Many Mass. Police Units Ignore Voided Ticket Law


An ex-Boston Bruins player is cited for speeding. A teenage girl is caught going 51 miles per hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone. A teen is stopped with an open beer can in her car. All three got tickets but all were voided, reports the Boston Globe. Since 1962, Massachusetts has had a “no fix” law to discourage corruption making police officers account for every traffic ticket, even the voided ones. But a Boston Globe review of records of thousands of traffic violations indicates that the system is ignored by most police departments and not enforced by the state.

About 20,000 traffic citations are voided or disappear from the system every year, but there is no evidence that tickets are being fixed for corrupt reasons. There is little effort by state officials or police chiefs to ensure that the system is honest and accountable. The officer who voided the For example, the officer in Randolph did not account in the record on file for why he voided the teen’s speeding tickets said he was persuaded by a tearful phone call from her mother; he also said he did not know that she has a relative on the police force. The teen with a $535 ticket for driving with an open beer can got a break when a court officer insisted that the can had to be at least one-third full. The officer who let the hockey player go says he didn’t want to detain the driver any longer to correct a typo on the $180 speeding ticket.

The law requires each police chief to return audit sheets to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, listing every citation — which were written out, voided, destroyed, or lost. All voided citations are supposed to be returned to the Registry and explained. In practice, most of the state’s police departments provide only a sketchy accounting. The Registry carefully stores the audit sheets in a warehouse but never looks at them. A Globe tally of the most recent two months of mail at the warehouse found that more than half of police departments were not complying with the law’s requirement to return the audit sheets as soon as each ticket book is complete. Many small jurisdictions appear to follow the rules, while many of the largest, such as Boston, do not. “We don’t send those in anymore,” said Mariellen Burns, spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department. “I know that’s not a good answer, but it’s the truth.” With so few departments fully complying with the law, some of those that do wonder why they bother.


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