Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle

The law in Massachusetts criminalizes the operation of a motor vehicle in a negligent manner that might endanger the public.

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 24(2)(a) punishes violators of the crime of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle with imprisonment of not less than 2 weeks up and up to 2 years in the House of Corrections.

In order to be found guilty of the crime of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, the prosecutor is required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. That the defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. That he did so on a public way or in a place where the public has a right of access; and
  3. That he did so in a negligent manner so that the lives or safety of the public might have been endangered.
For the purpose of the crime of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, a person acts negligently if he fails to use due care, or when he acts in a way that a reasonable person would not act.  A person drives negligently if he drove in a way that a reasonable person would not have, and by doing so created an unnecessary danger to other people that he could have avoided by driving more carefully.

Notably, a person can be found to have driven negligently even if no accident resulted, and even if there was no one else on the road at the time to be put in danger.  The crime of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle seeks to punish someone if he drives in a way that has the potential to cause an accident or to endanger anyone who might be on the road.  Conversely, even if there was an accident, that is not, in and of itself, evidence that the defendant drove in a negligent manner.

Juries are often asked to consider a number of factors in determining whether someone actually drove in a negligent manner, including:
  • Rate of speed;
  • Manner of operation;
  • Defendant's physical condition and how well he could see and control his vehicle;
  • Condition of the vehicle;
  • Type of road;
  • Whether anyone else was on the road;
  • Time of day and weather conditions; and
  • What any other vehicles or pedestrians were doing at the time.
Additionally, a defendant charged with the crime of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle is not necessarily excused even if there is evidence that the other driver was intoxicated.  In this context, juries are asked to determine what role that other driver's negligence or intoxication played.  If, however, the other driver's negligence or intoxication was the sole cause of what happened and that the defendant was not negligent, the defendant must be found not guilty.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in defending persons charged with the crime of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, as well as other Motor Vehicle Offenses.

To schedule a Free Consultation and to discuss your criminal case with Attorney Lefteris K. Travayiakis, Contact Us Online or call 617-325-9500.