A lot of drivers are tempted to blow off traffic tickets. We’ve heard a lot of excuses:
- I’ll just plead guilty and pay the fine.
- Court hearings take time and I’ll probably lose.
- If I hire a lawyer, I’ll have to pay the lawyer a fee.
- Why bother? Just pay the fine and be done with it.
The truth is that it is not that simple. There are many consequences of traffic tickets to consider in addition to the fine, and a lot of good reasons to fight the charges. Your insurance can go up. You could lose your license. In some cases, such as DUI charges, you could be charged with a crime that could result in imprisonment. There are many ways that a lawyer earns his fee – and then some – by asserting your defenses, working to negotiate a better resolution, and explaining all the ways a guilty plea affects your driving privileges. Trust us when we say, you really don’t want to do this alone.
What are the two types of traffic offenses in Maryland?
Traffic offenses are considered either payable traffic offenses or offenses that do require a court appearance.
Offenses that require a court appearance – ones that could result in a criminal record and jail time – include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Driving while your license is suspended
- Fleeing the police
If your offense requires you to appear in court, you should consult with a lawyer because your freedom may be at stake. For example, a conviction of even a first-time DUI can result in up to one year in jail and a first-time DWI can result in up to two months in jail.
Traffic offenses that are considered “payable” offenses generally do not involve the possibility of imprisonment. The tickets can be paid by pleading guilty and paying the amount on the ticket. Alternatively, you can contest the ticket with the help of an experienced Annapolis traffic lawyer.
What are the various types of traffic offenses in Maryland?
There are many different types of traffic offenses for violating the Maryland Rules of the Road. Traffic offenses include:
- Violating traffic signs, signals, and markings
- Right-of-way violations
- Violations involving driving on the right side of the road, overtaking and passing, and the use of the roadway
- Turning, stopping, and starting violations
- Speed restrictions
Within each category of violations, there are subcategories. For example, speeding restrictions include violating maximum speed limits, speed limits in school zones, highway work zone speed limits, and other speeding violations.
What are the consequences for a payable traffic offense in Annapolis or Ellicott City?
If you are found guilty or plead guilty to any traffic violation, the penalties include:
- The conviction will be noted on your Maryland driving record – which will likely be available to other states if you ever decide to move or if you were an out-of-state driver.
- You will be assessed points. Examples of point assessments include (but are not limited to):
- 2 points for following too closely or going 10 mph or more over the posted speed limit.
- 3 points for failing to stop for a school vehicle with activated alternately flashing red lights.
- 5 points for going 30 mph or more over the posted speed limit or aggressive driving.
- 6 points for reckless driving.
- 12 points for failing to stop after an accident resulting in bodily injury or death
According to DMV.org, If you have:
- 3 points, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) will send you a warning letter
- 5 points, the MVA will require that you enroll in a Driver Improvement Program (DIP).
- 8 to 11 points, the MVA will suspend your license.
- 12 points or more, the MVA will revoke your license.
If your license is suspended or revoked, you will not be able to drive which means you will need to use public transportation, pay for private transportation, and ask your family for rides. The cost to pay for public or private transportation can be very expensive – often many times more than the fine you will pay.
Every time you acquire points, your insurance carrier will examine your driving record. Insurance companies regularly raise your premiums for three years for each traffic violation. For example, if your rates increase $100 a month, that means you will have to pay another $3,600 in premiums.
If your job depends on driving for a living such as making deliveries or conducting sales, you may lose your ability to earn a living.
How can an Annapolis lawyer help you contest a traffic violation?
Our skilled Annapolis and Ellicott traffic violation lawyer helps by defending you at the traffic citation hearing and at the MVA hearing.
At the traffic citation hearing, we contest the evidence the police present. This includes cross-examining the police officer and presenting your version of the events. It also includes contesting the validity of any radar or other equipment. We may introduce witnesses or show that there are explanations for your driving conduct. We also assert any legal defenses that apply.
Many times, we are able to obtain a dismissal or an acquittal. Often, we are able to negotiate a reduction in the charges, with the police officer, to a traffic offense with fewer points.
At the MVA hearing, we challenge whether the government can prove any prior violations. We seek expungement of any violations based on the time that has elapsed since your last violation and your driving record. Expungements are available for many drivers. We explain when points can be removed from your record. Generally, points are removed after two years. Convictions can be expunged depending on the various factors.
We also seek approval for a restricted driver’s license. Maryland permits restricted driver’s licenses (for eligible drivers) if you need to drive to work, to school, to religious activities, and for other reasons.
At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, our experienced Annapolis and Ellicott City traffic violation lawyer has more than two decades of experience fighting for in-state and out-of-state drivers. Our respected criminal defense lawyer often saves clients money because the value of an acquittal, dismissal, or plea reduction is usually more than the cost of higher insurance premiums, the fines, and the cost of alternate transportation. To discuss your traffic citation defenses and options, call us at 410-271-1892 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.
And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.