Ticketed in Maryland: What Are Your Options?

July 26, 2010

Once the ticket has been written, you have two easy steps you can take: Pay the ticket or appear in court.

Police Officer

When you are issued a ticket and the officer checks the “Notice to Appear” box, you have three of the following options:

  • Plead “guilty” and pay the fine. Be aware however, that a plea of guilt results in the charge becoming part of your driving record. You have 15 days to pay the ticket. If the ticket is not paid within 15 days, you will automatically receive a trial date set by the court.
  • Wait for trial notice and appear in court. At trial, you and the officer that issued the ticket have the opportunity to appear in court and testify in front of a judge. If you are found guilty, you have the right to an appeal within 30 days. If you do not appear at your trial, the Motor Vehicle Administration will suspend your driver’s license.
  • Plead “guilty with an explanation”. This option gives you the opportunity for a hearing. At the hearing you can request that the fine be reduced or waived.

“Must appear” tickets are given for more serious infractions, such as, driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, driving on a suspended license, etc. , according to the District Court of Maryland.

The Maryland General Assembly has passed a new law that will come into effect on January 1, 2011. This new law requires anyone who wants a trial to formally request one. The state will no longer automatically send you a trial date notice for a traffic violation. Once the law goes into effect, you have 30 days to respond by either, paying the fine, requesting a hearing or requesting a trial date. When you request a trial date, the District Court will give you a date and time to show up in court, in front of a judge. You may bring witnesses and any evidence to prove your case.

The previous law was changed because the courts were receiving complaints from various jurisdictions about officers wasting time appearing at trials where the defendants did not appear. The new law states that failure to take one of the above options means the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) can and will suspend your license.

Teen Drivers Risks Higher in the Summer in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia

July 19, 2010

Teen Driver

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the USA. The deadliest time is the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day for drivers between the ages of 15-20. It is during this time that teens are out of school, have more free time under less parental supervision and have more opportunities to drive at night, when the road risks are higher and their curfews later in the night. Inexperience and Immaturity are the two main factors in teen auto crashes.

Justin McNaull, state relations director for auto club AAA states that, “For many kids, every day in the summer is a weekend day.” During the summer teens are less supervised by their parents and allowed more freedom, when it comes to driving. Teenagers also do more purposeless driving, which are more dangerous. Driving at 10pm is different than driving at 7am. The deadliest hours for teens are the hours between 10pm to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. It is because of their inexperience and immaturity that they tend to maneuver turns carelessly and rear-end other vehicles more frequently, and when you add the fact that they are doing this more at night it becomes even more dangerous.

States and Highway safety officials try to reach out to young drivers, as well as their parents, before the end of the school year to remind them to exercise caution while driving during summer vacation. The Washington Regional Alcohol Program, a non-profit group battling drunken driving and underage drinking in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, warns parents of the hazards of summer driving through media and parent-teacher organizations. According to this organization, during the summer months there are about 50% more drink driving deaths involving teens than any other time of the year.

Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia have implemented laws specifically for teens. Two of the laws implemented are the “Click it or Ticket” and “Seat Belt Laws”, which push seat belt usage for teens. Other than what the states can do, parents also need to be more responsible during the summer months for their children.