Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle is a separate criminal charge from an OUI (Operating Under the Influence) but is fairly routinely charged at the same time as part of the same incident as an OUI offense in Massachusetts.
So while it is technically another criminal charge, it isn’t something you should be too concerned with. We regularly get the additional charge resolved with no additional criminal penalties from the OUI.
What is Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle?
Negligent operation is basically reckless driving. The statute says that if you operated negligently “so as to endanger the lives and safety of the public”, the charge applies under MGL Ch90 Sec 24. “Operating to Endanger” is basically the same thing.
If you were in an accident and were arrested for OUI, you almost always get this charge since they presume you caused the accident.
If the reason you were initially pulled over by the police was for alleged swerving, driving too closely to another car, or any erratic or dangerous driving, then you were likely charged with negligent operation as well.
Why You Shouldn’t Worry About a Negligent Operation Charge with an OUI
The negligent operation or operating to endanger charge is essentially secondary to the drunk driving offense. The fact that you were allegedly drunk is the primary cause of whatever dangerous or poor driving you are accused of.
So while they are both misdemeanor criminal offenses, the OUI is the charge that prosecutors and judges are really concerned about.
When we work out a deal for CWOF on an OUI (the minimum penalty allowed by law for an OUI charge), we can almost always get the negligent operation offense included with no additional penalty. We can often get the negligent operation charge dismissed completely (so it doesn’t add those extra points to your insurance). If not, we can get any license suspension to be served concurrently, so there is no effective extra penalty.
There may be rare exceptions when there is a very serious accident and the judge wants to charge you for that as well, but these are exceptions.
What if I Wasn’t Drunk, But Just Driving Badly?
We’ve defended a bunch of these cases, too. We have had clients accused of being drunk or high on drugs that weren’t legally impaired. Or at least not in a way that was provable. For example, some prescription drugs, medication or medical condition might impair your driving, but doesn’t count as an OUI under the law.
But there maybe there was an accident or some pretty bad driving that we can’t explain way or credibly claim didn’t happen.
In those cases, we are often willing to work out a deal or plead guilty to the negligent operation in exchange for a dismissal on the OUI charge. Without a drunk driving conviction, you don’t have the stigma of that charge, or the need to complete an alcohol or drug education class as part of the negotiated settlement, so we would definitely consider that a win in court.
Give Us a Call to Discuss Your Situation
We’ve represented hundreds and hundreds of clients with OUI and negligent operation charges together in every single district court in Massachusetts. So there is almost nothing we haven’t heard before or worked around.
We can absolutely help defend you and protect your rights in court, either by fighting the charges, or working our a very favorable deal for you.
Your legal problem is understandably complicated to you, but it’s routine to us. Let us explain what we can do. Call us today to find out exactly how we can help you in your exact circumstances.