Question: "Pass on right" scooter law and State Police

I'm in a bit of a quandary. MGL 90-1b states in part that all moped drivers:

...shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the regulations contained in this section, except that: (1) the motorized bicycle operator may keep to the right when passing a motor vehicle which is moving in the travel lane of the way...

On my commute home today on my scooter, I was on Longwood Ave. heading from the Longwood Medical Area towards Coolidge Corner. Traffic was extremely heavy and part of that reason was the light at the intersection of Longwood and Chapel St had gone to a blinking yellow for Longwood (red for Chapel). State Police officers were stationed at Longwood and Brookline, Longwood and Riverway, and Longwood and Chapel St. I was behind a vehicle at the blinking yellow when he stopped to avoid blocking the intersection because traffic was backed up from Kent St for the entire block. I pulled out to the right of the car in front of me and passed him to enter the intersection safely. The trooper was off to the side talking to someone near the crosswalk. As I approached his parked empty vehicle on the far side of the intersection and the car in the lane on my left, he yelled "don't pass on the right" and then "you, on the scooter", then finally "sir, stop". I was already in the process of stopping since I needed to go slowly between the moving vehicles and his parked vehicle and so I just stopped at the back left corner of his car.

He began to berate me for passing on the right and trying to pass more cars on the right. He told me I was the same as a motorcycle. I waited until he had stopped and asked me if I understood. I told him no because I was under 50cc and not considered a motorcycle. I was completely respectful the entire time I was stopped there. But any time I spoke up or did not agree with what he was saying he would just repeat, "Are you listening to me?" I would say yes and he would repeat himself and add new reasons for no passing on the right: "you make no noise on that thing", "I don't want to clean you up off the road", "at least you're wearing your helmet", "what if someone opened their door", and on. He asked if I acknowledged there to only be 1 lane of traffic at our location. I did. If I said anything to contrast his reality of my illegality to pass on the right, he ignored it and reiterated his "Are you listening" mantra at me.

I waited again and when he explained that I was getting a verbal warning for passing on the right, did I understand; I again said no, because I am forced to carry a copy of the moped (something he continually misclassified and ignored) law as a half page on the bottom of my required state registration. I offered to retrieve this from my glove box and have him read it or have me point to the relevant part (above) that explains my right to pass on the right of the travel lane. I did not accept that he would stop me for something legal simply because he did not know the relevant law. I felt that the principle of it was that I knew the law and that I would not accept his incorrect statement of it said at me as if I had done something wrong.

He then took my license and began to explain that now I'd be getting a citation. I told him that for my own edification I would be getting the registration out and reading aloud, to myself since he didn't want to listen, the relevant passage. I read it and he responded by asking if he had asked me to pull out any paperwork. I said no, this was on my own volition and for me to read. He then went back to his car with my license. He came forward again and requested my title (not my registration? who asks for the title? who even carries their title around...I just happened to have it since it's also my receipt of purchase).

When he finally came back to me, he told me the citation was NOT for passing on the right. He told me to look a block away at Kent St where there was a piece of construction equipment parked on the shoulder. He said I was in a construction zone (bullshit). He said that I did not comply with a lawful order when I didn't stop immediately when he requested (bullshit, I got no further than the intersection where he was located and it wasn't until his third yell when he asked me to stop when I had already paused to begin passing his car and stopped behind his vehicle's left corner). Nevermind that when I looked at the ticket he quoted me in violation of "90-1b moped traffic violation" and the description says "passed 3 vehicles on the right, asked to stop and continued, construction zone on right shoulder" (so he lied again when he said it wasn't for passing on the right, since that *is* one of his 3 complaints against the moped law on me for the traffic stop).

He told me I could leave but to obey state law, obey state troopers, and don't pass on the right. I got off my scooter and walked back towards the intersection behind him as I took a picture of where he was standing (not in the intersection), a picture of where I stopped initially (behind his vehicle), and a picture of the distance to the actual construction equipment (an entire block away). The whole time he is yelling things like "make sure you get a picture of my good side" and "make sure that's a good picture". I asked him to be sure to appear on the court date, please. He reiterated his line about "20 days to pay or 20 days to appeal" a few times as I walked back to my scooter to leave.

So here I sit now. The ticket is as the law says "$25 for first offense". My quandary is whether it is worth my time and effort to continue standing on principle and get my day in court to argue this ticket. He was completely wrong to stop me for a legal maneuver. He finally found that out when I read the law aloud at him, for my own edification. He then trumped up the charge to claim that I ignored him and did so in a construction zone.

While the "passed 3 vehicles" complaint is going to be easy to have dismissed and the pictures will likely show that there are no construction zone signs and that the work is at Kent St and not Chapel St where I was stopped, I am most concerned about the third complaint about ignoring him.

