Speeding and Minor Traffic Tickets
Each week, thousands of people pay tickets for minor traffic violations, or go to court without representation. For many, life may go on as usual after paying the fines. For others, it can be the first step in a long chain of adverse consequences. When a driver in Maryland gets a ticket, the citation may only indicate what the preset fine is. This is the fine you can pay to avoid going to court. But there is a lot of important information that the citation does not tell you.
For example, most moving violations come with “points.” Driving in Maryland from one to nine miles over the speed limit is one point; 10 to 29 miles over is 2 points; and 30 miles over the speed limit is 5 points. Maryland statutes establish different point values for different violations of the transportation code. Additional points are assigned to moving violations that contributed to a collision. A Maryland driver who accumulates five or more points within a two year period could begin to suffer penalties from the MVA, including driver license suspension and revocation.
If the driver holds a provisional license, payment of a ticket, a finding of guilty, or a probation before judgment disposition for any moving violation will trigger additional penalties by the MVA. It will also delay the time it takes to convert the license from a provisional license to a full license. Additional violations during this time period can result in the suspension of the driver’s license. Routine or minor traffic violations also can have serious implications for drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license. Also, be aware that certain moving violations that do not carry the possibility of jail time in State court could result in jail time, in some circumstances, if prosecuted in federal court.
Minor traffic tickets can also have serious implications for related civil lawsuits. For example, if a driver collides with another vehicle, injuring the driver and passengers, everything that the defendant says in court for that minor traffic ticket is recorded and can later be used against the defendant for the civil lawsuit.
There are several difficulties people run into when trying to handle a minor traffic ticket on their own. First, a person may not know what is involved in requesting a court date and going to court. Second, there are often no prosecutors assigned to minor traffic dockets. So, there is no one there to speak to for the purpose of negotiating a resolution or compromise. Additionally, many people believe they have a defense or explanation that seems like it should be helpful, but really is not. Often people say things to judges that actually make the situation worse or provoke an angry response.
On the other hand, citations are written very quickly by officers out in the field. Many are charged incorrectly. In court, officers sometimes fail to testify to important facts that are necessary to establish guilt. An attorney won't let a judge fill in or gloss over the missing pieces. Also, the correct witnesses don’t always get summonsed to court or appear in court. Many people also do not realize that for most minor traffic offenses in Maryland, an attorney can appear in court without the defendant/driver, thus, avoiding the need to take off time from work or school. If you are concerned that your minor ticket may turn into a bigger problem, please give us a call.