Speeding Tickets in Massachusetts
Fighting a Speeding Ticket in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Points – Fines – Reciprocity and Other Issues
Massachusetts has two types of speed limits: (1) absolute and (2) presumed.
Absolute speed limits are those in which you have violated the law if you are even one mile per hour over the speed limit, regardless of whether the speed you were traveling was reasonable under the circumstances. This sort of speed limit is applicable on Turnpikes. See 730 CMR 7.08(6) and the accompanying table for what speed limits are applicable on what portions of the Turnpikes.
Presumed speed limits are the second type of speed limits. On non-turnpike roads in Massachusetts, a person will not be liable for a speeding violation so long as their speed was reasonable and proper under the circumstances. For example, 50 MPH may be reasonable and proper on a four lane highway under clear conditions, but 50 MPH may not be reasonable and proper on a two lane highway under rainy conditions. In theory you can argue that your speed is reasonable and proper but the law creates a presumption, i.e. it is assumed that you did in fact speed under the following circumstances:
(1) exceed 50 MPH for a quarter of a mile on a divided highway outside a thickly settled or business district;
(2) exceed 40 MPH for a quarter of a mile on any other way outside a thickly settled or business district
(3) exceed 30 MPH for one-eighth a mile on a thickly settled or business district
(4) exceed 20 MPH within a school zone.
Municipalities typically post speed limits according to these parameters (e.g. in thickly settled district the town can post a 30 MPH speed limit) and you will be presumed guilty if you exceed that speed limit over the applicable distance, even if you believe that your speed was reasonable and proper. If the speed limit is not posted, then the in order for the State to create the presumption of guilt, it must show that (1) you sped in a particular district (e.g. school zone, business, divided highway, etc.) (2) you exceeded the applicable speed over (3) the applicable distance.
Speeding up to pass in Massachusetts
When an absolute speed limit is posted, it does not matter that you thought it was reasonable to speed up to pass someone. One mile over the speed limit is enough to hold you liable. When there is a presumed speed limit, it is possible to show that it was reasonable and proper under the circumstances to exceed the posted speed in order to pass.
Drag Racing in Massachusetts
Mass. General Laws, Ch. 90, §17B ("MGL 90-17B")places more serious penalties if a driver is caught drag racing. Drag racing according to MGL 90-17B is driving " in a manner where the owner or operator accelerates at a high rate of speed in competition with another operator, whether or not there is an agreement to race, causing increased noise from skidding tires and amplified noise from racing engines." The penalties include: "imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 1/2 years or by a fine of not more than $1,000. The registrar shall suspend such violator's license for a period of not less than 30 days for a first offense and for not less than 180 days for any subsequent violation." A minor caught drag racing faces a "fine of not less than $250 for a first offense and the registrar shall suspend the junior operator's license or learner's permit for 1 year."
Laser and Radar Detectors in Massachusetts
There is no law in Massachusetts that prevents you from having a laser or radar detector in your vehicle.