I know I didn't ignore him. If I wanted to ignore him, I would have just kept going up the right side past his vehicle and made him have to decide to jump in his cruiser to get me. I didn't. I stopped as I was slowing when he finally told me to stop. I did so out of the intersection and he approached me from my right (not my left as he would have if he had actually *been* directing traffic in the intersection). But that is all he-said/cop-said...which is not likely to convince a magistrate of my innocence (aka non-responsibility in traffic court). Should I "fight the power" and stand by what I know to be right or acquiesce this once and fill the coffers with my $25 to just make this go away? I'm seriously annoyed by the fact that cop would not accept that he could be wrong when I informed him that I could easily access the appropriate law because of the state *requiring* me to carry it on my scooter at all times because it's a part of my registration papers! In no way would he accept reason and logic and for that reason alone I feel I should make him show up in court (if he doesn't just send some desk cop to read the back of the ticket in court) to learn the actual law. What do I do? I'm just not sure how I can win by saying I obeyed the officer when he's just going to say that I didn't.

I may still contact the State Police to make sure they correct this for their troopers so that others aren't stopped incorrectly and have to deal with the same single-minded approach to enforcing fake laws on other scooter owners. This is going to keep coming up more often as mopeds/scooters become used more in response to gas prices and traffic congestion. I feel the least I can do even if I just pay the ticket is to make it clear to the State Police that they screwed up and hope that it doesn't happen again.

I'm open to anyone else's thoughts on this. I know it's pretty long-winded but I wanted to get it all out there in the open for people to understand the full situation.



    Free tagging: 



    - I never knew it was not only "not illegal", but explicitly permitted, for mopeds to pass on the right. I assumed they were being Massholes. I think this means I need to stop swerving around imaginary potholes to block them, huh?

    - You seem to know a bit about traffic court and the like. Do you have a copy of the National Motorists Association ticket-fighting package? An awful lot of it is, well, similar to the Montana contingent's "they never properly approved amendment 14, and taxes are illegal, and the flag's upside down" stuff, but some of it can give you good ideas for court.

    - It's a little late now, but I'd have avoided reminding the officer to show up in court. Not that he wouldn't anyway, of course - but why give him the opportunity to remember this incident in detail? The law is stacked against you in traffic court; the ticket itself is considered evidence that you did whatever the ticket says you did, and it's not a criminal offense - I think the standard is preponderance of evidence.

    Do you really want to fight this? Knowing you only from Universal Hub... probably. It's the principle! Cops aren't above the law! We have nothing better to do! Oops, I'm projecting again.

    Personally, I fought a speeding ticket a few years ago, even knowing I was completely in the wrong, because it's good practice. (I lost, but I was right; it IS good practice. For example, next time, I will not be dumb enough to ask to enter the ticket into evidence when the cop forgets to do so, and when even the judge asks incredulously, "Are you sure you want to do that?")

    Assuming you do - and clearly, IANAL:

    - You should subpoena the officer's notes. There are instructions in the NMA book.

    - You already know about the magistrate vs. court deal, so you probably also know that you should just expect to lose with the magistrate, and have to appeal. Save your energy for the courtroom.

    - When you get to court, there's apparently a first session and a second session (or at least there was in Gardener). First session is where they deal with all the cut-and-dry stuff. I don't know the procedure, but apparently, it's expected that you move to adjourn your hearing until the second session if you're going to actually enter evidence, cross-examine the officer, make objections, etc. If you don't, everybody will grumble at you.

    - Not that your copy of the law isn't handy, but it'd be good to request an official written copy from the state, or (if you can get away with it) the police. Then you get to do things like "Officer, is this the state law? Could you read section 90-1b, please? Could you now read the citation you issued?" etc.

    - Go watch the first season of Law and Order. I'm not saying you should get any legal strategies from it; it's a John Wells show, for crying out loud. It's just fun to watch, and the first season was the best. I may be off topic here.

    whoa whoa whoa

    hold on here....

    you quote a law for motorized bicycles, not mopeds, which have different laws and regulations. A motorized bike does not need to be registered and can be used as a bike. If your bike was regisitered (like you said), then I believe you have a moped, which is not from the law which you quoted....

    Motorized Bikes *are* mopeds

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    The commonwealth defines "moped" as a synonym for "motorized bicycle". While that is not explicit in the MGL, it's very clearly established in the RMV Motorized Bicycle (Moped) Registration Form (pdf). A bicycle with a pedal motor *does* need to be registered and the registration needs to be carried by the operator (all delineated on the registration form). A bicycle with a pedal motor and my scooter are equivalents by law.

    You broke the cardinal rule.

    By on

    The cardinal rule of dealing with cops: Never Argue. Trying to prove a cop wrong when you're not in a court of law just leads to a pissing match that you are pretty much guaranteed to lose.

