Baldwin & Briscoe P.C.
301-862-4400
22335 Exploration Drive Ste. 2030
Lexington Park, MD 20653
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Maryland Traffic Tickets – When to Hire an Attorney and When to Do it Yourself

 

  There are many possible violations for which a police officer may write a traffic ticket in the State of Maryland.  In fact, many times when we initially meet with a client, they will have three, four, five, or more tickets arising out of a single incident.  The more serious offenses will often come with more tickets.  Some tickets can be handled without an attorney, but sometimes representing yourself is really not a good idea.  Although hiring an attorney can be expensive, the cost of representing yourself, if you don’t know what you are doing, can be many times higher.  The attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe offer a free consultation on traffic related offenses.

  As a general rule, you may want to represent yourself in court if you are facing a minor traffic violation that carries no points, or that carries two points or less.  In making this decision, you should also take into consideration your existing driving record.  The MVA can require you to attend a driver improvement program after you receive five points.  Your license can be suspended if you get eight points and revoked after twelve points.  If you are facing multiple violations, the MVA will only assess the points for the conviction carrying the highest number of points.

  If you are facing a traffic violation that carries more than two points; if you already have points on your record; or if you are facing any violation that carries a potential jail sentence, you should definitely hire an attorney to represent you.  You should also discuss and consider hiring an attorney to represent you if you are charged with a moving violation arising out of a motor-vehicle accident.  You might also wish to hire an attorney if you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or if you drive for employment purposes on a regular basis.  Points and moving violations can lead to the loss of your driving privileges, increased insurance rates and possibly the loss of a security clearance.

  Points will be assessed against your license if you elect to pay a fine rather than appearing in court on a violation, or if you are convicted in court.  No points will be assessed against your license if you are found not guilty in court, if the case is placed on the stet (inactive) docket, or if you receive a probation before judgment, sometimes referred to as a “pbj”.

   If you are representing yourself in court, you will usually have to decide whether to enter a plea.  For Maryland moving violations, you must request a court trial or a waiver hearing prior to the hearing.  You do this by filing out the portion of the ticket with the hearing request and mailing it in to the address shown on the ticket.  We almost always advise our clients to request a court trial.  You can always enter a plea when you get to court if you request a trial.  If you request a waiving hearing, you have to enter a plea.  The advantage is that if you request a trial, and the officer fails to appear on your court date, you may be able to have the charges dismissed entirely.  If you request a waiving hearing, but change your mind, the court can allow you to get a trial, but in most circumstances you’ll have to come back to court on a different date.

  If you are representing yourself, you’ll have to make a decision whether to enter a plea or have a trial.  Most motor vehicle offenses are what we refer to as “strict liability” offenses.  This means that the reason that you committed the offense is not relevant to your guilt or innocence, but that may be relevant for purposes of mitigation at the disposition of the case. 

  In Maryland, different counties handle traffic violations in different ways.  In Charles County and Calvert County, for instance, a prosecutor or state’s attorney is generally not present for non-jailable violations.  In St. Mary’s County, a prosecutor or someone from the state’s attorney’s office will handle non-jailable violations.  In some counties, you may simply have to make a decision to plead guilty or not guilty to each violation with which you have been charged.  There is no bargaining or offer from the state.  In other counties, the prosecutor may present different options to resolve the case.  These options might include a plea to one or more, but less than all of the violations, an agreement that puts the case on the stet docket or dismiss the case in exchange for community service, a donation to a charity, or some combination thereof.

  A judge has the right to remove points from your record by entering a probation before judgment at the time of your plea.  If the judge offers you a probation before judgment, you will have to waive your right to appeal.  By offering you the probation before judgment, the judge takes away any finding of guilt, thus there is no judgment from which to appeal.  A judge cannot enter a probation before judgment over you objection.  Most judges will condition the granting of a probation before judgment on the performance of community service.  How much community service will depend on the severity of the traffic violation.  It is typical that a judge will award eight hours of community service for each point that a violation would have carried if the court had found you guilty.

  For a list of the points associated with common offenses, check out our article:

http://www.baldwinbriscoe.com/sd/pgs/What-to-Expect-at-a-Motor-Vehicle-Administration-Hearing.aspx

  The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice.  The experienced attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you have received a traffic ticket.  We’d be happy to sit down with you and review your situation and provide appropriate advice.  Call today for your free, no-obligation consultation. 


 


The Law Offices of Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. also offers these services:

Bankruptcy and ForeclosureBusiness LawCivil LitigationCriminal DefenseEmployment, Disability, and Consumer RightsFamily LawGovernment Contracts LawIntellectual Property, Personal InjuryReal Estate, Social Security Disability & Workers’ Compensation and Wills, Trusts, & Estates

 

 

 

 

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The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C.

22335 Exploration Drive

Suite 2030

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-862-4400 Phone

301-862-3009 Fax

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Samuel C.P. Baldwin, Jr., Esq.

Janice Briscoe, Esq.

Richard J. Steinmetz Jr., Esq.

David J. Hebb, Esq.

Sandra Kaufman Jonasen, Esq.


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With an office conveniently located in Lexington Park, The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Stienmetz, P.C. serves clients in the counties and cities of Lexington Park, Leonardtown, Hollywood, Mechanicsville, Loveville, Helen, Breton Bay, Chaptico, Charlotte Hall, Golden Beach, Avenue, La Plata, Waldorf, Newburg, Port Tobacco, Port Charles, Solomons Island, Prince Frederick, Chesapeake Shores, Hughesville, Benedict, Nanjemoy, Lusby, Port Republic, St. Mary's County, Charles County, Calvert County, Prince George's County, Southern Maryland.


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