Background Checks for Uber/Lyft Drivers Mean Fewer Drivers and Unexpected Job Loss

Update 2/22/17: We are getting a number of media inquiries for these stories from multiple outlets. If you are a driver who has been unexpectedly or unfairly dropped due to a background check failure, please call us at (781) 817-6332.

Criminal Charge in Massachusetts? Call Attorney Russell Matson at (781) 817-6332.

A new background check requirement for rideshare drivers (Uber/Lyft) in Massachusetts is having serious and unexpected consequences for drivers without a perfect driving record, or with some very minor or old criminal incidents. The standards being applied are extraordinarily strict and include non-conviction continuances, which were never meant to follow you for years or decades.

We’ve had quite a few calls from drivers who are shocked to learn they failed the check and are now out of a job. The Commonwealth has pledged to review every ride-hailing drivers background check under this new standard by April 3, 2017, and follow up with routine rechecks of drivers every six months to catch new incidents.

Governor Baker’s stated goal is to make this strict new checks “the most comprehensive in the country”.

But do they go too far? Are we limiting the ability to get work of people with minor incidents from many years in their past? [Read more…]

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Distracted Driving Laws in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, it is a ticketable offense to text while behind the wheel, under statute G. L. c 90, Sec13B. The penalty is a $100 fine for a first offense.

This past April was “distracted driving awareness” month in Massachusetts, increasing the number of high-profile media campaigns and news about texting while driving. Police patrols are looking to write citations to raise awareness about texting while driving and other distractions.

Any electronic messaging via a mobile device, including texting, reading or composing an email, or internet access or communication via phone is not allowed by law. [Read more…]

Providing Alcohol to Minors Law in Massachusetts – “Social Host”

It is illegal for adults to provide, supply, or furnish alcohol to anyone under age (under 21), and also to knowingly allow underage drinking in one’s home. This article from the Globe a few years ago discusses Massachusetts’ little known and poorly understood “social host” laws against adults allowing minors to drink alcohol on their property, in addition to laws against them actually supplying alcohol.

The charges can be pretty clear cut if parents or adults actually directly provided alcohol to underage kids, but things get complicated if the police don’t know, and the Commonwealth can’t prove that adults were aware of the party & drinking going on. For example, if the parents were away, or kids were drinking in the basement and the parents didn’t know they had access to alcohol, that could be a legitimate legal defense. [Read more…]

Tougher Suspended License Laws Proposed After Motor Vehicle Homicide

The father of a victim who was struck and killed by a man who was driving on a suspended license is hoping to toughen laws and enforcement mechanisms to keep dangerous drivers off the road.

Marc Cremer testified before the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee on Bill H.4098, which would increase the maximum sentence for vehicular homicide while driving on a suspended license to 15 years in prison for chronic offenders of driving on a suspended license.

The law would not impact cases where a license suspension was initiated by parking tickets, civil violations, or RMV issues, it would apply only in cases of suspension after a criminal offense.
[Read more…]

How to Avoid a Criminal Record – Pretrial Probation vs Pretrial Diversion

I can’t have a criminal record. Is there anything you can do to help me?

We get this question nearly every day from callers facing minor criminal charges. For many people, the consequences of a criminal record are very frightening and can have a life changing, negative impact.

A criminal record can prevent you from getting your dream job, a scholarship, an apartment, and cause a variety of other unpredictable problems, now and in the future.

Many organizations and schools routinely run CORI checks on members and volunteers. You need to submit to a CORI check to coach your child’s soccer team, volunteer to be a scout leader, or even just to chaperone a school field trip or event.

The good news is that there are often legal defense options available that can avoid a criminal record. We are able to take care of a lot of these case if you receive a criminal citation to a clerk magistrate’s hearing. But we can also work out a deal to avoid a permanent criminal record that will appear on a background check after an arraignment, or sometimes, technically, immediately before it happens. [Read more…]