    Is it worth your time to fight the ticket? I guess that's a question you'll have to answer. It sounds like, yes, that's a trumped-up citation, but if you take it to court, it turns into your word versus the cop's word---and that automatically puts you at a disadvantage. However, trying to get the ticket taken off your record could be worth the hassle---not due to the $25 fine, but due to the fact that the ticket may raise your insurance rates (I assume). Do you have the time to spend on the project? Up to you.

    For future reference: When you get a verbal warning, just smile and nod. "Thanks Officer Friendly, for pointing out the dangerous error of my ways." It'll save you lot of hassle.

    Law meets power

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    Legally, you are in the right. In terms of power, you lost the minute you opened your mouth.

    You might be able to get the charges dismissed, but the fact is that your costs are already greater than the $25.00 fine. That's just a token. The real cost is the inconvenience and the record. The point of him giving you a ticket was not to be sure the law is upheld - he already knows you didn't violate any laws - but to inconvenience you, as an exercise and demonstration of his greater power. A bullshit ticket is the cop's way of saying "fuck you."

    Perhaps you're right, and there's value here as a learning exercise. If so, perhaps you can learn something else besides how courts work: in an interaction with a cop there is always more than one game going on. In addition to the legal game, there's the power game. And in the direct situation, the cop can change the rules of either one. You argue the legal game, the cop can always rely on the power game, and vice versa. You really can't win. As such, your best strategy is always to roll right on over and show your belly.

    It's not right, it's not fair, but it's the simple fact: once you're talking to a cop, you already lost, even if you're right. The ticket is bullshit, but you've still got it, and it's still going to cost you one way or another. The only decision open to you now is how much more do you want to lose. Are the hours you will spend in and waiting for court worth more than $25.00? Is the sense of righteousness you will feel by fighting the charge worth more than the difference?

    Perhaps a better approach to the stop would have been to say, "I'm sorry, officer, but my understanding of the rules was different. I understand that this may be a special situation. Would it be possible for you to help me take the lane so that I can rejoin normal traffic?" At which point he stops traffic for you, and you continue on for the block, and go back to driving normally once you're out of sight the special situation.


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    As such, your best strategy is always to roll right on over and show your belly.

    Please, tell me you're being sarcastic here.

    Just like those prostitutes who met Mr. Firefighter?

    He pretended to be a cop. He told them that lots of bad things would happen if they didn't roll over and show their ... belly ...

    At least, as a cyclist, I have been able to ignore or talk back to stupid because not having a motor means not having registration, etc. I also have Massbike and their multiple legal injunctions against police for this sort of nonsense to back me up.

    Perhaps we are witnessing the founding of MassScoot?

    Your attitude is the reason cops can be pricks.

    Rolling over and showing you belly? Since when are cops the enemy? The man is doing his job and he made a mistake. Rather than politely attmepting to let him finish making his mistake, he began to be disobedient and rattling off the law. The law was irrelevent at that point as he had made his decision, his decision was final, and he had decided to give a warning. You disrepsected him by going on about the law when it was clear he was not intereseted in what you had to say.

    Once you really pissed him off, he cited you. you continued to act childish and waste both of your time by taking pictures and making statements such as "be sure to show up at court" or whatever. Honestly, I'm with the cop here. If I were in his shoes I would have done the same thing.

    We scooter riders flout the laws constantly. By registering a 50cc scooter as a moped you are breaking a law when you sign the statement saying it complies with the moped laws and you will never exceed 25 mph. None of them meet these rules. Enjoy your loophole and if you get yelled at by a cop, simply say "yes sir" and move along.

    WTF is wrong with you?

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    In terms of power, you lost the minute you opened your mouth.


    You lose the minute you surrender your principles and your rights to power-hungry assholes like this.

    I'm a realist

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    So shoot me.

    Kaz has already lost. He's either lost the 25 dollars or he's lost the time he will spend at court. It's up to him to do the conversion.

    There is a way he wouldn't have lost. That way is not arguing the letter of the law with a cop on the street. That is a game you cannot win. It's as rigged as Vegas.

    You argue that the intangibles are worth more. Fair enough. You are not a realist, you're an idealist. I used to be too, but it didn't pay well. Have fun at the barricades, and I hope your ammo doesn't blow up.

    "I'm a realist"

    Isn't that what Quisling said? Him and any number of traitors and fascists and dictators and scoundrels who put their special flavor of realism above silly things like basic democratic principles?

    Just saying ...

    You just lost this argument

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    I hope you realize it's utterly despicable of you to belittle the murder of millions of innocent people by comparing it to Kaz not mouthing off to a trooper who stops him on his scooter. Shame on you.

    So, where would YOU draw the line?

    Or would you draw the line at all? Do tell, where is that line between rolling over and showing your belly to petty harassment by an ignorant cop and letting your country be invaded? Yes, the two are different in severity ... but is it not also "realistic", by your logic, to hand off your country to the Nazi forces like Quisling did? Or be one of the millions who knew full well what was going on all around them during WW II but remained complicit.

