In Maryland, if you commit a motor vehicle violation, it will fall into one of two categories. It will either be the kind of case for which you can receive a sentence of incarceration, or it will not. Violations that carry jail time are commonly referred to as “incarcerable” or “serious” offenses. Those that don’t are called “payable” or “minor”. Incarcerable traffic tickets are also referred to as “must appears” because that is what is written in place of the fine on the citation. Regardless of the type of ticket you’ve received, you face the potential of fines, points, MVA sanctions, and possibly other collateral consequences if you are on parole, probation or are not a U.S. citizen.
Payable traffic citations include offenses like speeding, red light infractions and turning without signaling. While there is no possibility of incarceration for these types of violations, points may be assessed against your driving record, causing increased insurance rates, and possibly suspension or revocation of your driving privilege.
If you have been charged with a payable traffic citation there should be a fine listed on your ticket. Your options upon receiving the ticket are to either pay the fine or request a court date. The amount of the fine is pre-set, meaning the officer who issues the ticket has no discretion to raise or lower the fine. If you go to court, however, the judge has wide latitude to increase or decrease the amount of the fine if you are found guilty. Almost all payable traffic citations have a maximum fine of $500, and the pre-set amount is solely there as an option if you are not willing or not able to appear in court. If you simply pay the preset amount you are admitting guilt and your driving record will be noted. If you request a court date you can either request a trial, or simply request an opportunity to present mitigation to the judge in hopes reducing the fine or avoiding points on your license.
If you take no action at all, a court date will NOT be set for you and the Maryland MVA will take steps to suspend your license or privilege to drive. This is true even if you do not have a Maryland license.
Just as the police are not authorized to reduce or increase fines, they also have no control over whether points will be assessed to your driving record for offenses. If you pay a fine by mail for an offense that carries points, the MVA WILL assess those points to your record. To find the pre-set fines and points for each traffic offense you can access the police officers’ APoints Book@ by following this link.
Our firm can help you if you’ve been charged with a Payable Traffic offense in several important ways. First, we can explain the various options available to you, and the pros and cons of each. Second, we can go to court to stand trial with you. Many people forget that as the person charged it is not your responsibility to prove that you are innocent, it is the duty of the State to prove that you are guilty. Before you can be found guilty the State must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and we will force them to meet their burden. Third, we can go to court and argue for leniency on your behalf. By presenting a case to the judge that highlights the positive aspects of your life and your driving habits, we can urge the judge to impose a sentence that limits the harm to your driving record in appropriate cases. Fourth, we can go to court in your stead. Maryland law allows in Payable Traffic cases, a lawyer to appear on your behalf, sparing you from the stress or inconvenience of attending court.
The MVA has the authority to suspend your driver’s license for a number of reasons. For example, they can suspend your license for refusing to take a breathalyzer test, or for taking one and having a reading above .08, for receiving too many traffic violations, or many other reasons too numerous to list here.
In any case where the MVA is seeking to suspend or revoke your license you are entitled to due process, that is, an opportunity to fight the suspension or revocation. If you have a hearing, it will be before an Administrative Judge from the Office of Administrative Hearings.
If you have received a notice that the MVA intends to suspend your license, act now, do not wait, because inaction will always lead to the loss of your license; you must be proactive to protect your privilege to drive in Maryland. Contact our office immediately if you receive a letter from the MVA threatening to suspend or revoke your license.
Driving is not a right, but a privilege allowed by the issuing State. Failure to comply with the law may result in that privilege being taken away.
Incercerable traffic cases are far more serious than payable traffic cases.If you have been charged with an incarcerable traffic offense, you cannot simply pay out the ticket, or send a lawyer on your behalf. These offenses carry possible jail sentences and often will result in very high points on your driving record. These offenses include: drunk driving, hit and run, eluding police, driving suspended, driving without a license and driving an uninsured vehicle.
Representation in these cases is crucial. A competent attorney can examine your case for possible defenses, work with you to guide you toward applicable programs, and recommend actions which will help make a favorable impression on the judge if you are found guilty.
Because of the gravity of the consequences, and the possibility of defenses we must recommend that if you have been charged with any offense that carries incarceration you should consult a lawyer immediately ---- Your freedom and your privilege to drive may depend on it.
For specific information about the potential ramifications of these charges you must meet with an attorney and discuss the facts and circumstances of the case.