Repeal The Massachusetts Junior Operator Bill
What happens when safety oversteps liberties? This is what has been going on in Massachusetts for some time now. The Junior Operator License bill, introduced in 2007 is unfair to young adults, and is also in violation of the 8th amendment of the United States of America as well as Article XXVI in the Massachusetts Constitution.
Firstly, I implore you look at the current fines for minor traffic offenses.
The fine for a speeding offense is awe inspiring. To start, the SCARR class (The State Courts Against Road Rage) is mandated. The cost of this program? $75. In addition, the driver must also take a Driver Attitudinal Retraining Course. This also costs $75. Seeing as the fines are not scaled for the severity of the offense, theserequirementsmust be met whether the driver wasdoing one mile an hour over or thirty.Admittedly two extreme situations, but the point remains true. There is no difference in the eyes of the law between traveling at a drastically unsafe speed, or barely ticking over the limit. In the adult system this is not the case. Fines are a flat $100 for the first ten miles per hour over, and are $10 for each additional mile per hour. This system penalizes for more severe crimes, which is how the legal system should operate.
Unfortunately, for young drivers, this is not the case. Due to preconceived notions that teens are reckless, our legal system slams young kids with unreasonable fines. On top of the two classes and the $75 fee for each, there is a flat fine paid to the state for $500. For teenagers with out college degrees and the vast majority making minimum wage, this is more money than one could reasonably expected to pay. If the parents are forced to pay, this is money that will leave the college fund for aspiring young adults. The cost of college is rising dramatically, and each dollar taken away is truly devastating.
After the class and fine is taken care of, one must now retest for their license. The cost to schedule a road test is $35, just recently raised from $20. Obtaining a road test time is an experience in its self. Through delays, road tests can not be easily obtained. It can take upwards of a month to schedule and take a test.
The total cost of speeding ten miles per hour (first offense) over as a junior operator in Massachusetts
+ $35 test fee
+ $150 class fee (SCARR and DriverAttitudinalRetraining Course)
+ $100 speeding ticket
The total cost of speeding ten miles per hour (first offense) over as a legal adult in Massachusetts
$100 speeding ticket
The difference between the two offenses is awhopping $685! The reason for this difference? Solely age. It isnotdue to being new drivers. People who are new drivers and are over the age of 18 do not follow these rules. In addition, there is no significant drop off in injury, death, or hospitable stay rates from the 16-17 age group to the 18-20 year old age as shown by the Massachusetts RMV website;
The so called "deterrent" effect of the law is clearly negligible. Therefore the law is intended to be punitive.There is a major issue for this however. Exuberant fines are unconstitutional under the 8th amendment;
"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."
A $785 ticket for speeding would fall under the "excessive fine imposed" portion of the amendment. It is beyond reasonable to expect a minor infraction to cost the outlandish price of $785.
Furthermore, not only does it violate our federal constitution, but also our state constitution as well. Under the Part The First portion of the document, Article XXVI states;
“No magistrate or court of law, shall demand excessive bail or sureties, impose excessive fines, or inflict cruel or unusual punishments.”
The blatant disregard for the law is appalling. Clearly the current law in place is discriminatory towards young drivers, who despite their age still possess unalienable rights; written down and agreed upon by our representatives. The constitution is not to be used selectively. Over 239 years, Americans have figured out, through grave trials and tribulations, that our rights are endowed upon us, and when interfered with should be fought for. While some battles are more important and significant than others, all have the right to be heard and treated as equals in front of the law.