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Mass. High Court Upholds Fees To Appeal Tickets

Drivers, beware: The highest court in Massachusetts has upheld a law that requires motorists to pay additional fees to appeal traffic tickets.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Wednesday that the law, which establishes a $25 fee to appeal a civil traffic infraction to a clerk-magistrate and a $50 fee to appeal to a district judge, is constitutional.

The ruling follows a similar decision in a separate case in July, when the court upheld a law establishing a $25 fee to appeal parking tickets.

The court ruled in the case of a man who was issued a $100 citation by Salem police for failing to stay within a marked lane.

Ralph Sullivan argued that charging filing fees violates his constitutional right to equal protection under the law because the state is treating those who contest traffic citations differently from those who contest other civil infractions without having to pay a fee, such as possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, which does not require a filing fee to appeal.

The court rejected that argument, saying the process for people who challenge a motor vehicle violation is "significantly greater" than the process for people who challenge other civil infractions.

This program aired on September 21, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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