Do I need an attorney for a Clerk Magistrate Hearing in Massachusetts?

I live in NH. I drive to MA a couple days a month where I volunteer for an inner-city youth group. My car is registered in NH but is uninsured as it is not needed in NH. I did not know insurance was needed to drive in MA and it is a criminal offense. At 9:45pm, I struck a kid that ran in front of my car after being chased by his friends. Kid all in black and all lights on block burned out. Have pics of everything. I had a witness in my car and there was no way to avoid him. My citation only says that I was driving uninsured. Have to go to Clerk Magistrate hearing. Is a lawyer needed?

Asked on July 1, 2009 under Accident Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

L.M., Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, claiming to not know about insurance in Massachusetts is not an excuse for not having it while you’re here visiting. Even a nonresident may be required to register and/or insure a motor vehicle or trailer in Massachusetts under several conditions, and here are the most important ones for your situation:

-- If your primary residence is in another state, you may not operate motor vehicles or trailers in Massachusetts for more than 30 total days in one year unless you have liability insurance.

-- You must register in Massachusetts any motor vehicle or trailer used for your Massachusetts business. If you use several vehicles in Massachusetts and in one or more other states, you must register the average number of vehicles you use in Massachusetts.

 

The good news with regard to insurance is that if you truly are only in Massachusetts a couple of days a month, totaling 24 days a year, you do not reach the thresshold of 30 days required above.  I don't think you need an attorney. Just be aware of the law and tell your story.  I hope the kid you hit is ok.  You may not have been required to have insurance, but it is always a good idea to protect yourself from potential liability.  If you are sued, you will be financially liable for this child's injuries.


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