Massachusetts Payment Default Suspensions

Sometimes driver’s receive traffic citations by mail or under other circumstances and they claim that they were the victims of some type of mistaken identity or identity theft, where someone else actually committed the motor vehicle violations.

In some instances, as described below, the driver claims that the citation was issued improperly:

New resident to the state. In October I sent in an appeals notice with a check for a late Sep violation. Nothing was ever sent to me. I contacted RMV and they said they had no record of my ticket but that I would be responsible in case officer decided to submit the violation whenever he felt like it according to some MA code. Luckily I’d scanned the ticket so I give them number and officer’s name but with no violation on file, I was told there was nothing they could do and that I should hunt down the original officer and ask him to submit the violation since I no longer had my own copy because I’d mailed it to them with a check. They also said he may or may not submit it. I told them I’d filed a complaint against this officer as what I deemed was extreme verbally aggressive behavior and that particular complaint was resolved by their Sergeant  w ho handles it. I told this go between person that I was not contacting an officer that I filed a complaint against as I’d already suffered emotional distress from our encounter. I was then told to call the sergeant, but I no longer had his name and none of those numbers they give you allow you to speak to any one. You can only leave a message. By now it didn’t matter because December I got a notice saying I have to pay fine and fees or my license will be suspended end of December. I apparently am no longer even allowed to appeal this violation and am just supposed to pay.

In cases such as this, the driver has two options. First, the driver can contest the citation by mailing it in to the address listed on the back of the citation and checking the box on the citation indicating that the alleged violator wants to exercise his or her rights to appeal the citation. When a driver elects this option, the court system having jurisdiction over the location where the citation was issued will schedule the matter for a hearing before a clerk-magistrate. If you can satisfy the clerk-magistrate that you were improperly cited or you were not the person named in the citation, he or she will issue a not responsible finding and the matter will be closed. The clerk’s office will notify the Registry and your driving record will list the finding as “NR,” for “not responsible.” The Registry will not count the violation against you for 7 surchargeable event or habitual traffic offender revocation purposes.

If the 20 day appeal period has expired, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend your driver’s license or right to operate indefinitely for “payment default.” Your license will remain suspended until you pay the citation or the matter is otherwise resolved. There are 3 ways to resolve a citation after the appeal period has expired. First, you can go to the courthouse having jurisdiction over the location where the violation allegedly occurred and ask for a late hearing. There is no right to such a hearing and it is completely up to the clerk’s office as to whether or not to grant a hearing once the appeal period has expired. Second, the Registry will accept a signed original letter, on police letterhead, from the officer who issued the citation or his or her supervisor, stating that the citation was issued in error. Third, you can exercise your right to appeal the suspension to the Massachusetts Board of Appeal. In some cases, the Board has ordered the Registry to grant a late appeal.

These are the only 3 ways to resolve a citation, other than paying it, after the 20 day appeal period as lapsed. If you do not resolve the citation in one of the above-listed ways, you will not be eligible for a full reinstatement or even a restricted hardship license unless and until you pay the citation and any required late and reinstatement fees. The Registry makes no exception to this rule. You cannot get a hardship license of any kind while your license is under suspension for non-payment of any financial obligation, including payment default.