Getting a ticket can ruin even the best of days, but at least American motorists have the ability to fight moving violations in court. Challenging a ticket at least gives drivers a shot at avoiding or reducing fines and/or points charged to their records.

In Massachusetts, however, a new state Supreme Court ruling means drivers have to pay, win or lose. The Newspaper details the case of Ralph Sullivan, who was charged $70 in non-refundable fees even after he successfully fought a lane violation ticket ($20 for appealing the summons to a clerk, then another $50 to get the case in front of a district court judge). Sullivan argued to the Massachusetts Supreme Court that the policy violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, as motorists are saddled with fees that offenders in more serious cases are not required to pay. The court disagreed and ruled against Sullivan.

In the ruling, Justice Ralph D. Gants writes, "Where the legislature provides greater process that imposes greater demands on the resources of the District Court, it is rational for the legislature to impose filing fees, waivable where a litigant is indigent, to offset part of the additional cost of these judicial proceedings."

Yeah, we get it. The courts are busy and they're expensive to run, so the $3,678,620 Massachusetts courts received as a result of fines in 2010 is needed to keep the doors open. We're of the opinion that anyone found not guilty should never have been pulled over in the first place, so the fine is levied as punishment for no crime committed. Isn't wasting half a day in court punishment enough?


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  • 137 Comments
      Randy
      • 3 Years Ago
      Here's an idea! Whenever someone wins in court and then has to pay fees and such, sue the police department for the fees, plus damages including time off work, hiring a sitter, undue stress from taking a day off work and wondering if the boss is going to fire ya and so on. We'll see how fast the rules become fair! If that doesn't work, sue the officer and the department for sexual harassment like Ed Norton / Tyler Durden suggested he'd do to his boss in Fight Club. Sounds crazy but one would only be helping the court be the mockery of Justice that it is in this instance. Only faster!
        emperor koku
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Randy
        You know, they have punishments for frivolous lawsuits.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @emperor koku
          [blocked]
          Randy
          • 3 Years Ago
          @emperor koku
          And there should be punishment for injustices!
        wiggy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Randy
        But that's a TON of extra work! Who wants (not to mention, who actually has time) to go through all that?! Sure, it might help drive the point home, but, as they say, the only winners in that sort of case are the lawyers.
      Julius
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hmm.. I would have thought that "mandatory court fees" would have been illegal in what is functionally a criminal case... I mean, it's supposed to be "innocent until proven guilty" - not "guilty even when proven innocent".
        NissanGTR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Julius
        from what I see its guilty until proven less guilty.
        Justin Campanale
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Julius
        In regular court, you are innocent till proven guilty. In traffic court, you are guilty till proven innocent.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      IchiroA
      • 3 Years Ago
      Another reason why I can't wait to get the F out of this stupid state.
      Deslock
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is an abuse and it should be overturned. Just like how NYC should not be able to set the distance you can park from a fire hydrant to 15 ft on each side without marking it (they intentionally don't paint the curb or post signs so that they can ticket tourists who unknowingly break the law by parking as much as 14 ft away). Or how various places around the country have artificially low speed limits setup so they can generate revenue through tickets. It's all corruption.
      Hubb
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sure, there are court costs incurred that have to be paid somehow. Maybe the officer who writes the false ticket should be the one to pay out of their pocket. We'll see how many BS tickets are written then.
      Edro257
      • 3 Years Ago
      I live in Mass and this is just bull. The way it should work is if your found guilty you pay, if your not you don't. and if the state really needs that money(which it doesn't) take it from the cop that is wasting not only the states time and resourses but the alleged offernder's time and resourses, by giving out undeserved tickets.
      BRKF06
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bad law. Bad ruling.
      grandpa
      • 3 Years Ago
      All local government entities are out to increase revenues in anyway possible. I recently spent about $600. in legal fees to convince the City of Oakland, Ca. that I did not owe them $61 dollars for a parking ticket issued in 2007. A ticket I did not receive till 2010, for a car I had not owned since 2001. Oakland would not even accept a written letter from the Ca. DMV stating my non-ownership at the time of the supposed violation. It took 6 months and a letter from the Cal. State Attorney General to convince them. Talk about frustration!
      John
      • 3 Years Ago
      Seems to me if the person is found innocent of the violation, then the officer who made the stop should be required to pay the fees. Simple enough. If the court cannot see the justice in this, then I would sue the officer and his department for loss of wages, as well as the fees, in small claims court, since I had to take time off from work to defend myself.
      Chris Timberlake
      • 3 Years Ago
      I oh! I oh! Off to the Federal Supreme Court we go! It should not be legal for a person to have to pay if they're innocent. Whether it be administrative fees or not. The court ****** up, or the officer in this case. It was not the driver's mistake. So the driver shouldn't have to pay a dime. Upon being proven guilty the fees should be charged, not upon filing to have the case heard before a judge. It is the state as the plaintiff that has the burden of proof they need to show in order to convict and charge a person. Even if it is a ticket. Once a conviction is placed, THEN fees can be accessed. If the person is found not guilty the state should eat the fees. Maybe then we wont get such BS Arrests, and BS Tickets.
        Hartwig
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Chris Timberlake
        I would hope this would make it to the supreme court. It seems like it leaves a big fee generating loophole out there. Give anyone a ticket and even if they fight it they still pay. Once this is proven unconstitutional i hope that the driver also recovers any legal costs associated with this.
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      The American traffic court is, contrary to popular belief, not there to protect people. Its primary purpose is to make money.
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