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Operating to Endanger Charges

Operating to endanger in Massachusetts is serious offense. Under the law of the Commonwealth, operating to endanger is defined by three elements:

  • Operating a motor vehicle
  • On a public road or freeway
  • While driving in such a way that it endangers anyone, including the driver

The judge or jury can use these three factors and others to determine if you are guilty of operating to endanger. You may be found guilty of this crime regardless of whether there was an accident, and regardless if people were injured or not.

The legal question that is at issue is whether your operation of the vehicle at the time created any potential danger for anyone who may have been on the street at the time.

Also, if an accident did occur, the accident itself is not enough to find you guilty of operating to endanger. If there is evidence that the other driver’s negligence was a factor, this can be considered by the judge or jury to determine if you were operating to endanger yourself.

You can be cited for operating to endanger for several reasons, many of them having to do with speeding:

  • Driving too fast
  • Not paying attention
  • Not wearing a seat belt
  • Distractions, such as cell phone or radio
  • Poor defensive driving
  • Improper assumptions about other drivers
  • Tailgating
  • Driving while tired or upset
  • Failing to check your blind spot
  • Failing to give enough time to merge

Overall, Massachusetts law states that the person is operating to endanger if he or she acts in a way that a ‘reasonable person’ would not. This can occur with any action or lack of action that a reasonable person would do or not do.

If by acting in such a manner, or failing to act in such a manner, you create a danger that is unnecessary to another person, you can be found guilty. There need not have been an accident to convict you of the offense.

Many factors will be evaluated regarding your conduct to determine if the charge is appropriate. These include how fast you were driving; the condition of your car; the time of the day; the type of road; weather; and the conduct of anyone else in the area.

Note that operating to endanger can occur even if no one else is on the street. If you were intoxicated, this also will play a significant factor; it is likely that you will get the operating to endanger charge attached to the drunk driving charge.

Potential Consequences

One of the problems with operating to endanger is that a great deal of discretion is given to the police officer on the scene. This crime is mostly subjective and up to the police officer, so it is very important for you to secure an excellent attorney to fight this charge.

Another problem with operating to endanger can lead to a suspension of your driver’s license and severe financial penalties. Operating to endanger can in severe cases lead to 60 days to two years of jail time. If you are found guilty of a second offense, you will receive a mandatory sentence of 60 days in jail and a loss of your driver’s license for two years. Again, a top criminal attorney is needed in this situation to avoid jail time.

Also, if you are a business owner or an executive, you should know that you can have your ability to rent a car revoked, so this can make keeping your job very difficult. Overall, it is of utmost importance that you hire an experienced speeding or operating to endanger attorney to give you the best chance to beat the charge.

Hearing for Operating to Endanger

A common question is whether you will get a clerk magistrate hearing for an operating to endanger charge. It depends on the situation. If another party called the police and the police did not actually witness your actions, you would get a hearing.

If there was an accident, the police investigation also could trigger a hearing. If the police saw your actions and determined that a criminal complaint should be issued, then you may not get a hearing.

Also, if you are given a written citation, you can request the hearing yourself  by checking the appropriate box and mailing it in. You will need to mail it in within four days to get the hearing.

If you do have a hearing, you will want to have an experienced attorney representing you.

Defense Strategies

The goal of a good defense attorney is to get the whole case dismissed or voided due to a lack of evidence. Naturally, beating the case at the clerk’s hearing is the best possible outcome. It is possible to prevail in these hearings even if you may have been guilty.

If a dismissal is impossible in your case, a good attorney can fight the case at trial. Or, he can negotiate for a Continuance Without a Finding to avoid the guilty conviction on your record.

Driving to endanger or negligent operation is often part of an OUI or DUI charge. Poor driving is often the reason that the police pulled you over, and then you are charged with OUI. Your attorney may be able to get a plea deal for you on the drunk driving charge. If the operating to endanger charge is attached, the penalties often run concurrently. So, there is no additional probation or punishment.

Beat Operating to Endanger Charges with Attorney Geoffrey Nathan

Attorney Geoffrey G. Nathan and his practice group are some of  the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ top legal experts in beating speeding charges, operating to endanger, and other traffic offenses. If you have a speeding ticket, had your driver’s license suspended, or have any other serious traffic charge, including operating to endanger, contact Attorney Nathan’s team now. They can win your case.

Nathan’s practice group includes former judges, former law enforcement officials, MA legislators, and retired assistant district attorneys. They have the decades of experience and track record that you need to beat your traffic charge.