Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle

Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle shouldn’t even be a crime.  It should be left to the civil courts.  But our legislature can’t help from criminalizing every type of conduct it possibly can, so now even negligence is criminal and punishable by up to two years in the house of correction. In my opinion whoever voted for this law should have been the ones punished.  But police officers seem to love it, charging it either in conjunction with a drunk driving case or when an accident occurs, or sometimes even when there is no accident. 

The problem with this crime, which makes it very hard to defend, is that it can cover just about anything.  And it is so haphazardly and sometimes hypocritically applied.  One person gets stopped for speeding and gets a ticket. But the next person driving the same speed on the same road can get the same ticket, and also get charged with Negligent Operation. Completely unfair.  Most of the time though this charge is brought in conjunction with a drunk driving case or an accident.  Careful, confident and good lawyering can, however, prevail against these types of cases.  The key is to convince the judge or jury that the driving in question wasn’t abnormal.  That it was mere speeding for example. Or that somebody crossed the double line on purpose to avoid something on the side of the road.  Making the jury think- “I do that all the time and I wouldn’t want to get charged with a crime” is the best way to win these types of cases.

Leaving the scene of an accident can be a much more serious and dangerous charge. Just about every time this is charged it comes with an implied accusation that the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or was in possession of drugs or a gun or something he or she was not supposed to have.  Simple leaving the scene carries up to two and half years in the house of correction but aggravating circumstances can trigger more serious charges with higher penalties and mandatory minimum jail sentences.

Scully & Lagos have successfully defended hundreds of clients charged with motor vehicle offenses such as these, helping clients avoid convictions in District and Superior Courts throughout Massachusetts.

Below is a survey of recent cases successfully defended by Scully & Lagos


Commonwealth v. John Doe, 1759AC00995

Marshfield Police alleged that 21 year old Client and some friends were riding motor cycles at a high rate of speed through the town. When the police activated their lights, Clients friends pulled over, but Client did not. Instead he sped away at allegedly 100 MPH and nearly caused several collisions at an intersection. When Police finally caught up with him he was home, had parked his bike in his garage, but confessed it was him who sped away on the motorcycle. Case was dismissed after client agreed to sell the motorcycle and apologize to Marshfield Police.


Commonwealth v. John Doe, 1659AC000354

Client was summonsed for a clerk’s hearing in the Plymouth District Court after causing a motor vehicle accident on Route 139 in Marshfield. The police had suspended his license under the Imminent Threat law and had uncovered some information that the client had been drinking alcohol or using drugs around the time of the accident. At the clerk’s hearing we were able to persuade the magistrate that that he was not under the influence of alcohol and that the client had sufficient insurance to cover any anticipated losses. Once the case was dismissed the Registry reinstated Client’s license after he had taken a driving safety course, provided certain documentation, and of course paid the RMV reinstatement fee.


Commonwealth v. John Doe, 2014-CR-789

Client was charged in Hingham District Court, with reckless operation and drunk driving by the Norwell Police. According to the police report, client was speeding 30 mph over the limit and swerving over the double yellow line at 1am. Norwell Police alleged client had glassy, blood shot eyes, and had an odor of alcohol. They also alleged that he was unsteady on his feet and failed three field sobriety tests: The one leg stand, the nine step walk and turn, and the alphabet test. Their case unraveled when the defense presented the video recording of client’s booking that took place a short time later. That video contradicted every observation alleged by the police. The defense also presented two civilian witnesses who had been with client prior to his arrest and testified that he had been socially drinking but was fine to drive as well as evidence suggesting that it was impossible to travel at the alleged speed on the road in question. This evidence lead to an acquittal of both charges.


Commonwealth v. Jane Doe, 1153CR001448

Client was involved in a near fatal car accident involving an MBTA bus. She was severely injured but the bus driver accused client of causing the accident. The case was investigated by the MBTA Police. Surprise! They sided with the bus driver against client and charged her criminally. The jury saw through the hypocrisy and found client Not Guilty.

Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle is a very serious charge in Massachusetts. This is not a minor charge, such as speeding, where you simply pay a civil penalty. This is a criminal misdemeanor charge and the courts handle it accordingly. An officer can stop you and charge you with negligent or reckless operation of a motor vehicle for any of the following:

  • Speeding in a populated area
  • Failing to check for pedestrians while driving through a crosswalk
  • In conjunction with an OUI charge

No matter what you did to cause the officer to stop you, you and your license are now in trouble. Upon stopping you, the officer has a choice, issue you a citation or arrest you. Either way, you will have to appear in court and you should have a well-qualified, criminal attorney at your side when you do. That is why you should contact Attorney Liam D. Scully if you face negligent or reckless operation of a motor vehicle charges in the Boston, MA area. Conviction of negligent or reckless operation of a motor vehicle carries the following penalties:

  • $20 to $200 in fines
  • Two weeks to two years in jail
  • Both a fine and jail time
  • $250 Head Injury Assessment Fee

In order to find you guilty, the Commonwealth will need to prove the following in court:

  • That you were the one driving the vehicle
  • That you were driving in a public area
  • That your driving potentially or actually endangered the safety of the people in the area

It is also possible for your attorney to obtain a CWOF (Continuance Without Finding) for you. In essence, you admit that there is sufficient evidence for the courts to find you guilty. However, because this is your first offense, the courts have you pay some fines and serve probation. This does not show up on your record as a guilty verdict and allows you to truthfully say that you have no criminal convictions. Attorney Scully is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and the Massachusetts Bar Association. His 15 years of criminal defense experience allow him to provide his clients with the best possible defense. His vast knowledge the criminal and motor vehicle laws in Massachusetts allows him to isolate the evidence necessary to obtain the best possible result for his clients.

Scroll to Top