Four Unique Massachusetts Laws You Should Know About
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Four Unique Massachusetts Laws You Should Know About
Every state in the Union has its own laws which distinguish the state from other states and from federal laws. Only if there is a substantial conflict with federal legislation will there be an attempt to override new state laws. Most laws unique to Massachusetts may be a little unusual but not particularly contentious. The following four Massachusetts laws are an example of how Massachusetts does things a little differently! These four laws have been chosen carefully. There are some other laws in the state which are frankly a little weirder! Did you know you are not allowed to transport a gorilla in the back of your car or take a lion to the movies in Massachusetts?
Shovel Your Own Snow!
Massachusetts has now joined several other states in making homeowners whose properties adjoin public sidewalks responsible for shoveling the snow and ice off the sidewalk s that pedestrians can use the space safely. The aim is to stop pedestrians having to step out into the street to avoid a pile of snow in front of someone’s house. The law is a change from the past which asserted that homeowners weren’t responsible for any pile up of snow that had naturally occurred outside their own property boundary.
Did we say that these Massachusetts laws weren’t contentious? Well, having to shovel snow to avoid a fine probably doesn’t appeal to a lot of homeowners, at least until they have to step, slip and slide around someone else’s pile of snow! Every winter, slip and fall accidents that are caused by slipping over and being injured on a patch of slippery sidewalk are a major source of personal injury claims. The state has just joined states like New York in identifying who is liable in the event of such an accident.
Homeowners might very well ask how much the snow or ice cover should be before they attempt to shovel it away. What happens if they are sick or away from home? Some city administrations have made things clearer by stating that homeowners should “make every reasonable effort” to remove the snow or ice cover from an adjoining sidewalk. Like slip and fall accidents in a supermarket or grocery store the plaintiff must prove that the property owner knew that there was a slip and fall hazard, could have done something about it but failed to do so within a reasonable time period.
Fed Up With Your Name? No Problem!
In some states, changing your own name is no big deal. You just change it! In others, there’s a fair bit of bureaucracy involved. Massachusetts is somewhere in between. If you are fed up with your name and want to change it, and let’s face it, you are unlikely to have given yourself your own name – that would have been something your parents would have done, there’s no difficulty in the Bay State if you want to change your name. The only restrictions are of names that may cause offense or are deliberately done to avoid being caught for an offense. The actual law states that you can change your name as long as “such change is inconsistent with public interests.” Well, what are those “public interests?”
Examples of why you couldn’t change your name include:
- you were aiding in the commission of a crime;
- you were escaping liability for debts or crimes;
- you chose a name that is obscene or is a racial slur; or
- you were attempting to mislead, such as by taking the name of a famous person.
Basically, most people tend to change their first names because they were embarrassed by the names they were given by their parents or just for a change and only rarely for the reasons given above. If you want to change your name to something weird or wonderful, that’s fine as long as this doesn’t contravene the rules given above.
If you do decide to change your name, it’s worth planning how you do it. If you do it on a whim, it may be legal, but may not be recognized by your employer, by the IRS, your bank, creditors, utility providers, etc. Just let them know! If you have any problems, talk to an attorney.
OUI, DUI or DWI – Just Don’t Do It!
OUI is the acronym for the law in Massachusetts for ‘operating (a vehicle) under the influence of drugs or alcohol’. In other states it might be called DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated). Those acronyms are in use in Massachusetts as well. They all mean the same.
OUI, DUI or DWI – the laws across all U.S. states are pretty similar. Driving a vehicle or operating a boat after drinking or having taken mind altering drugs can be dangerous and lead to serious or fatal injuries. That’s why every state makes it illegal to be ‘under the influence’ of either too much alcohol or a too much of a drug while driving or operating a boat. The actual laws may be slightly different, particularly the penalties, but not different enough to think you can drink or take drugs without taking precautions. OUI attorneys in Massachusetts might help represent those drivers who have been charged with OUI but always recommend that the easiest way of avoiding being caught is to take a cab or public transport home after drinking, use a dedicated driver who has abstained, or sleep over (e.g. at a friend’s place or at a motel or hotel.
Massachusetts OUI laws are severe. If you have been convicted of OUI, you will be saddled with a criminal conviction. You could face possible jail or prison time, pay a fine, lose license privileges, experience an increase in insurance costs, negative effects on your job, career and promotion prospects.
The OUI criteria are similar to many other states. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of above 0.08% for most adults, 0.04% for commercial license holders, 0.02% for minors could result in a OUI charge. So might behavior that police perceive as ‘under the influence’ or ‘intoxication’ even if the BAC results are less than the criteria stated above. Drug taking doesn’t have the same tests as alcohol, so driving behavior or subjective assessment by police officers is often used instead.
Buying or Selling a Massachusetts Home? Use an Attorney!
In most U.S. states, if you want to buy or sell a house, apartment or other type of property you can usually do this through a real estate agent, or if you can work out how the conveyancing works, by yourself. Massachusetts is one of a small number of states that requires you to use an attorney to do the conveyancing for you, even if you go through a real estate agent. There a lot of good reasons for this state law. The attorney will make sure that the change of ownership is legal and there are no encumbrances such as mortgages or other debts hanging over the property that is changing hands.
In Greater Boston, contact the Law Offices of Richard Mucci if you need an experienced real estate attorney to help you with a real estate sale or purchase.