Operating a Motor Vehicle Recklessly or Negligently So As to Endanger

In Massachusetts, a person may be held criminally liable if they operate a motor vehicle recklessly or if they operate a motor vehicle negligently so as to endanger. In either case, the crime is laid out by M.G.L. c. 90, s. 24(2)(a). M.G.L. c. 90, s. 24(2)(a) provides that any individual who operates a motor vehicle recklessly, or operates such a vehicle negligently so that the lives or safety of the public might be endangered shall be held in violation of this law. A convicted offender shall be subject to the following punishments:
  • A fine ranging from $20-$200, or
  • Mandatory minimum imprisonment for 2 weeks (no more than 2 years), or 
  • Both a fine and imprisonment.
WHAT IS OPERATING RECKLESSLY/RECKLESS DRIVING?
The commonwealth considers a person to be driving recklessly when he or she ignores the fact that the manner of driving is very likely to result in death or serious injury to someone, or he or she is indifferent to whether or not someone could be killed or seriously injured. A person can be found to have driven recklessly even if no accident resulted, and even if there was no one else actually on the road near him. However, the fact that an accident occurred is not by itself evidence that the defendant was reckless. When determining whether the driving was in fact reckless, the jury must consider evidence such as the defendant’s rate of speed and manner of operation, the defendant’s physical condition and how well he or she could see and could control his or her vehicle, the condition of the defendant’s vehicle, what kind of a road it was and who else was on the road, what the time of day, the weather and the condition of the road were, what any other vehicles or pedestrians were doing, and any other factors that you think are relevant.  This is why it is very important to get an experienced motor vehicle criminal defense lawyer experienced with negligence and recklessness issues involved in your motor vehicle case as soon as possible to develop all necessary defenses.

In order to prove the defendant guilty of Reckless Driving, the Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. He or she did so on a way, or in a place where the public has a right of access, or in a place where members of the public have access as invitees or licensees; and
  3. He or she did so in a reckless manner.
OPERATING NEGLIGENTLY SO AS TO ENDANGER
A person acts negligently when he fails to use due care, that is, when he acts 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. The defendant acted negligently if he (she) 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 he (she) could have avoided by driving more carefully. A person can be found to have driven negligently even if no accident resulted, and even if there was no one else actually on the road near him. However, the fact that an accident occurred is not by itself evidence that the defendant was negligent. When determining whether the driving was in fact negligent, the jury must consider evidence such as the defendant’s rate of speed and manner of operation, the defendant’s physical condition and how well he or she could see and could control his or her vehicle, the condition of the defendant’s vehicle, what kind of a road it was and who else was on the road, what the time of day, the weather and the condition of the road were, what any other vehicles or pedestrians were doing, and any other factors that you think are relevant. If the defendant was driving negligent due to the existence of an emergency situation, a jury may be instructed to determine whether the defendant acted as a reasonable person would under similar emergency circumstances.

In order to find the defendant guilty of Operating Negligently So As to Endanger, the Commonwealth must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. He or she did so on a way, or in a place where the public has a right of access, or in a place where members of the public have access as invitees or licensees; and
  3. He or she did so in a negligent manner so that the lives or safety of the public might have been endangered.
HEAD INJURY TREATMENT SERVICES TRUST FUND
In addition to the penalties outlined above, any person convicted of operating a motor vehicle negligently so that the lives or safety of the public might be endangered shall also be fined $250, $150 of which will be donated to the Head Injury Treatment Services Trust Fund, and the remaining amount of the assessment shall be credited to the General Fund. The Head Injury Treatment Services Trust Fund was established under M.G.L. c. 10, s. 59 in 1993 for the purpose of developing and maintaining nonresidential and residential rehabilitation services for those suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI). TBI occurs when the brain is damaged by a force from outside the body such that brain function is disrupted. According to data maintained by the Statewide Head Injury Program (SHIP), each year approximately 28,000 residents of the Commonwealth sustain a brain injury, of whom approximately 2,000 are school-age children.

Meticulous and Aggressive Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crimes Defense Attorney

Massachusetts authorities like to remind citizens that driving is a privilege and not a right. If you have had your driving privileges suspended or revoked for any reason and have been cited for Operating Recklessly or Negligently So As to Endanger, it is highly recommended that you seek an experienced Boston, Massachusetts criminal defense attorney to defend your rights and freedoms. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has been practicing criminal defense law in Massachusetts for nearly two decades, and thanks to his dedication and expertise, he has successfully acquired favorable outcomes or acquittals for his clients. Put Attorney Murphy’s legal expertise to work for you by calling 617-367-0450 or completing the online contact form on our website. As a dedicated legal advocate, Attorney Murphy is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer you a free and confidential legal assessment of your case.
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