A driver of a motor vehicle is criminally liable for his or her actions and conduct while on the road. Under Massachusetts criminal law, the crime of Operating Negligently so as to Endanger may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90, Section 24(2)(a). This offense is most often referred to as negligent operation or negligent operation of a motor vehicle. In Massachusetts, the police most often charge this particular offense whenever charging and arresting a motorist with an Operating Under the Influence (OUI) offense.
This is because negligent operation is easier to prove than OUI. The theory behind charging both offenses is that if defendant elects to proceed to trial, if he successfully obtains an acquittal or not guilty verdict on the OUI charge, he still faces the possibility of a conviction for negligent operation.
Legal Elements of Operating so as to Endanger
In order to be convicted of Operating Negligently so as to Endanger, there must exist strong evidence of the following legal elements:
- that the defendant operated a motor vehicle;
- that the defendant operated the motor vehicle on a way or in a place where the public has a right of access; and
- the defendant did so in a negligent manner so that the lives and safety of the public might have been endangered
A person acts negligently when he fails to use due care, that is, when he acts in a way that a reasonable person would not act. This can happen either by doing something that a reasonably prudent person would not do under those circumstances, or by failing to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do.
The defendant acted negligently if he or she drove in a way that a reasonable person would not have, and by doing so created an unnecessary danger to other people, a danger that he or she could have avoided by driving more carefully.
Potential Punishment if Convicted of Operating so as to Endanger in Massachusetts
The potential consequences for Operating Negligently so as to Endanger, if convicted, in the Commonwealth may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90, Section 24(2)(a).
A defendant convicted of Operating Negligently so as to Endanger shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 2 weeks nor more than 2 years.
If you have been charged with Operating Negligently so as to Endanger call (508) 213-9113 to schedule a free consultation with experienced Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorneys of the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III, and learn the best way to proceed with your case.