    I suspect that you'd rather blow up and go hyperbolic than admit that you don't have such a neat way to tell when things are "serious enough" or "important enough" to warrant resistance versus kissing up to/rolling over for illegitimate authority. If you do, please explain how a "realist" decides these things?

    Interesting Corollary

    It's funny, Gareth, because this is actually the same situation as the post it's referring to. Swirlygrrl is constantly jumping to amazingly hyperbolic conclusions and making wildly inappropriate comparisons and accusations of people. You could sit here and fight her on it like Kaz and the trooper, and ultimately realize it isn't worth the effort, or you can just shake your head and walk away, rather than let her frustrate you.

    Quite right

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    Can you imagine what a bundle of fun Swirly would be as a cop? "Hey! You can't park in that spot! That's just like perpetuating genocide in East Timor!"

    Because her powers of hateful verbal diarrhea completely overwhelm any possibility of making a reasonable counter-argument, let me set a good example and just walk away.

    Gareth never answers the tough questions

    He likes to think of himself as a Cop who is Always Right. He's too perfect, therefore he doesn't have to justify his "rationality" or "reasoning" or "reality" when ad-hominem attacks will do.

    I won't link to his webby-nominated performance on the first Clark Rockefeller thread. Pawtucket Pat's a little too new here to have seen that amazingly histrionic "the courts are sooo mean to dads" defense of a guy who turned out to be a real sham.

    I Was Getting Ready To Argue On Your Side, Gareth...

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    ... until you played the "Hah! You mentioned The Nazis! I win!" card. I think that's a fairly odious tactic.

    That aside, you're right. The reality of the situation is that the cop has all of the power. The best course of action is to just shut up. If he gives you a citation, THEN you can fight in court. Otherwise, it's just you baiting an asshole to be an asshole.

    Sorry. My Libertarian hackles certainly get raised by the circumstances, and the "show him your belly" rhetoric, but sometimes logic has to come first. Gareth is right.


    I think we get it.

    Any more and I can make Jello.

    [For those that don't get my stupid joke: Beat a dead horse till you get gelatin... make Jello... or glue]

    Seems like a no-brainer to me

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    Agents of the government, from the President of the United States, to your local cop walking a beat will abuse their authority up until the point they're called out on it and held accountable.

    Doing nothing and paying the fine will only validate this authoritarian mindset.

    In a free society, silence and apathy will only get you the oppression you deserve.

    Once the clerk/magistrate/whoever sees that you weren't in violation of the passing on the right, and the trumped up construction zone charge, they'll more than likely come down on your side on the third one as well.

    This was nothing more than a power tripping cop looking to exercise his might on what he perceived to be a weaker being. Don't allow his perceptions to become reality.

    If nothing else

    By on

    he'll be tied up in court for a little while, when he could be out making OT money and being a dick on a detail.

    As a fellow scooter rider

    I feel like you were kinda being as much of a jerk as the cop. Yeah he was in the wrong, but he was giving you a "verbal warning" which would have done nothing to you. You could have just shut up, moved on and avoided the whole ticket thing. You were kinda being a smug know-it-all.

    If you were in such a rush to pass on the right, why did you waste so much time with the cop?


    You pretty much have to fight it now. The guy gave you a verbal warning and you were being a smug know-it-all trying to flaunt the fact that he was wrong. If it was worth it to the point of continuing to argue it on the street, how do you let it go now?

    He was trying to save face, and you wouldn't let him

    I won't call anyone a jerk here, but I think what happened was the cop heard you reading, realized you may be right, and decided to save face by giving you a warning, which is the cop version of saying "OK, whatever, just get out of here." So when you called him on that, he took offense and decided to be a hard guy.

    I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying that's how these things usually go. It doesn't make you a quisling to sort of weigh the inconvenience against the principle, especially when there's no real penalty or harm. Next time, let the cop be a jerk in exchange for no ticket, and call the barracks later on if you're really upset about it.

    Not quite

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    MGL 90-1b defines it as a separate entity. It's somewhere between a bicycle and a motorcycle. The legal term is a motorized bike from the classic "mo(tor) & ped(al)s" but sub-50cc scooters are given the same designation in this day and age. This includes the bike-esque allowance to pass on the right in the lane of traffic and use of the bike lanes (but not bike ways that are not attached to the street).

    I would look at it this way

    That $25 ticket is for every time you operated your scooter over 25mph, or the fact that your scooter is capapble of more than 30 mph...they all are.

    Learn your lesson and move on.


    50cc scooters can go 33mph nowadays??

    I had a Suzuki Shuttle in the '80s, and I weighed only 158 at the time. I got it up to 22mph, but that was down a really, really steep hill.

