other hand, this page at the same site says Every time you are convicted of a moving violation―like a speeding ticket, for example―you get a "surchargeable event" on your record - which implies that dismissed tickets don't count.

There are lots of lawyers in MA who specialize in traffic tickets, and who would explain this for free over the phone in hopes of getting hired to defend your friend.
posted by nicwolff at 8:36 AM on November 18, 2007

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