Available 24/7 Free Consultations
(617) 513-9444
Available 24/7 Free Consultations
(617) 513-9444
Request Free Consultation

What Is the No-Fix Law in Massachusetts?

Posted on February 28, 2022 in

Ticket-fixing refers to a law enforcement officer changing or manipulating a pending traffic ticket after the fact. An officer may tamper with a citation for a motor vehicle violation to change details or otherwise “fix” it to increase the probability of the ticket sticking – either as a personal favor to someone or out of retaliation or harassment. Massachusetts’ solution to this problem is the No-Fix Law, which requires officers to either make an arrest or issue a citation for a moving violation immediately.

How Does the No-Fix Law Work?

The No-Fix Law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90C, Section 2, states that any police officer assigned to traffic enforcement duty must record a violation upon a citation, fill out the citation and each copy as soon and completely as possible, inform the violator of the offense, and give the violator a copy of the citation without delay. Failure to give a copy of the citation to the violator at the time and place of the offense gives a violator the right to use this as a reason to have the case dismissed.

The purpose of the No-Fix Law is to prevent a law enforcement officer from modifying or altering a traffic violation citation later with false information for any reason, personal or otherwise. It prevents the police from tampering with the ticket after the fact. As the form of a defense in Massachusetts, the No-Fix Law can provide powerful evidence that the citation is invalid. Proof that the officer did not issue the citation immediately can be enough to have the case dropped, even without further evidence that the officer was harassing or discriminating against the violator by tampering with the ticket.

In Massachusetts, the No-Fix Law applies to most moving and traffic violations, such as speeding and red-light running. It also applies to operating under the influence (OUI) offenses. If a driver is arrested for OUI, the citation generally must be issued immediately under the No-Fix Law. If the citation is not given right away at the time and location of the violation, this can be a defense against the charges – even if there is evidence of drunk driving or the driver had a history of multiple OUI citations. However, there are exceptions to the No-Fix Law.

What Are Exceptions to the No-Fix Law?

The No-Fix Law serves to protect citizens of Massachusetts from police tampering with moving violations. There are limited scenarios, however, where a law enforcement officer or traffic control authority is not legally obligated to issue a citation for a traffic violation immediately. Exceptions to the rule include:

  • An arrest for a criminal traffic offense
  • A motor vehicle violation that causes any fatalities
  • When additional time to investigate is reasonably necessary
  • When the identity of the violator is not yet known
  • If the courts find that the circumstances are not consistent with the purpose of the statute

Even if an exception applies, the police typically must mail or deliver the citation to you as quickly as possible to satisfy the No-Fix Law. The officer may need to justify the delay to make it excusable under the law. If you are not sure whether the No-Fix Law applies to your recent moving violation in Massachusetts, a Middlesex County motor vehicle crimes defense attorney can review the situation and advise you moving forward.

Using the No-Fix Law as a Defense

At Spring & Spring, our criminal defense attorneys can quickly determine whether the No-Fix Law is available as a legal defense for your particular case. If so, we can help you use it to argue for the dismissal of the ticket or charges against you in Middlesex County. This includes a case against you for operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For more information about the No-Fix Law and related defenses, contact us to request a free consultation.