When you receive a traffic ticket or speeding ticket in the state of Maryland, you have 30 days to “Comply” with the ticket. You have three options. Pay the fine amount, request a waiver hearing, or request a trial.
If you pay the fine amount
You will automatically receive a Conviction on your driving record and received any points associated with that ticket. The fine will be exactly as it is printed on the ticket, which is an amount that has been predetermined by the chief judge of the District Court of the State of Maryland.
If you request a waiver hearing
You are admitting guilt, and asking to explain the circumstances of the ticket to a judge. By requesting a waiver hearing, you are telling the court that the officer who gave you the ticket does not need to be present in court, so the court will not subpoena the officer. The judge will listen to your explanation and then render his or her decision. The judge is not bound by the fine amount that is listed on the ticket for the citation for citations. The judge can find you up to the statutory maximum for the ticket, which for most minor traffic tickets is $500.00. The judge can also reduce the fine down to zero dollars. You will also have to pay court costs (possibly for each ticket) . Court costs are currently $33.00 for most tickets.
Depending on the circumstances of the ticket, and your driving record, the judge may grant you what is called a Probation Before Judgment (commonly called a “PBJ”). A PBJ keeps the ticket off of your public driving record so your insurance company cannot see it and you don’t get any points. A PBJ does go on a separate driving record that is viewable only by the courts, law enforcement, your attorney, and yourself.
If you request a trial
This is the option I almost universally recommend. By requesting a trial, you are telling the court that you want the State to produce its witnesses (the police officer and possibly any other civilian witnesses) and prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge finds you not guilty, then it is like the ticket never happened. There are no fines, no court costs, and nothing is entered on your driving record.
If the judge finds that there is enough evidence to find you guilty, then you proceed to sentencing, just like if you requested a waiver hearing. Just because you requested trial does not mean that on the trial date you can’t plead guilty and have what would be the same thing as a waiver hearing.
If you would like Scott to take a look at your case, fill out the Traffic Ticket Evaluation Form and Scott will review your case and get back to you.