What do you do… if you get a payable traffic ticket?

Maryland Traffic Ticket Article from Timothy Mitchell, Esq., Attorney

First of all, unless the ticket does not carry any points, you should not pay the ticket.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

A traffic record can affect many different things:

• Insurance
• Employment
• Effect on later tickets on the Court
• Points suspensions by the MVA
• Trouble getting a new license in another State

IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER

If you do receive a payable traffic ticket:

1. Be sure to accept the ticket from the officer!

You can be arrested by the officer if you don’t take the ticket. Trans. Code 26-203.

2. After you get the ticket, request a hearing!  A: The law changed in 2011 which requires you to request a hearing or pay the ticket or the ticket is deemed unpaid. If it is not paid at the expiration of the 30 days, YOUR LICENSE WILL BE SUSPENDED.

3. When to request a hearing?  A: You must request a hearing within 30 days of receiving the ticket.

4. What are your choices in requesting a hearing?  A: You have three options when confronted with a payable traffic citation: (i) paying the fine; (ii) pleading “guilty with an explanation” and appearing for a waiver hearing or (iii) requesting a trial date and appearing for trial.

5. What is my best option? A: Requesting a Trial Date.  The procedure for requesting a trial date is that you must send a request to the Court for a TRIAL. This will require the officer to be present in court if, WITHIN 30 DAYS of receipt of your citation, you check the “Request a Trial” option box on the Return to Court copy and envelope, or the electronic version Option Form, sign, date, and mail it to the District Court of Maryland, PO Box 6676, Annapolis, MD 21401. It may take several weeks for a trial date to be scheduled. If you do not receive a trial date within six weeks, contact the District Court in the county in which you received the ticket.

6. Do I have to go to Court and what are are the different pleas?  A: This is an important.  If you hire a lawyer, you do not need to appear in Court.  An Attorney, such as Mr. Mitchell, who has experience handling traffic cases can appear for you without you having to go.  Either you or the attorney for you may plead either: “guilty” or “not guilty.”  A guilty plea results in the charge becoming a part of your record. In the case of a traffic ticket, The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may assess points on your license.

7. What are the possible verdicts in court?  A:  Judge will either find you “guilty” or “not guilty.” Lowering your fine is at the discretion of the judge. There is a possibility that your fine could be increased, up to a maximum of $500.

8. What is Probation Before Judgment?  A: There is an another alternative verdict after a judge finds you guilty. It is possible for the judge to offer you Probation before judgment, also referred to as a PBJ. What happens is, first the Judge finds the defendant is found guilty. Once the Judge finds the person guilty, the Judge can remove the guilty finding and instead write “Probation Before Judgement.” If the Judge does this, there is no longer a conviction, and there are no points assessed in Maryland on your Maryland driving record.

9. Can I Appeal my verdict?  A: If the judge renders a guilty verdict, you have the right to an appeal. There are non-refundable court costs for filing an appeal. You have the right to an appeal within 30 days of your trial date, if you are found guilty.

10. What happens if I Fail to Appear?  A: If you fail to appear for trial, the MVA will be notified and will take action to suspend your license. Driving on a suspended license is a criminal offense for which you can receive jail time.

11. What about Speed or Red light tickets, can I get points for one?  A: It is important to read the information on the ticket.  As stated on most red light and speed monitoring citations: “Payment of the penalty amount for the violation will not result in points and cannot be used to increase your insurance rates.”

Final things to remember:

First, request your driving record. You can request an instant basic driving record online by going to the MVA Website. In order to get a complete and full driving record, you will need to appear in person.

Second, depending on your record, you may want to plead guilty or not guilty. Judges generally are not lenient on drivers who have any points on their record, or who have had traffic tickets in the past 3-5 years or sometimes longer depending on the judge.

Third, find out if there are any points for your violation and if so, how many you might get if you are found guilty. You can find out by going to the Schedule of Preset Motor Vehicle Fines and/or Penalty Deposits on the Maryland Judiciary Website. You can look up your Code violation and find out the points.

Fourth, if you request a trial, always find out if the officer has shown up. In most courts, the court will dismiss the ticket if the officer is not there. Many times people don’t check and walk up and plead guilty. Some judges will not accept the plea, but others don’t care if the case can’t be proven as a result of the officer not being present.

Finally, and most people don’t realize this: if you are concerned about your driving record, or if you can’t be at the hearing because of work or other reasons, you can hire an attorney to stand in for you. Attorneys can appear for clients in payable traffic tickets and, with the exception of testifying, can do anything the client would have done, including pleading not guilty and having a trial.

Call us at 301-345-9555 for help with your Traffic Tickets or go to our Contact Us Page