Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of Case Filed Against Massachusetts Board of Selectmen Following Speeding Ticket

There’s an expression to the effect that “you can’t fight city hall.” While this statement is not always true (after all, an assertive Cape Cod criminal defense attorney may be of great assistance in defeating a particular accusation of wrongdoing), there is some truth to the sentiment that it can sometimes be a complicated endeavor to challenge the ruling of a municipal official on a relatively minor point. Those who aspire to fight the ruling of a government official, such as a clerk or magistrate who finds that one has violated the speed limit, should be mindful that, unless proper procedures are followed, the effort is likely to be in vain.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was given a speeding ticket for driving in excess of the posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour in a certain town in 2011. The plaintiff contested his responsibility for the infraction (which was defined as a “civil motor vehicle infraction”) by requesting a hearing. The clerk-magistrate found the plaintiff responsible for the infraction. Although the plaintiff could have requested a de novo hearing in district court, he apparently paid the ticket and filed a separate lawsuit against the defendant board of selectmen instead, alleging that he was unlawfully cited and fined. The superior court dismissed the plaintiff’s case in its entirety.

Decision of the Court

The court of appeals affirmed the lower tribunal’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit. First, the court noted that there are two primary statutes dealing with the issue of speed restrictions within the Commonwealth:  Massachusetts General Laws ch. 90, §§ 17 and 18. According to the court, when these two statutes are considered together, the result is that there appears to be a scheme in which posted speed limits govern over the presumptive limits, while the presumed speed limits apply on roadways without posted limits.

However, in this particular case, the court found it unnecessary to reach the merits of the plaintiff’s claims regarding the propriety of the ticket he received because he had waived his right to contest the civil infraction because he had failed to pursue the remedy expressly provided by the statutes. Since he had paid his assessment and filed the current case – rather than pursuing an appeal from the magistrate’s ruling – the magistrate’s ruling operated as the final disposition of the matter.

Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney on Cape Cod

Being accused of a violation of the law – even for a relatively minor offense such as violating the speed limit – can have numerous consequences for the alleged offender’s future. The experienced Cape Cod criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, can help if you or a loved one has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense, such as operating under the influence (OUI), operating without a license, or reckless driving. Call us at 888-262-6664 to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.

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