Traffic Tickets (Citations) and Surcharge Points

If you get a traffic ticket, you'll need to decide whether to pay the fine and accept the penalty placed on your driving record or to contest the ticket and plead not guilty. Choosing the first of these options is simpler, although your car insurance rates may go up at renewal time. 

Accepting the Penalty Online

If you would like to accept the penalty and pay the fine online you should wait at least ten days after receiving the ticket to ensure the online systems have a record of the ticket.  You will be able to pay using most major credit cards or electronic check.  Note: parking tickets are not collected by the RMV.  You will need to go to your local city or town office to pay the ticket.

Visit the RMV site here to pay a citation online.

Fighting the Ticket

You may go to traffic court and plead “not guilty” if you believe you were not in violation of Massachusetts law or if you believe there are extenuating circumstances.  You may want to contact a traffic attorney before you go to court.

More: Cheap car insurance in Massachusetts

Lost Your Ticket

If you have lost your ticket, and it is a Civil Traffic Citation, then you should contact your local RMV office quickly.  If it is a Criminal Traffic Citation you will need to contact the appropriate District Court.

Civil vs. Criminal Traffic Citation 

If you aren't sure whether your citation is for a civil or criminal violation, search the front of your citation for the checkbox called "ALL CIVIL INFRACTIONS".  If that is checked then you only have civil violations.  If is not, you are likely to have a criminal violation as well.  Each offense has it's own row of information as well.  You should see one or more of those checked off as a criminal violation.

Surcharge Points for Your Tickets

Massachusetts created the Safe Driver Insurance Program (SDIP) to manage the variety of traffic violations and their effect on your automobile insurance.  Each violation can have up to 5 SDIP Points.  Higher points on your record usually mean higher insurance premiums.  Having too many surchargeable violations can also cause you to have your license suspended.

Violations fall into one of 4 main categories and each category has a specific number of surcharge points.

Minor Traffic Law Violation 2 points
Minor At-Fault Accident 3 points
Major At-Fault Accident 4 points
Major Traffic Law Violation 5 points

Example Minor Traffic Violations

  • Failure to obey sign
  • Failure to obey traffic control signal
  • Following too closely
  • Improper passing
  • Making a turn from the wrong lane of traffic

Example Major Traffic Violations

  • Driving to endanger or reckless driving
  • Leaving Scene of Accident after Injuring a Person
  • Operating under the influence
  • Operating after revocation of license
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Refusing to Stop for Officer

Expiration of Surchage Points with Respect to Insurance

When calculating your SDIP Rating, the insurers go back 6 years.

For details on all the surchargeable incidents visit the Mass RMV site.