Fight Traffic Ticket in Massachusetts

Stuck with a ticket you don't deserve? You don't have to sit idly by. Fight your Massachusetts traffic ticket by pleading "not guilty" and going to court.

Read below to find out how, and see what you can expect during the process.

Pleading Not Guilty in Massachusetts

Pleading "not guilty" is fairly simple, but the process varies slightly depending on whether you received a civil or criminal citation.

Check your ticket to determine which type of infraction you were cited with before proceeding.

*NOTE: Before going to court, remember: A "not guilty" plea means you feel you did not violate the law, and, most likely, you have some evidence to prove it. Expect court officials to question you on your innocence.

Civil Citations

You have 20 days to respond to a civil traffic ticket in Massachusetts.

If you wish to appeal your citation (i.e., plead "not guilty"), you have to request a court hearing by:

  • Including a $25 check or money order payable to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in your response.
    • The money is your court filing fee.
  • Checking Box 2 on your ticket, to request a court hearing.
  • Signing and dating the back of your ticket where indicated.

The envelope should be provided with your traffic ticket. Write your name and address on it.

Mail the money, along with your signed and dated citation, to:

Citation Processing Center
P.O. Box 55890
Boston, MA 02205

The proper court should respond with the time and date of your arraignment. If you did not send the fee, the court will also send instructions on how to pay it online or by mail.

The letter will include a time frame to pay your fee. If you don't pay in time, you could be subject to:

  • Paying additional fees.
  • Losing your court date.
  • Having your license suspended/revoked.

Criminal Citations

You have 4 days to respond to a criminal traffic ticket in Massachusetts.

To contest the ticket, you'll have to:

  • Sign and date the ticket where indicated.
  • Return it to the specific court for the area where you were cited.

Since the deadline to respond to a criminal citation is so short, consider returning it to the court in person, rather than via mail.

Either way, do NOT use the envelope that comes with the ticket.

The appropriate court name and address should be written on the front of your ticket, or you can look up the specific court you need online.

Fighting Your MA Traffic Ticket

Generally, fighting a traffic ticket comes in several phases: your arraignment and your trial.

Before starting, consider hiring an MA traffic ticket attorney. Otherwise, you'll have to represent yourself in court.

After pleading “not guilty" at your arraignment, you'll be given your trial date, which may or may not take place on the same day.

At your trial, you will hear from the officer who wrote the ticket or another officer from the same department. He or she will testify on behalf of the police.

You will then get the chance to:

  • Question the officer.
  • Argue the law.
  • Call witnesses.
  • Present other evidence, such as:
    • Photos.
    • Documents.

Once all sides are heard from, your case will be considered and decided on by a judicial officer.

Potential Costs

There's more than just court fees at stake when you fight a traffic ticket.

Don't forget to keep these potential additional costs in mind before making your decision:

  • Lawyer fees.
  • Your traffic ticket fine.
  • Additional fees charged by the court.
  • Time off work to attend court.
  • An increased auto insurance rate if you lose.
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Consequences of Fighting Your Ticket

After considering your case, the court will either rule in your favor or declare you guilty.

If you win the case, and are found not guilty, you will NOT:

  • Need to pay your MA traffic ticket fine.
  • Have the infraction included on your driving record.

You may need to sign additional paperwork at this time. Ask the court official or your lawyer about how to wrap up the process.

If you lose the case, and you are found guilty, you will:

  • Pay the original ticket fine.
  • Pay additional court and ticket fees.
  • Have the citation added to your driving record.

Depending on the severity of the violation, you may also face:

Make sure to ask the court or your traffic attorney about all possible outcomes of losing your trial.

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Missing Your Court Date

You will be penalized for missing your court date no matter what, but how deeply depends on what type of infraction and why you missed court.

Civil Traffic Tickets

If you have a civil citation, and missed court because you forgot or for another reason within your control, you will have to pay your ticket fine in full within 20 days of your scheduled hearing.

If you miss the deadline, additional fees will apply.

Criminal Traffic Tickets

If you have a criminal citation, and missed court because you forgot or for another reason within your control, you will receive a summons to appear before the judge. If you fail to show up for this date, as well, you could face:

  • A suspended driver's license.
  • A warrant for your arrest.
  • Additional, substantial fines.
  • Being denied any of the following:
    • Unemployment.
    • Workers' compensation.
    • Public assistance benefits.
    • State tax refunds.
  • Any professional licenses/permits you hold being revoked, suspended or denied.

Extenuating Circumstances—Civil or Criminal Tickets

If you missed court because of reasons outside of your control, whether for a civil OR criminal case, you can file a motion with the court explaining why you missed your hearing.

File as soon as possible after missing your date. Note that this does NOT guarantee an appeal.

If you know you have a conflict of interest on your court date, it's strongly recommended to request a rescheduling of your hearing as soon as possible. Contact the court where your case will be heard for more information.

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