Speeding in Massachusetts
Massachusetts drivers have a reputation for driving fast, particularly around Boston. That doesn’t mean that you can get away with speeding, however. Esurance ranks Massachusetts in its top 10 states that give out the most speeding tickets (Massachusetts came in at #9, just above Connecticut). Keep in mind that “keeping up with traffic” does not work as a good excuse in court if you try to appeal a ticket, so it’s a good idea to keep your speed in check even if other drivers are way above the speed limit. Driving safely is particularly important because in Massachusetts speeding points are automatically linked to insurance premiums. Your rate will go up by a prescribed amount if you are convicted of a speeding violation.
How Much Does a Massachusetts Speeding Ticket Cost?
Traffic ticket fines are consistent throughout Massachusetts, so speeding will cost you the same amount whether it’s in Boston or New Bedford. What will make a difference is how fast you were driving. Massachusetts charges a flat $50 for speeding 10 mph over the speed limit or less. There is also a flat $50 fine for each ticket that goes to the state’s Head Injury Treatment Services Trust Fund. In addition, MA charges $10 per mph more than 10 mph over the speed limit. For example, if you were driving 45 mph in a 30 mph zone (15 mph over the speed limit), you’d be charged an additional $50 for a total of $150.
Massachussetts’ Point System: “Surchargeable Points” (means a surcharge/increase to your insurance rate)
Massachusetts’s point system is linked directly to your insurance premium. The state has something called the Safe Driver Insurance Program (SDIP), which rewards safe drivers but mandates that insurance premiums are increased for drivers with points on their record. That’s why Massachusetts calls them “surchargeable points” – they result in a surcharge to your insurance rate. Speeding is considered a minor traffic violation, which is worth 2 SDIP points. Other violations, such as running through a stop sign or causing an accident, will also result in points. You can see a full breakdown of the policy on the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website. If you start receiving points, your insurance premium will go up by the following percentages:
- 1: 15%
- 2: 30%
- 3: 45%
- 4: 60%
- 5: 75%
- 6: 90%
- 7: 105%
- 8: 120%
- 9: 135%
- 10: 150%
And the percentages only go up from there. As you can likely imagine, this can result in a lot of money. NerdWallet has calculated that the average speeding ticket recipient in Massachusetts pays between $172 and $323 more in insurance per year.
Excellent Driver Discounts
The flip side to these premium increases is that if you have an excellent driving record, you’ll pay less on insurance. The biggest discount is called “Excellent Driver Discount Plus” and applies when you have at least 6 years of driving experience and have had no surchargeable events in the last 6 years. That’s worth a 17% insurance premium discount. If you have at least 5 years of driving experience with either no violations, or a single violation that’s over 3 years old, you qualify for the “Excellent Driver Discount” and receive a 7% discount. It certainly pays not to speed in Massachusetts!
Clearing Points from Your Record
In general, points will stay on your record for 6 years, which means paying increased insurance premiums for at least 6 years. However, there is one way to remove points from your record. It’s called the “Clean in 3” rule, and it has the following 3 requirements:
- You have 3 or fewer offenses from the 5 years preceding your insurance policy’s effective date
- You don’t have any surchargeable offenses in the past 3 years
- You have at least 3 years of driving experience
If you meet these 3 requirements, one point will be erased from your record each year. In addition, you get a freebie if you have an excellent driving record. If you haven’t had any citations in the past 5 years, you won’t receive any surcharge points for your first minor traffic violation.
Driver’s License Suspensions
Speeding and other traffic violations can also result in a suspended driver’s license. License status depends on the number of violations, rather than the number or surcharge points. For example, if you were caught speeding on two different occasions, you would have 4 points but only 2 violations. Your license will be suspended if you are cited for the following number of violations:
- 3 violations within 1 year: 30-day suspension
- 3 violations within 2 years: suspension until completion of training program
- 5 violations within 3 years: suspension until completion of training program
- 7 violations within 3 years: 60-day suspension
- 12 violations within 5 years: 4-year suspension
As you can see, some suspensions require you to complete a “Driver Retraining Program” in order to have your license reinstated. This is an 8-hour defensive driving course, and you’ll also have to pay a course fee of $135.
Appealing a Massachusetts Speeding Ticket
If you simply want to pay your speeding ticket, you have 20 days to pay it. Considering the long-term costs, however, it may be worth appealing. If you wish to dispute your ticket, you can request a civil hearing with a Massachusetts court magistrate, which requires paying a $25 fee. At a hearing, a representative of the police department will read a report from the officer who cited you. Then you will have an opportunity to explain why you believe you should not be responsible for the ticket. You are allowed to bring witnesses, any evidence you may have, and an attorney if you wish.
Hiring Professional Help
If you choose to appeal your ticket, hiring an experienced lawyer can make an enormous difference. A qualified traffic attorney will be familiar with the legal system and will help you to make the best possible case. If you are considering hiring an attorney, we invite you to post your case on BernieSez for free. After you upload the details of your case, Massachusetts lawyers will be able to review your ticket and contact you with customized quotes. Then you can hire a lawyer who fits your budget. Dealing with a speeding ticket can be difficult enough, so we want to make it easy for you to find affordable legal representation.