Traffic Violations in Maryland
There is much more to a traffic violation than just writing a check and moving on. Each violation will add points to your driving record, which can result in a higher insurance premium. And some violations considered “severe” by the state can lead to heavy fines, suspension of your license, and even time behind bars.
Having a driver’s license imposes a “duty of care” on you as the vehicle’s operator. Any negligent act that leads to property damage or injury to others can result in liability on your part, both civil and criminal, depending on the circumstances.
Maryland observes what is called “at fault” auto insurance standards. If you purchase just the basic policy, you could find yourself being sued if someone is injured and your policy doesn’t cover their medical expenses and other damages, such as wages lost from missing work. The state can also impose heavy penalties for any traffic violations involved in what happened.
If you’ve received a traffic violation in Maryland, contact the legal team at Steven T. Greenblat, Attorney at Law. We will discuss the matter and inform you of the best route going forward.
It is advised to fight the ticket rather than just shrugging it off as a normal consequence of owning a vehicle, especially if it’s a misdemeanor or felony citation. We proudly serve clients throughout the State of Maryland.
Traffic Violations in Maryland
As in all states, Maryland divides traffic violations between moving and non-moving, and moving violations can be minor or severe. Minor violations can often be cleared by paying a fine and then suffering whatever points are added to your driving record. Severe violations, however, can result in major civil and/or criminal penalties and obviously need to be challenged in court and even in administrative actions by the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).
Non-moving violations include parking in a no-parking zone or with an expired parking meter; parking in front of a driveway; operating your vehicle with an expired or no license plate; having no proof of insurance; having broken headlights or tail lights; or operating your vehicle without your seat belt on.
Moving violations include but are not limited to breaking the speed limit; driving while impaired or intoxicated; running a stop sign; tailgating; failing to yield the right of way; fleeing the scene in a hit and run; and causing vehicular manslaughter.
Felony/Severe vs. Misdemeanor Violations and Traffic Infractions
Even misdemeanor traffic violations can lead to incarceration, fines, and other penalties, but the punishment is often assessed based on certain factors: the extent of damage, victim status, the circumstances of the crime, and the prior conviction record of the offender. Misdemeanor violations include:
Driving while impaired
Driving without a license
Driving without insurance
Driving without registering a vehicle with the Motor Vehicle Administration
Driving under the influence
Driving with a suspended, revoked, or canceled license
Cell phone violations
Negligent driving leading to a casualty
Felony violations embrace:
Hit and run
Driving while impaired or under the influence (if a repeat offense)
Driving under the influence, leading to the loss of life
Traffic infractions, on the other hand, do not carry the potential for a jail sentence and are noncriminal actions and generally result only in a fine. Infractions include:
Driving without wearing a safety belt
Driving without the use of a proper child restraint
Failing to yield the right-of-way
Driving with expired license plates
Violating a traffic control device
Exceeding the approved speed limit
Failing to wear an approved helmet while driving a motorcycle
Consequences of a Traffic Violation: Fines and More
There are two types of tickets in Maryland: payable and must appear. Payable means there is no need to appear in court, just pay the fine. Must-appear tickets are issued for misdemeanor and felony traffic offenses, meaning you will end up before a judge. For payable offenses, there are kiosks for remitting the fine. Fines can also be paid online, by phoning in with a debit or credit card, or by mail.
While running a red light or stop sign can lead to a fine of up to $130, driving with a revoked license can cost you up to $1,000, and a hit and run resulting in injuries can result in a fine of $5,000 to $10,000.
Paying the fine equates to a guilty plea, but the person with the violation can also offer an explanation in the process in hopes of reducing the fine or getting it waived. As a result, the conviction may even reduce to probation. A guilty plea or conviction will become part of your criminal record, something you definitely want to avoid.
Fighting a Traffic Violation
If your ticket is for more than an infraction, for instance for a misdemeanor or felony, you’re probably going to want to mount a defense. You have 30 days after being ticketed to plead not guilty and request a trial date. You’re going to need the legal counsel and representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney, for what you’re facing in a misdemeanor or felony offense is basically a criminal trial.
Your defense attorney can help you challenge the evidence against you. For instance, your attorney can dispute the ticketing officer’s testimony and question the circumstances of the arrest, even asserting a lack of probable cause. Your attorney can also argue that your actions in the situation were justified and that any reasonable person in your situation would act in the same way.
Before the trial date, your attorney can present your side of the argument and the details of what happened in your remembrance to authorities in hopes of lowering or even dropping the charges.
If you plead guilty or are convicted, the result will become part of a criminal record that can haunt you for a long time, to say nothing of what the points added to your driving record will do to your insurance premium if your policy is not canceled outright.
All Counties in Maryland
If you’re facing a costly or serious traffic violation in Maryland, contact the legal team at Steven T. Greenblat, Attorney at Law. We can evaluate your situation, advise you of your best legal options and then fight with you for the best possible result. Too much is at stake to leave it to chance or to think you can handle everything yourself.