Let’s Bust Some Maryland Traffic Ticket MythsThe world is full of harmless myths and superstitions, local legends, things like Mothmen and Big Feet. Largely, these are just fun ways to make sense of the world and one can believe in them for their whole lives without being negatively affected. But, uh…when it comes to myths about the law, you just get arrested (or fined into the next century, legally speaking). Depending on where you are, the officer may indeed believe you were speeding because you were running from a Sasquatch, but that’s still not a guarantee that you’ll get let go with a warning.

Trust me, you want to know the law, especially the laws of the road if you’re a driver of any sort. You want to know how it works, what your rights are, and — perhaps more importantly in some ways — what WON’T work. Thanks to popular culture, there are numerous misconceptions out there about how one can theoretically get out of a ticket or argue out of a conviction without an attorney, and wrongfully believing these myths is absolutely not a defense that will hold up in court. You want to know the law because you NEED to know the law, and because finding out the hard way is really darn hard — even if it’s a “minor” traffic violation.

Common traffic violation misconceptions

Now, look, I’ll be honest — some of these myths we’re going to discuss are downright ridiculous. I’m not saying you deserve what you get if you tell a cop you were speeding because you’re secretly Batman, but common sense needs to kick in at some point. If not before the ticket, at least before you try to deal with it yourself. I promise not to laugh at you (to your face).

That being said, there ARE plenty of reasonable myths out there that are popular enough you may simply never think to question their validity — especially if they make sense. While common sense can help you avoid a lot of heartache with the law, not all of it is intuitive. Research is paramount to avoiding a sticky situation as much as one reasonably can. And hey, if you’re reading this, it counts! Good for you!

Let’s explore some common traffic violation myths, both of the ridiculous variety and the reasonable, and find out what the actual legal truth is. This is not a comprehensive list, and is no replacement for searching Maryland’s official websites for legal statutes (or talking to me directly about it). First, the reasonable myths and their actual truths:

  • Refusing to sign a ticket will get the charge dropped. TRUTH: It will get you arrested. Signing a ticket is not admitting guilt; it’s confirming you received the ticket and understand your options. Sign the ticket.
  • The ticket will be dismissed if there is any sort of error on it. TRUTH: Unless the error is egregious like listing the wrong driver or vehicle, the court does not care. Typos are nothing.
  • The ticket will be dismissed if the officer doesn’t show up in court. TRUTH: No.
  • Passing a vehicle and/or matching traffic is a valid reason to speed. TRUTH: Again, no. There is just no valid reason to speed in the eyes of the law — and do not admit to speeding!
  • Traffic tickets are just simple fines; you don’t have to go to court. TRUTH: Sometimes, but not always. Some severe traffic violations like DUIs, driving with a suspended/revoked license, fleeing the scene of an accident, or running from the police all require you to go to court and face serious criminal consequences. Also, even a simple fine for parking in the wrong spot puts points on your license, which can make life a lot more difficult if you accumulate enough. Speaking of…
  • Points on your license are no big deal. TRUTH: They stick around for years, so you have plenty of time to catch more, and it can result in the loss of your license and the astronomical raising of your insurance premiums.
  • Excuses can get you out of a ticket. TRUTH: Listen…yeah, sometimes if you catch a cop in a good mood and you have a valid excuse for whatever it is you were doing, they’ll let you go with a warning. But you should not rely on this happening and you absolutely should not smugly assume it WILL happen if you get pulled over. Intend to cooperate fully. Cops have certain rules they need to follow at traffic stops and breaking them may help your case in court, but wait until you’re with legal professionals to bring that up.
  • Flirting can get you out of a ticket. TRUTH: Rarely. It is likelier to just piss them off and make you look weird.
  • Getting convicted of a traffic violation won’t be noticeable. TRUTH: Your driving record is public record, buddy. Anyone can see everything, and people like employers, landlords, insurance agents, and car dealers will absolutely be looking. And they will absolutely care.
  • You can represent yourself in court. TRUTH: Look at me. Look at me in my virtual eyes. Get as close to this screen as you can; I don’t care who’s watching. Listen to me very, very carefully: NO YOU CANNOT. You are technically legally ABLE to do so, but you never, ever should. It will not save you money in the long run. You are not the wittiest person the judge has ever met. Law & Order bingeing is NOT — I repeat, NOT — actual law school. Get. An. Attorney. You cannot talk your way out of a ticket OR a conviction and you should not ever try.

Now that we got all that serious stuff out of the way, let’s take a look at some ridiculous myths that — spoiler alert — also won’t work in real life. I’m not going to bother providing truths for these, frankly. If you wholeheartedly believe any of these, just…call me. Just call me. Even if you haven’t been charged with anything yet. You will be.

  • You can just drive away when threatened with a ticket.
  • Try to gaslight the officer into thinking HE was the one speeding.
  • Jedi mind trick.
  • Blackmail the officer.
  • When handed the ticket, you can just say “no thank you!”
  • If you outsmart the judge, they will shake your hand and drop all charges and give you keys to the city.

The bottom line through all this is you need to know how to behave when you’re pulled over and you need to understand the rights you actually have, or you could land in serious hot water over relatively minor charges. Even if you used a “ridiculous” excuse, you can still save yourself a lot of trouble by hiring a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Your Annapolis criminal defense attorney is here for a reason

An attorney knows how to actually argue for your freedom and your rights, AND they can help with the MVA hearing you likely need, AND they can gather facts and evidence you simply wouldn’t have access to as a civilian. Nothing being brought against you is immune to legal questioning and fighting, but it isn’t easy to do. It requires vigorous research, fact-finding, and a knowledge of the law on an intimate level one can only gain with actual experience. No matter what your situation is, your case benefits from having an actual criminal defense attorney on your side.

If you’re here in Annapolis or Ellicott City and you’re facing a traffic violation of any sort, you can trust Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, to represent you with the tenacity and experience you need. As a traffic violation and criminal defense attorney, I can answer any and all of your questions and figure out the tailored defense most suited to your case’s needs. Don’t wait. Pick up the phone or use my contact form, and let’s beat this together — even if you told the cops you’re Batman.

Just remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!