    If I was giving someone a lift down the block, it took the Flintstone Method to get moving at all.

    Way over

    Mine cruises at about 35 and tops out at a shade over 40. I was blown away by a guy on a Vespa LX50...I dont know of a 50cc scoot nowadays that doesnt break 30. By law you are never to operate them over 25 and they cannot be capable of breaking 30. If you register a scoot that goes over 30, you are supposed to register it as a motorcycle. This rule is not enforced, and thus flouted by a lot of people...for now.

    Honda Super Cub?

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    So I take it you're not rocking a Honda Super Cub?

    You can haul a whole third world family - including goat - on one of those.

    1st citiation is good

    The first (incorrect) citation is good, right? That'll get thrown out instantly, at which point you say/imply "We've established that you can make fundamental mistakes. Now let us work out how many mistakes you've made that day."

    He deserved a ticket for

    He deserved a ticket for being right?

    What sense does that make? Sure, his demeanor needs work, but being punished for being right is asinine.

    Oh boy what a mess

    First of all, you are a fool to open your mouth to a trooper. Especially a prick like this one.

    It isn't clear from your post exactly what laws you were charged with breaking. Was it just MGL 90-1b? That law has nothing to do with failure to stop, or with construction zones. It regulates age, helmets, passengers, use on highways, etc. Its provision regarding passing on the right is a permissive statement, not a restrictive one. MGL 90-1b mentions no restrictions about passing on the right. I question whether you can be charged with a passing violation under 90-1b. It incorporates other laws by reference, but I wonder if it is sufficient for the trooper to cite 90-1b, or if he instead needs to cite the particular law that he thinks you broke.

    If you drive a car, I would find out whether a ticket under MGL 90-1b affects your insurance rates. If it doesn't, then just pay this ticket and be done with it.

    If you are going to fight the ticket, your best chance of winning would be an argument based on the law, not on the facts of the situation. Arguing the facts means you are disagreeing with the trooper, and he is presumed to be correct unless proven otherwise.

    If you are really unhappy with the trooper's behavior and plan to discuss this at the hearing, then you need to file a complaint against him right now. Because when you mention his behavior at the hearing, the judge is going to say "If he really behaved the way you say he did, why didn't you immediately file a complaint?"

    Mass. State Police

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    Years ago (and it may still be true), a state police officer was trained to make up his mind about the level of sanction connected with a highway stop (verbal warning, written warning, citation, arrest) before he gets out of his cruiser (or begins an interaction with an allegedly errant citizen), and to change his mind only on the basis of additional facts (such as no driver's license, liquor on the breath, visible weapon), not the citizen's behavior, provided it was lawful. This cop broke that elementary rule, and should be disciplined for it.

    But I'm sure he won't be. Where I live in the western part of the state, the Massachusetts State Police conduct themselves like a hostile force of occupation. I've had several encounters with them (no tickets, because I wasn't doing anything wrong). I make it a practice always to ask the trooper for his shield number and to jot down the number of his cruiser. I have found them to be rude, overbearing, and arrogant.

    It was not always thus. Before I moved away 30 years ago (and moved back six years ago), the Massachusetts State Police were a remarkably professional and helpful force. No nonsense, no fake tickets, a realistic approach to law enforcement. No longer. Something must have happened -- possibly the progressive fascization of the country as a whole that has been going on over the last eight years. Police forces often recruit from former MPs (and, in our time, former defense "contractors," i.e. mercenaries). Given what our MPs and defense "contractors" have been up to of late in Abu Ghraib and other garden spots, this kind of behavior shouldn't surprise anyone.

    You'd think state cops would

    You'd think state cops would have better things to do than harass someone on a moped, especially considering that moped riders are contributing to improving the traffic and gasoline situation for everyone else.

    Not true

    By on

    Older model 2-stroke scooters, maybe.

    Modern scooters (including my own) are 4-stroke with a 2-way catalytic converter. Since my engine is also smaller than a car's (by a big factor), per mile I burn far less gas and so I put out far less emission. Per *gallon* you could say that my engine is less efficient at burning the gas and also cleaning its output (a two-way converter doesn't have anything to scrub CO2 emissions) and therefore I pollute more *per gallon* than a modern well-running car, but then again, I go over twice the distance on a single gallon so I use far less gas than any car on the road (I have bought about 6 gallons and gone over 500 miles so far).

    Per mile, we pollute *FAR* less and consume *FAR* less than a car.


    you quote a law for motorized bicycles, not mopeds, which have different laws and regulations. A motorized bike does not need to be registered and can be used as a bike. If your bike was regisitered (like you said), then I believe you have a moped, which is not from the law which you quoted....

    "Motorized bicycle'', a pedal bicycle which has a helper motor, or a non-pedal bicycle which has a motor, with a cylinder capacity not exceeding fifty cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and which is capable of a maximum speed of no more than thirty miles per hour.

