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Road Law
Mass confusion

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is similar to a lot of states that have a centralized collections agency to handle the processing of fine payments.

Unfortunately for the uninitiated, there are several pitfalls that could jeopardize your driving record and ability to obtain a court hearing.

Here are the questions:

Q. I recently received a citation in Worcester, MA, but the ticket says to contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Boston. Shouldn’t my case be heard in Worcester?

A. Yes, but only if you follow the proper procedure. If you have a civil motor vehicle citation, then odds are that it is returnable to the RMV. The RMV is designed to accept fine payments or to send your case to the appropriate court for a hearing.

Sounds simple enough, right? Not quite. If you want a hearing, you must request one from the RMV and wait to be notified that your request has been received. Once you receive the notice, it will have instructions as to how to pay the court filing fee. Yes, you have to pay a fee to the RMV to have your case set for a hearing. Once the fee is received, the RMV will then send your case to the appropriate court and you will receive a hearing notice in the mail with the date and time of your hearing.

Q. I recently received a suspension notice from my licensing state for a violation that I paid in Massachusetts. Can you help me not be suspended?

A. Maybe. The first question is whether you paid the violation at the RMV or if you requested a hearing and ended up paying the fine and costs to a court.

If you paid the fine to the RMV, you waived your right to a hearing on the merits of your case. Unfortunately, you are left with no options with the RMV. We are not aware of any remedy at this point in time that would allow you to have the matter reset.

If you jumped through all of the hoops at the RMV and your case was assigned to a court, then you may be in luck. Depending on the court, it may be possible to file a motion with the court to vacate your guilty plea and reset your case for a possible different outcome.

Many factors influence the success of such an endeavor, but at least you have the option to attempt it.

Q. What do I need to know if I have an RMV violation?

A. Let us summarize a few key points:

  1. If you think you will ever change your mind or might find out later that you paid the wrong kind of violation, then you never want to just pay your citation to the RMV.
  2. If you want a hearing, be sure to request one in a timely fashion and be sure to contact the RMV to pay the court filing fee once they get in contact with you.
  3. Once you have a court date, be sure to make arrangements to appear at the appropriate place and time.
  4. Of course, if you don’t want to jump through all of the hoops and red tape, find an attorney familiar with the RMV process who can see the matter through to its conclusion. LL

Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; call 405-242-2030, fax 888-588-8983, or email

This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone's legal situation is different. Consult with an attorney for specific advice on your situation.