Chief’s Column: Warnings, traffic tickets and fines can add up

PoliceCar3Grafton Police Chief Normand Crepeau Jr. has been kind enough to share his “Chief’s Column” with Greater Grafton readers. Thank you, chief!

QUESTION: I was recently stopped by a police officer for speeding.  The officer issued me a “warning citation” and told me that no further action on my part was required.  Could you please tell me what kind of tickets can be issued for traffic offenses in Massachusetts.

ANSWER: A written traffic ticket, with “Massachusetts Uniform Citation” at the top is the standard ticket issued by local and State Police. Charges can be civil or criminal dependant on the seriousness of the offense. In many cases, officers also have the discretion to issue warning citations.  If fines apply, you may have the option to pay online.  A citation may affect your insurance, as determined by the Merit Rating Board. Contact your insurance agent for more information about the effect of a ticket on your insurance.

Civil traffic charges include speeding, running a red light, crossing marked lanes, and most other moving violations.  Civil charges result in a fine being levied, which is payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Speeding fines are calculated based upon how far over the speed limit you were going in miles per hour (mph).  The minimum fine for speeding is $100.00 for 1 – 10 mph over the speed limit.  For every mph in excess of 10 mph, simply multiply the amount by 10.  For example, a motorist going 15 mph over the speed limit would be fined $150.00.  The fines for speeding in a marked construction zone will be doubled.

Civil traffic charges do not result in arrest.  All citizens have the right to appeal civil citation charges before a Clerk Magistrate by following the procedures listed on the back of your citation.  All Grafton civil traffic appeals are heard at the Westborough District Court.

In some cases, a criminal complaint may be issued as a result of a motor vehicle stop.  Some examples of criminal charges include driving under the influence, driving to endanger, failure to stop for a police officer, driving without a license, etc.  Criminal charges may or may not result in your arrest.  If you are cited for criminal charges on your ticket, you will notice that there is no fine levied immediately.  Instead, you must appear in Court to answer the charges.  Fines or other consequences will be determined by the Judge.  Criminal charges are not appealed like civil charges are.  Instead, appeals may be filed by your attorney after your initial court appearance.  Adult criminal cases are heard at Westborough District Court or sometimes at Worcester District Court for jury trials. Juvenile (under 17 years of age) criminal hearings are heard at the Juvenile Court in Worcester.

Like a citation, a warning is written on the Massachusetts Uniform Citation.  If the box marked “WARNING” above the officer’s signature is checked, then no action is required by the violator.  Warnings shouldn’t affect your insurance or merit rating but, if you accumulate three within one year, the Registry has the option of suspending your license.  There is no appeal procedure for warnings.  Verbal warnings are only tracked on the in-house records system in the police department and no fine or other consequence is levied.

Anyone with questions for the Chief’s Column may submit them by mail to the Grafton Police Department, 28 Providence Road, Grafton, MA 01519.  You may also email your questions or comments to chief@graftonpolice.com.  Please include an appropriate subject line, as I do not open suspicious email for obvious reasons.

Normand A. Crepeau, Jr.

Chief of Police

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