How should I comply with the ticket – Pay the Fine, Request a Waiver Hearing, or Request a Trial?
When you receive a traffic ticket or speeding ticket in the state of Maryland, you have 30 days to "Comply" with the ticket. Your three options are (1) pay the fine, (2) request a waiver hearing, (3) request a trial.
If you pay the fine amount
You will get a conviction on your driving record and received any points associated with that charge. The fine will be exactly as it is printed on the ticket. (An amount 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.
You are telling the court that the officer who gave you the ticket does not need to be present in court. The court will therefore not subpoena the officer.
A 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. You may be fined up to the statutory maximum for the ticket ($500.00 for most tickets). But, the Judge may also reduce the fine down to zero.
In addition to the fine, you will also have to pay court costs (possibly for each charge). Court costs are currently $25.50 for most tickets.
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. As a result, you don't get points and your insurance company cannot see the ticket.
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, 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.
Want Scott to take a look at your case? Complete the Maryland Traffic Citation Evaluation Request.