Types of Traffic Offenses in Maryland
In Maryland, there are different types of traffic offenses, and, therefore, different penalties involved and different ways to resolve each offense. For example, a payable offense would be resolved in a very different way than a must-appear offense.
Due to the varying circumstances of each case, it is very important that a person facing any traffic offense contacts a Maryland traffic lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that they have a firm understanding of the penalties of their charge, as well as what steps they will need to take in order to resolve their case. Although an attorney may be more involved in some types of traffic offenses than others, they can be a helpful guide in every case.
Types of Charges
In Maryland, a person can be charged with a traffic infraction, misdemeanor, or felony.
A traffic infraction is any violation listed in the Maryland Transportation Article and is considered the least serious type of violation. The Maryland Transportation Article is a list of laws which must be followed. An example of a traffic infraction is speeding. For traffic infractions, penalties never include any jail time.
A traffic misdemeanor is any violation of the Maryland Transportation Article, unless there is a civil penalty or unless the misdemeanor is increased to a felony. Misdemeanors carry a potential penalty of jail time. Most traffic violations are misdemeanors and carry a penalty of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
There are specific violations in the Transportation Article designated as felonies. What distinguishes a felony is that the possible jail sentence is higher than a misdemeanor. Some examples of a traffic felony include a DUI where someone is killed or automobile manslaughter.
There are two different types of traffic offenses in Maryland. The first one is a payable offense and the second one is a must-appear offense. Payable offenses are minor traffic offenses, while must-appear are more serious traffic offenses.
Payable traffic violation examples include a speeding ticket, running a stop sign, and improper turning. These are tickets to which a person can plead guilty and pay a fine and the individual does not have to appear in court. Payable traffic tickets are not punishable by jail time.
With a payable traffic ticket, there are three options. The person can pay the fine, plead guilty with an explanation and request a waiver hearing, or they can plead not guilty or request a trial. If they do not pay the fine, they have to request a waiver hearing or a trial and must appear in person. With any of the three options, the person must respond within 30 days or the Maryland Vehicle Administration is notified and the person’s license may be suspended.
Must-appear traffic offenses are more serious and there is potential for the person to be incarcerated. Examples of must-appear traffic offenses are DUIs, fleeing and evading the police, and leaving the scene of an accident or driving while suspended, or both. If a person is charged with a must-appear traffic offense, they cannot just pay the fines. Instead, they must appear in court on the date and time listed on a notice, which will be received in the mail.
Hiring an Attorney
It is important to hire a local Maryland traffic attorney because such an attorney can have the experience of handling several types of traffic offenses in Maryland, meaning that he or she is in traffic courts numerous times per week. Due to this, the attorney will know how to minimize the penalties associated with a person’s traffic offense, which may include keeping the points off of their driver’s record.
Additionally, it is important for a person to hire a lawyer whenever they receive a traffic citation so that they may explore other options besides paying the citation and automatically suffering the consequences. An attorney would be especially helpful for individuals who must appear in court since they could effectively argue the person’s case in front of the judge.