When drivers are charged with speeding, running a red light, or any traffic violation; there are normally two cases. The first is the traffic citation charge which can result in a fine and court costs. In some cases, the driver may even face jail time. Car owners who drive without the minimum driver’s insurance or who accumulate too many driving citations can be sentenced to jail.
The traffic court only hears the criminal part of the case – were you guilty of failing to yield, driving on a suspended license, racing, or any other traffic offense? Ideally your case is dismissed because the police couldn’t prove their case. In many cases, skilled Annapolis lawyers can negotiate a reduction to lesser charges.
As the classic saying goes, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. The traffic citation case is usually followed by a notice from the Motor Vehicle Administration for a second hearing. The second hearing is to decide how to handle the points you accumulated and what happens to your driving privileges if you were found guilty of a DUI. For most traffic citations, each traffic offense means that points will be added to your driving record. Points are generally assigned for moving violations, not parking violations.
How points are assessed
A lower point total is assessed on violations such as failing to use a turn signal, speeding tickets if you were going just a few miles over the speed limit, and not stopping at a stop sign. More points are assessed if you drove while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or drove without insurance.
Maryland generally assesses points as follows:
- 3 to 4 points. You are sent a warning letter by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA)
- 5 to 7 points. You will need to enroll in a driver improvement program
- 8 to 11 points. Your license will be suspended
- 12 points or more. Your license will be revoked
Getting points on your record will mean your insurance premiums go up. If you can’t drive due to a suspension or revocation of your license, you may lose your job or will need to spend a fortune on public or private transportation.
Drivers do have the right to contest the assessment of points or a suspension/revocation determination. In some cases, the state may not have the correct records or may not have the record that your citation was reduced. You have the right to show that previous points should have been removed from your record. If you’ve never had a license suspension or revocation, then points for moving violations should be expunged after three years. Other expungement periods apply depending on the offense and your driving record.
If you were found guilty of a DUI, the MVA hearing will also review whether you should be required to use an interlock ignition device (IID). The IID device measures your blood alcohol through a breath test. If you past the test, the IID lets you drive. If you fail, the ignition won’t start.
If you refused to give a breath test, your license can be suspended even if you weren’t convicted of the DUI charge. At the MVA hearing, defense lawyers can challenge whether the police had authority to stop your vehicle and the authority to arrest you. The police also do need to show they explained the consequences for failing a breath or chemical test.
Another possibility for traffic offense defendants is that you can obtain a restricted license. This license enables a driver to go to work or school and drive home. Drivers can’t use their vehicle for other purposes such as food shopping or going to a hockey game.
At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, we have been helping drivers accused of traffic offenses for nearly 20 years. We understand how critical it is for your work, your family, and yourself to be able to drive. In many cases, the expense of a defense lawyer is much less than the expense of fines, increased premiums, and the cost to hire other drivers to take you to work or elsewhere.
And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.