    "Motorized scooter'', any 2 wheeled tandem or 3 wheeled device, that has handlebars, designed to be stood or sat upon by the operator, powered by an electric or gas powered motor that is capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion. The definition of "motorized scooter'' shall not include a motorcycle or motorized bicycle or a 3 wheeled motorized wheelchair

    "Motorcycle'', any motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, including any bicycle with a motor or driving wheel attached, except a tractor or a motor vehicle designed for the carrying of golf clubs and not more than four persons, an industrial three-wheel truck, a motor vehicle on which the operator and passenger ride within an enclosed cab, or a motorized bicycle.

    These laws were also just ammended (and not updated from the original posters post) regarding "minibikes" which now are classified under a different catagory.

    You are mistaken

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    Motorized scooters do not include items which fall into the motorized bicycle (moped) category. My Piaggio falls under the moped designation and registers with the state. The Motorized scooters do not have registration (and actually have a law, MGL 90-1e, that says they *have* to stay on the right side of the lane at *all* times including passing and aren't allowed to drive in the dark or with any passengers, and have to stay under 20 mph on the road). You can read all of the details at the RMV update from 2005 for defining mini-bikes and pocket bikes as "motorized scooters".

    Trust me, I had all of these questions when I first considered purchasing my Piaggio and spoke to a representative at the RMV to make sure what I'm explaining now was the correct definitions.

    Stay right at all times?

    Is a scooter supposed to make a left turn from the far right side of the road? I hope not -- a bicycle is neither required nor expected to do that, and it sounds very unsafe.


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    I don't write them, I just read them. :)


    The law is saying that you can pass vehicles on the right if you want to. It is designed to let scooters ride on the road and bike lane if allowed. It was not intended to have bikes taking turns from other lanes or traveling in lanes that are not safe.

    im confused

    I didnt think you had to register "motorized bikes" which would have fallen into that category.

    Another point of contention with these laws (from what I have heard) is that companies have been manufacturing certain bikes that have small engines, (under 50 ccs) but can go over 30 mph. This puts those bikes in the motorcycle category. Im not sure if your specific bike can go over 30 mph. Most piaggios can go over 30 mph.

    Either way, dont police officers have the right to dictate traffic flow patterns if work is going on? It seemed to me that the original trooper was working in an area and asked you to follow a specific law which the cop determined to be unsafe at that period of time.

    Kind of like when a traffic light is broken and is green on all ways. If a cop tells one street to stop, you cant tell the cop that you have the right to go when its green do you?

    And many roads have CMR statutes (State roads) that have a whole different set of rules in what motorists can do on those roads.

    And trust me, you will have no chance at that initial hearing with the clerk because of your first attitude (even if you are right). I would suggest apologizing to the cop and let the clerk know that it was your understanging that your moped could pass on the right. Just make sure you bring your owners manual so you can prove that your cycle cannot go over 30 mph, where it would be classified as a motorcycle.


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    The "construction zone" complaint by the officer was not even mentioned until after he had handed me the ticket. He then pointed a full block away at the next intersection (picture I took of the scene) where construction equipment was parked on the shoulder (they work in the mornings at Kent and Longwood). The intersection he was working (Chapel and Longwood) had a blinking signal (malfunction?). At the time that I crossed the intersection, the officer was *not* in the intersection controlling traffic. He was on the side of Chapel, out of line-of-sight, and I believe he was chatting with someone at the crosswalk. When he approached me after requesting me to stop, he came from the corner sidewalk (to my right rear) and not from the intersection (to my left rear).

    As the officer was not in the intersection giving directions, I obeyed all of the traffic laws in place. The officer was not complaining that I couldn't pass on the right because of the situation. After stopping me, he explicitly stated that it is *never* legal to pass on the right (and he also lumped bicycles in with that declaration as well during his verbal warning). I agree that if the officer had told me to get in line with traffic as I approached his position, I would have done so. I started in line with the car in front of me and only moved to pass when he was stopped due to excessive traffic (I basically *only* pass in stopped traffic and often only if there are more than 2-3 cars in front of me at the light and when I know the light will remain red long enough to pass safely).

    Instead, his "don't pass on the right!" was yelled at me from behind and had his cruiser not been present where it was, I would have been far from earshot by the time he finally decided it was necessary to stop me rather than simply complaining from his current position out of the intersection about my legal driving.

    you may be right,

    but the law still is not very clear. Can you pass on the right if there is no lane to travel in? As far as the construction zone is concerned (with light work) I would consider the fact that he is directing traffic in that intersection (longwood and riverway) as a "construction zone" since it correlates with the work on the lights that were going on at Kent and Longwood (which is funny because I was there the other night and they were fixing the lights).

    Did you check the CMR statues for mopeds on parkways and state roads? (for your court date). And you should always appeal any ticket.


