William D. Kickham
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Operating So As To Endanger

texting and drivingOperating Negligently So As To Endanger

This crime, otherwise known as “Operating To Endanger,” is one of those often amorphous, difficult-to-describe crimes, which can often easily land people either in jail or in front of a judge.

As it’s formally known, the criminal offense of Operating A Vehicle Negligently So As To Endanger is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 24(2)(a). This offense consists of the following three legal elements, which the commonwealth (the prosecution) must establish beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction of this crime:

  • 1) That the defendant operated a motor vehicle. The definition of “operated” is largely controlled by case law, but in general the keys must be in the ignition, and the defendant must have been in the driver’s seat at the time the offense is alleged to have occurred.

  • 2) That the defendant operated the motor vehicle on a “public way,” which is legally interpreted to be a place where the general public has a right of access, or where members of the public have access as licensees or invitees, such as parking lot shopping centers and similar. “Public way” is not limited to a public street, road or highway. It can include other areas and properties regularly traversed by motor vehicles.

  • 3) That the defendant operated the motor vehicle in a negligent manner, in the process endangering the lives or safety of the general public. Operating a motor vehicle “negligently” in this context means failing to exercise due care. “Due care” is legally interpreted to mean acting in a manner that a reasonably prudent person would act. (It also includes refraining from conduct that a reasonably prudent person would refrain from.) In essence, Massachusetts law determines that a person acts negligently when he acts in a manner that a reasonable person would not act. If by acting in such manner or by failing to act in an appropriate manner you create an unreasonable danger to others, then you can be found guilty of this crime. Various factors are considered in determining whether a defendant was operating a motor vehicle negligently. These several factors include: Speed; the defendant’s physical condition at the time of the offense; the condition of the motor vehicle and whether it was malfunctioning; weather and driving conditions, the type of road that the defendant was driving on (e.g., neighborhood road or highway?), any sudden emergencies that may have required quick decision–making on the part of the defendant; and the nature and extent of injuries to any alleged victims.

A judge or jury can use these as well as other factors in determining whether a defendant is to be found guilty of this offense. A defendant can be found guilty of Operating So As To Endanger regardless of whether or not an accident resulted and even if no other people were actually injured when the defendant was cited or arrested. The legal question to be considered is whether or not the defendant’s operation of the motor vehicle at the time in question posed the potential of endangering any other persons who might have been on the road or street where the defendant was operating the motor vehicle. Conversely, if an accident with another motor vehicle or pedestrian did occur, that fact, in and of itself, is not sufficient to find a defendant guilty of this offense. For example, if there is evidence that the driver of the other vehicle (or a pedestrian if no other vehicle was involved,) was in some way negligent or intoxicated at the time in question, that other person’s negligence or intoxication can be considered by the judge or jury when determining the defendant’s guilt or innocence. Importantly, a defendant charged with Operating So As To Endanger cannot be found guilty of this crime if the other driver’s (or pedestrian’s) negligence or intoxication is determined to be the sole cause of any accident that resulted.


The crime of Operating Negligently So As To Endanger is punishable by imprisonment for at least 2 weeks and a maximum of 2 years in a County Jail/House of Correction, or by a fine of at least $20 and a maximum of $200, or both.

Make The Smart Choice

If you or someone you know is being charged with a Massachusetts Operating So As To Endanger, that person is going to need to retain a talented and experienced Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Offenses attorney – one who can demonstrate a proven track record of success in defending Operating To Endanger charges in Massachusetts. To choose an attorney who only handles these cases “now and again” is a foolish decision. Defendants charged with this crime need a lawyer who is very experienced in defending these charges. Also, it is very unwise to “shop” for an attorney based upon the lowest fee quoted. What is true of every profession is also true in the legal profession: “You get what you pay for.”

Don’t make that kind of mistake. While our fees aren’t among the lowest, our talent is among the highest. We know how to aggressively defend Massachusetts Operating To Endanger charges, and we will protect you from Day One. Call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Ph.: (781) 320-0062, or contact us online for a free initial consultation, and we’d be glad to let you know what your legal options are, and what we can do for you.

Westwood and Boston, Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer William D. Kickham has appeared as a legal analyst on a variety of respected media, including Fox News TV-25/Boston, The Boston Herald, WBZ-AM Radio 1030, WCVB-TV5/Boston, Nightside With Dan Rea, Greater Boston With Emily Rooney, Money Matters Radio/Boston, and The Metro Newspaper/Boston. Attorney William D. Kickham is turned to by respected reporters and media organizations in Massachusetts as an authoritative expert in the field of criminal defense law, and the case results he produces for his clients attest to this. Reach out to us today at the office number (781) 320-0062, or contact Attorney Kickham directly at (617) 285-3600 to schedule a complimentary initial consultation for your case.

Client Reviews
When I was arrested for DUI, I was absolutely terrified. Had it not been for you, I might have been convicted of something I was not at all guilty of. My work life, my family life, my reputation, all could have been destroyed. You stood by me like the legal version of a bodyguard - and because of you, I was found not guilty. G.M.
When we got the call that our son had been arrested and charged with rape, we almost fainted. We know our son. He is not violent; he has never abused anyone, let alone another girl… If not for you and your "take no prisoners" attitude, our son might have been convicted of a crime that would have sent him to state prison. As far as we're concerned, our son owes you his life, and we owe you the world. We will never forget you. A.H. and P.H.
I hired Mr. William D. Kickham for a very important legal issue and I was extremely satisfied by the results. His in depth knowledge about the matter and his intelligent thinking was extremely beneficial. He is really an expert. He was also very supportive and sensitive towards my concerns. It was great to have a lawyer of his capacity. Thanks William for all the Help. N.G.
Atty. Kickham defended me on a charge of raping my girlfriend, who made up the whole story out of revenge because I was interested in someone else. If it weren’t for Attorney Kickham proving me innocent, God knows what might have happened to me. Z.B.
Mr. Kickham represented me on a trumped-up charge of domestic violence. The prosecutor and police wouldn’t back down, even after my spouse told them it was all untrue. They insisted on taking me to trial, and Mr. Kickham never wavered. He was my legal bodyguard, and I was found not guilty. M.B.
Of the many talents Atty. Kickham has, two are these: 1) He is ten times as persuasive as the best lawyer you’ve seen in the movies; and 2) Nothing - but nothing - gets by him. The police arrested me on completely false drug charges, and after a heated courtroom battle, Atty. Kickham won the day. Trust me, it was no surprise. D.C.
Because I mildly disciplined my child for throwing a tantrum, I was actually charged with child abuse. It was horrifying. Atty. Kickham fought for me tooth and nail, until I was declared not guilty. One hell of a lawyer. D.D.
I complimented a co-worker on her looks and patted her on the back as I did so. Two hours later, the police showed up and accused me of indecent assault & battery. From the day I hired him, Atty. Kickham fought the DA’s office until the charges were dropped. If not for him, my life would have been ruined. A.K.