Ready to Gamble? Massachusetts Refunds $25 if You Beat Your Ticket

What do casinos and fighting traffic tickets have in common?  Winners get paid.

The influx of new Massachusetts casinos is creating a betting atmosphere throughout the state.  Due to a recent federal court decision, Crawford v. Blue, 271 F. Supp. 3d 316 (2017), Massachusetts drivers who fight civil traffic tickets and win receive a refund of the required $25 filing fee.  The refund does not apply to criminal violations.  In Massachusetts, drivers are presumed guilty once the ticket is written.  Drivers must appeal the ticket and be found “not responsible” to avoid car insurance rate increases, license suspensions, and driving classes, fines, and fees.  The only way to keep a clean driving record is to fight the ticket and win.


The $25 gamble in betting terms:

Driver places a $25 bet that he will beat a $100 speeding ticket.

Driver wins bet and beats ticket.

What is the payout when Driver wins the $25 bet?

  • Driver does not pay the $100 speeding ticket fine.
  • Driver avoids all possible punishments which may include car insurance rate increases, license suspensions, driving classes, fines, and fees.
  • Driver receives $25 refund of court hearing filing fee within 90 days of beating ticket.

Sounds good?  Not so fast.  Like every casino bet, the house has an advantage.  What is Massachusetts’ advantage?


The breakdown of the 3 refund rules:

  1. Driver received ticket after September 22, 2017.
  2. Driver paid the required $25 court filing fee.
  3. Driver is found “not responsible” for all violations on the ticket.

Hmmm.  Still sounds good.  What’s the catch?  Driver must beat all violations on the ticket to receive the $25 refund.

The breakdown of the catch:

  • Ticket has two violations:
    • Violation #1 Speeding
    • Violation #2 Failure to Stop
  • Driver is found:
    • “Responsible” for Violation #1 Speeding
    • “Not Responsible” for Violation #2 Failure to Stop
  • No refund because Driver is “Responsible” for Speeding.

In summary, to receive $25 refund, Driver must be “not responsible” for both Violation #1 Speeding and Violation #2 Failure to Stop.  Frustrated?  Shouldn’t be.  Driver can appeal to a judge by paying an additional $50 court hearing filing fee. The second hearing is the Judge’s Appeal.

The breakdown of the Judge’s Appeal in betting terms:

  • Driver bets $50 that he will win the Judge’s Appeal.
  • Driver’s total bet is $75.
    • $25 bet on Clerk’s Hearing
    • $50 bet on Judge’s Appeal
  • Driver waives his “Not Responsible” disposition for Violation #2 – Failure to Stop when appealing to the Judge.
  • Driver must fight both violations again (Speeding and Failure to Stop) at the Judge’s Appeal.

In summary, Driver must be “not responsible” for both Violation #1 Speeding and Violation #2 Failure to Stop to receive $25 refund.


Is a bird in hand worth two in the bush?  In other words, should Driver be content with his “not responsible” for “Failure to Stop” at the Clerk’s Hearing or gamble on being found “not responsible” on both violations (Speeding and Failure to Stop) at the Judge’s Appeal?

Driver should definitely gamble on beating both violations (Speeding and Failure to Stop) at the Judge’s Appeal. Why risk it all? Because the “responsible” for speeding violation also triggers Driver’s car insurance rate to increase.  Additionally, Driver could be exposed to more punishments including license suspensions, driving classes, fines, and fees based on Driver’s personal driving history.

In betting terms, Driver should go “ALL IN.”


Massachusetts traffic lawyer Melvin Heard is the recipient of Avvo’s Clients’ Choice Award 5 years in a row (2014-2018), rated Top Attorney with a perfect 10/10, and obtained over 99 positive client reviews.  Melvin received his Juris Doctorate from Boston College Law School and Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University.  He lives in Boston with his chihuahua Slim and sphynx Bastet.  He can be found at


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2 Responses to “Ready to Gamble? Massachusetts Refunds $25 if You Beat Your Ticket”

  1. James C. Walker says:

    This gamble should convince even the greatest safety-advocate that the system is a rigged for-profit racket.

  2. John Carr says:

    Here’s the District Court order:

    I can’t believe I missed this case. The judge said it went to the First Circuit. I monitor the First Circuit’s web site but never saw an opinion and Google can’t find one. Maybe it was an order that didn’t rise even to the status of an unpublished opinion.

    The judge considered deterring appeals to be a legitimate government objective. Massachusetts saw a revenue stream and grabbed it, and deterring not guilty pleas is not a legitimate goal in the first place.

    I also can’t agree with the state’s time estimate for how long it spends processing a ticket — 15 minutes in court and 10 minutes paperwork for a simple case. Magistrates don’t care enough to spend 15 minutes. They have better things to do (in their mind) than run a traffic court and you will not have much time to make a case. A new law authorizes electronic filing of tickets, eliminating much paperwork.

    When court revenue did not depend on convictions magistrates could be generous to drivers. But now we’re back to the old days when traffic courts were funded out of convictions. Some magistrates had a quota to meet. I wonder if they do again?