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Lexington Park, MD 20653
Maryland Traffic Tickets – When to Hire an Attorney and When to Do
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
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
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”.
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:
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
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.