Q:  What is a civil fine?

A:  A civil fine is a monetary fine that may be assessed for a violation of certain statutes and regulations as an alternative to criminal proceedings.

Q:  What types of violations of the Architectural Access Board’s regulations can result in fines?

A:  Any violation of 521 CMR, including violations related to: failure to maintain accessibility features; jurisdiction; retail establishments, commercial buildings, restaurants and transient lodging facilities; public common use space within multiple dwellings; care facilities: educational, medical care, and detention facilities; places of assembly and houses of worship; transportation terminals; accessible recreation facilities; accessible route, including: an unobstructed path, curb cuts, walkway accessibility, ramps, doorway accessibility, stairs, etc.; parking and passenger loading zone; elevators, including, service to every floor, operation accessibility, wheelchair lifts; public toilet, bathing, and dressing, changing, and fitting rooms; kitchens, including: clear space requirements, sinks, countertops, etc.; storage; tables and seating; public convenience, including: drinking fountains, telephones, ATMs; controls, alarms and

Q:  Who may issue or assess fines?

A:  Fines may be issued and assessed by the Commissioner, the Commissioner’s designee, or other authorized persons such as certain authorized inspectors. See M.G.L. c. 22 § 22.

Q:  How much can I be fined?

A:  For the first offense you can either be given a warning, or fined up to $1,000 per violation; for the second offense you can be fined anywhere ranging from $1,000 - $3,000 per violation; and for the third offense and any subsequent offenses you can be fined anywhere ranging from $3,000 - $5,000.  These fine ranges are applicable to all offenses unless specifically stated to be different.

Q:  Will an individual be subject to a subsequent offense fine for a violation occurring before the appeal deadline?

A:  No, a subsequent offense fine will not be issued until the preceding fine has been adjudicated through the appeals process.

Q:  If I am issued a fine by the Department of Public Safety, how long can that offense be used for the purpose of determining whether a subsequent offense fine will be issued?

A:  Subsequent offenses may be considered for a period of up to three years from the date of the initial offense in determining the penalty for a second or third offense. 

Q:  What factors are considered when determining the amount of the fine?

A:  The following factors may be considered by the Department of Public Safety and/or the authorized designee in determining the amount of the penalty:  the willfulness of the violation; previous violations resulting in the imposition of penalties; whether the violation resulted in an accident involving bodily injury or death; the actual or potential danger posed to the public; whether the violator had done everything reasonable to attempt to comply with the law or regulation; whether imposition of the penalty is likely to deter future noncompliance; and the interests of public safety.

Q:  When is payment of a fine due?

A:  Unless an appeal is timely filed, payment of a fine is due within 120 days of receipt of the notice of violation.  Failure to pay or appeal any violation within the 120 day time period will result in the Department referring all outstanding debts to the Office of the State Comptroller which is authorized to initiate collection proceedings in accordance with M.G.L. c. 7A, § 3; M.G.L. c. 7A, § 18 and 815 CMR 9.00.

Q:  Can I appeal the notice of fine?

A:  Yes, written requests for an administrative appeal must be filed with the Department on the appropriate form within 120 days of receipt of the notice of violation.  Warnings are not subject to appeal.