    By on

    I just looked through the CMR online and I don't see anything pertinent to mopeds. I don't think Longwood Ave is a state road anyways and that's what I was driving on.


    how about your moped being able to go over 30mph?


    At first I thought you were taking a right onto the riverway from Longwood or a right onto Longwood from the riverway (both state roads). Longwood at Chapel St is not a state road, and the trooper should not have been there in the first place.

    But Im not sure you can press the construction zone thing, since 3 troopers at the riverway, chapel and Kent, would make the whole area one large "construction" zone.

    As far as the failure to obey a police officer, thats going to be a tough one too, since its really your word against his now. Although you did stop, now this cop can say he had to leave his job (crossing pedestrians) to talke to you which made the road unsafe.

    Now if you can prove that your initial move was legal (that you actually have a moped) and that your passing was legal, then the other fines would get thrown out.

    And again, the whole ticket was for 25? That would mean you were only cited for one infraction, and the other ones would have been warnings on the same citation.


    By on

    The 3 troopers were spaced over some distance on Longwood. One was at Longwood and Brookline, the second was at Longwood and Riverway, the third was at Longwood and Chapel. The lights were functioning at all but Chapel, but between the afternoon Sox game and normal heavy traffic, it seemed like they must have needed the extra traffic direction to help alleviate the load. There was no officer at Longwood and Kent and there was no active construction work (although I'm aware that that does not mean it's not a construction zone, my contention is that there were no signs marking any beginning to the construction zone and the first sign of construction was at the complete other end of the block from where I was when asked to stop. Normally a violation in a construction zone would double the cost of the violation, yet he still only put $25 on the ticket and simply wrote "construction zone on right shoulder" in the complaint area of the ticket.

    The violation of law that he quoted was simply "90-1b" and the three complaints (passing on right, failure to stop, and within construction zone) attached to define the violation were written in underneath, but only 1 $25 fine was then associated with a single "total" violation of 90-1b as it would seem by the way the ticket is written.

    Ch 90 1B

    This section covers all violations with mopeds. So if you went through a red light, then took an illegal turn, then went down a one-way, you could recieve 3 violations all under 90/1B, where if you were in a car, there would be 3 seperate chapters and sections.

    Since "passing on the right" is not a violation of 90/1b, there would be no way you could be cited for this violation and this is (or should be) your best way to beat this ticket.

    But unless the trooper thought your moped was a version that legally needs to be classified as a motorcycle (going over 30 mph), then you should have an easy case.


    By on

    I really went back and forth on how much is it worth me contesting this ticket.

    I sent it in this past weekend with a request to appeal for a magistrate hearing. I am waiting for a scheduled date.

    Magistrate hearing result

    By on

    Today has been the ultimate in frustration.

    I arrived well on time, around 8:45 AM, at the Brookline courthouse for my hearing at 9:30 AM. I then spent the next 15 minutes attempting to get my scooter's glovebox to open in the cold so that I could bring my registration sheet inside with me. It had a copy of the MGL 90-1b on it and I felt that might come in handy. Little did I know how important that would become, but unfortunately the glove box would not open no matter how much prying and clawing and "popping" of the lock I attempted. The seat lock had given me problems like this previously and it was mechanical (not "frozen" by water). I didn't have anything necessary to get into the glove box and I was running out of time. Oh well, I go with what I have, since as soon as I tell them that I was stopped for "passing on right" with a 90-1b violation it should be over.

    There are 4 of us this morning for traffic court and I was the third to enter. I was sworn in by the clerk magistrate (Mr. "Savhee"? His handwriting is pretty bad.) and the State Trooper present reads the back of the ticket basically saying "He passed 3 cars on the right...and I can't read the rest, here you look at it". This wasn't the trooper who ticketed me. So much for his big boasting "promise" to be there on the day of my hearing. The magistrate glances at it and asks for my side. I explain that I did pass on the right because under MGL 90-1b, which is the citation I was given, as an "under 50 cc" moped, I am allowed that right and that I believe the ticket was given in error. I apologized for not accepting the verbal warning that the officer initially gave me but that I was standing on my principals at the time and that is why I was here today. The magistrate turns to the trooper and asks "if he knows anything about 'this' (90-1b allowing pass on right)". The trooper doesn't and just says something like "the officer was there and wrote this". Completely useless.

    The magistrate turns back to me and says "I find you responsible". I was taken aback. I quickly ask him how I can be found responsible for a violation of a law that says that what I did was allowed. I said that it was written on my moped registration that what I did was allowable. He looks at me and says "do you have that registration?" I explained that I could not retrieve it from my glove box because it was stuck shut but that it was right out front. He looks back down at the paperwork and keeps writing up the $25 responsible verdict.

