HABITUAL TRAFFIC OFFENDER DODGES LOSS OF LICENSE

SN, a 23 year old Russian immigrant has a very heavy driving foot. Over the past three and a half years he has accumulated 11 “surchargeable events” on his driving record. Under Massachusetts Law any operator who accumulates 12 “surchargeable events” in a five year period becomes classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) and loses his license for 4 years. After one year there is eligibility to apply for a hardship license. SN was driving home on Route 93 North in Methuen. According to the police officer who pulled him over, SN was going 91 mph in a posted 65 mph zone and the zone was a construction zone (the fines get doubled). The officer cited SN for speeding in a construction zone and for failure to keep right. The officer had followed SN for some distance and the speed was estimated, clocked, and lidar checked. These two infractions would put SN into the 12 surchargeable event range and he would lose his license for 4 years. SN drove for a living, which is part of the reason he accumulated so many tickets. SN retained Attorney Robert Lewin. On September 20, 2011 SN and Attorney Lewin appeared at Lawrence District Court for the hearing before the Clerk-Magistrate. At the beginning of the hearing the police prosecutor (a Massachusetts State Trooper) quite inappropriately referred to SN’s driver record and stated to the Clerk that SN had a terrible record and that SN had just not learned. The prosecutor then stated that he did not have a copy of the citation. Attorney Lewin immediately asked that SN be found not responsible and the Clerk-Magistrate agreed and entered a finding of not responsible on the two violations on the ticket. At a hearing on a civil motor vehicle infraction citation the police must have a copy of the citation or report in order to go forward. In the absence of a citation or report the motorist is entitled to a finding of not responsible. The whole hearing played out in less than a minute and SN had no clue what happened until he and Attorney Lewin got outside the hearing room and left the Court and Attorney Lewin explained his good fortune.