Got a speeding ticket and worried about your insurance rate? Most people inMassachusettschallenge their speeding tickets because it will add points to their insurance. As everyone knows, the more points that you have on your insurance, the more you need to pay. To make matters worse, if you have more than 3 speeding tickets in a year, your license can be revoked by the registry. Therefore, when people get speeding tickets some choose to appeal the ticket.
Prior to July 1, 2009, any person who wanted to challenge a speeding ticket must pay $20 to appeal the ticket. The $20 fee was the cost of fighting a speeding ticket in front of a clerk and appealing the clerk’s decision to a judge. After July 1, 2009, the court increased the cost of fighting you ticket in front of clerk to $25 and charges an additional $50 to appeal the clerk’s decision to a clerk. The fee can be waived if the person appealing the ticket is deemed indigent.
Picture taken by Wayan Vota
This increased fee has been challenged as unreasonable and in violation to a person’s constitutional rights. TheSupreme Judicial Court, the highest state court inMassachusettsrecently ruled on Ralph C. Sullivan’s speeding ticket case. On April 30, 2009, Mr. Sullivan received a speeding ticket. Later on Mr. Sullivan decided to appeal his speeding ticket. Once Mr. Sullivan learned of the added fees he challenged the fees for the speeding ticket. Mr. Sullivan argued that the fees to challenge his speeding ticket were in violation of his equal protection rights under the constitution.
Essentially, Mr. Sullivan was arguing that a person who receives a speeding ticket is treated differently than a person who receives any other type of civil infractions. Mr. Sullivan argued that the court requires a person who receives a speeding ticket to pay a fee to challenge the ticket. However, the court does not impose a fee on people who receive civil infractions for possession of marijuana to appeal their ticket. The court may in hopes of increasing funding for the court start adding additional fees to challenge other civil infractions.
TheSupreme Judicial Courtruled against Mr. Sullivan and in favor of the higher fees to appeal a speeding ticket. The court ruled that the fee to appeal a speeding ticket was not in violation a person’s constitutional rights or in violation of equal protection. The court’s rationale was that there was on average 700,000 tickets handed out in a given year. Of those people who receive tickets approximately 200,000 chose to appeal their tickets. TheSupreme Judicial Courtruled that the higher cost to appeal was a reasonable thing for the court system to impose to deter people from frivolous appeals. It would be interesting to see if the courts will try to once again raise the prices in the near future to appeal a speeding ticket. As a practical matter, the economy is bad, the courts are losing funding and the people appealing their speeding tickets are paying more.