    I quickly asked him to look at the court hearing announcement where the info from the ticket is summarized and that there is no license plate listed there because I don't have one because my scooter is under 50cc. I explain that my violation is for 90-1b which is the moped law, but if I was over 50cc I would have been a motorcycle and violated a completely different law therefore the officer who wrote the ticket acknowledges that I have a 50cc scooter. (Hell, now that I think of it, what if I had sold the scooter between September and now, there'd be no registration for me to bring in!) He's now ignoring me and telling me I can appeal and bring my registration to the judge to undo his responsible verdict and $25 ticket cost...for a $20 filing fee, non-refundable. He asks if I want to schedule an appeal.

    What sense is that? I wasn't in it for the money and why would I pay $20 just to try and redeem $25, as well as a day from work...I knew this was as far as I planned to go with this ticket and I can't believe that this guy basically didn't care about the law at all. He didn't know the law, he didn't care what the law said, and he was just paper pushing. Neither the cop that stopped me nor the one in court knew the law and the one in court didn't care either.

    I went out to my scooter with my paperwork and tried the lock again. Popped open on the first try...bastard lock. I grabbed my registration hoping for a last ditch effort if they were still dealing with the final person. I met the state trooper coming out as I was walking up. I said I finally got my registration out, and he said he was done for the day and kept walking past me. I said, "I understand, but could you give me a second so that I can understand what to do next time I believe the officer is wrong?" He ignored me and kept walking without even looking back or facing me. I called louder, "Could you even acknowledge that I'm talking to you?!" He got in his cruiser and left. Bastard. I wish I had his name/badge because that was just down-right ignorant of him for no reason.

    So, that's the end of this saga. I will be out $25 to the state for a "pass on right" violation of MGL 90-1b which specifically states (as written at the top of this page) that I am allowed to pass on right. The worst part of this is that I have little to no trust for MA State Police now, particularly when it comes to them dealing with a scooter owner and scooter laws. I'm not even mad at anyone involved, really, except that I am entirely frustrated with the whole thing.

    You are taking this way too personally

    By on

    In theory, the initial magistrate's hearing is conducted under the same procedures as an appeal before a judge. In reality, the magistrate's hearing is usually useless and you will often be found responsible there. It is a kangaroo court and you can't do anything about it. It is just one step in the process. The key is to appeal the magistrate's ruling and get a new hearing in front of a real judge.

    The hearing in front of the judge will be done de novo, meaning you start fresh. Come prepared this time with: evidence, a printout of the relevant MGL from the state's website (don't expect the judge to have the law memorized), and printouts of any relevant case law you can find. The important thing at this hearing is to get the facts onto the record (the hearing will be recorded, I think). If you lose the judge's hearing and choose to appeal further, you can always make arguments based on the law, but you cannot re-argue the facts that were presented to the judge. So get the facts on the record, and if the trooper (who may show up this time) disagrees with your version of the facts, try to convince the judge that you are right (if you're feeling brave you could ask the judge for a verbal "finding of fact" but I don't think he is under any obligation to give one). Rules for the proceedings are here:

    Oh and for God's sake don't try to educate the troopers. They just don't care. If they cared about the Truth they would have become lawyers or philosophers.

    Good luck!

    Fight it?

    By on

    I'd have thought it'd always be "worth the fight" but look at the reality:

    * It's a $25 ticket.
    * It's a $20 no-matter-what fee to appeal to a judge.
    * It's at least another workday lost to court over a $5 differential (and principle...that and $3 will buy you a cup of coffee).
    * It's still possible that I would lose (as today has taught me).
    * I don't have to carry any insurance because basically I ride an overpowered bicycle in the eyes of the law so it doesn't matter that I have a "responsible" verdict.

    If this ticket were for anything greater than what it is monetarily, I'd probably have scheduled the appeal. As it is, I don't even know that it's possible to schedule an appeal as the clerk's office told me I had to do it at the time of the decision to schedule a date and time with the trooper, etc.

    It wasn't all for nothing, I've learned lessons and likely won't be in the same position again.

    That's not my experience, exactly

    By on

    I once appealed a pair of tickets - $50 each for Unregistered Motor Vehicle and Uninsured Motor Vehicle. Totally my fault, I'd let the insurance lapse on my old Jeep while I tried to scrape together the cash to get the transmission fixed. I was extremely polite and apologetic, basically throwing myself at the magistrate's mercy because I was strapped for cash and I didn't want to get dinged for two moving violations. I explained that I hadn't been driving the car - I couldn't shift out of second gear - but I understood that I was still in the wrong. The guy tossed one of the tickets and made me pay the other one.

    Note that this worked not because I was "right," but because I was apologetic and admitted my "wrong." This was particularly easy in my case, because I *was* wrong (legally, if not morally). I'm not the least bit surprised the OP was shot down - he sounds like the kind of person who will often come out on the wrong end of situations because he simply must be right.