The new law effective April 7 that amended the General Laws to add a provision that stated: “…headlights and taillights shall be turned on by the vehicle operator… when the vehicle’s windshield wipers are needed…”, has sparked a fire storm of charges and counter-charges between legislators and an even an editorial by the Boston Globe.
How law got approved criticized while the Boston Globe editorializes against law’s insurance surcharges
Immediately following the effective date of the law on April 7, 2015, two republican legislators filed a bill to repeal the law. Additionally, other legislators had charged that the passage of the bill in an informal session of the Legislature in December was inappropriate and not done transparently for a law that carried the possibility of substantial insurance surcharges to motorists for a $5.00 fine. The sponsor of the bill, Representative Linsky of Natick countered that he had filed this bill several times in the past and that the informal session allowed any legislator who had read the bill to speak an objection and the bill would have to be heard then in a formal session.
The Boston Globe joined the fray with an editorial on April 25, 2015, urging the repeal of the surcharge connection to the law stating:
While the fine is a mere $5 —…the law also makes driving in the rain without headlights a surchargeable offense… Someone who forgets to turn on their headlights during an April shower shouldn’t have to pay that kind of price. It’s a degree of punishment [the surcharge] that is warranted only for more serious violations.
Bill’s original sponsor backtracks and joins chorus for repeal of surcharge connection
No matter who might be right, Representative Linsky has now joined with other representatives in sponsoring a proposed rider to the state budget to retroactively repeal the surcharge provision of the new law. If enacted, the law will remain on the books but amended to prohibit a civil infraction under the statute being used by an insurance company for merit rating surcharge purposes.
The general consensus in the Legislature seems to ensure that the new law will be off the books for insurance surcharge purposes soon.
Agency checklists will keep you posted on any future developments at the legislature. Click on the title to the right for Agency Checklists’ original March 22 article on the law’s surcharge: New Surchargeable Violation For No Headlights When Windshield Wipers Needed