Anatomy of a Maryland Traffic Ticket
There is quite a bit of information that will be included on a Maryland traffic ticket. The following is to give a person a better understanding of what is included on the ticket, as well as how to interpret the various abbreviations and sections of the ticket. For a person to learn more about how to fight the charges they are accused of, they should contact a Maryland speeding ticket lawyer.
Maryland Uniform Complaint and Citations Summons
This section of the citation will include a person’s full name, current address, height, weight, gender, birth date, driver’s license number, license state, license plate number, and license plate state, as well as their vehicle’s year, make, model, type, and color, the violation date and time, location of the incident, and the specific charge for which they are being cited in the corresponding Maryland statutes.
This information ensures that the individual and the citation are accurately reported to a District Court traffic processing center and the Maryland MVA.
Additionally, in order for a citation to be a valid charging document, accurate identification information must be included to show that the person was indeed the violator, as well as specific information about the incident so that they are put on notice as to the charges.
Meanings of the Abbreviations
There are several variations included on the citation. In regards to personal injury (P.I.), this box is checked if an accident was involved. The officer will indicate the seriousness of the injury by using a code for either:
- No bodily injury
- Possible bodily injury
- Personal injury
- Serious bodily injury, and
Additionally, if the individual being fined contributes to an accident or was the cause of the accident, that box is checked. If the accident involves property damage, the P.D. box is checked. If the required safety belts are not used, that box is checked. If the violator’s vehicle is placarded or required to be placarded for hazardous materials, the HAZMAT box is checked off. Any vehicle which is placarded for hazardous materials is deemed a commercial vehicle and a letter “C” should be written in the vehicle check-box.
The CDL yes-or-no boxes refer to whether the violator has a commercial driver’s license. If the violator contributed to an accident which resulted in a fatal injury, the fatal accident field is checked. The A/R SUSP REV seal corresponds to whether the violator’s license was suspended or revoked for an alcohol offense.
Purpose of the Numbered Section
At the bottom of the citation, the officer will cite the violation charged along with the corresponding Maryland Transportation Article statutes. If there are multiple criminal charges, there will be a numbered list of each charge.
Each charge differs in severity and will come with five points and/or jail time, such as speeding, driving without a license, failing to obey a traffic device, unsafe lane changing, following a vehicle too closely, driving under the influence, and failure to stop at a stop sign.
The dollar amount indicated next to a charge is the preset fine amount which a violator can pay to resolve the citation. The violator may simply pay the listed amount or request a hearing at a Maryland District Court. However, if a hearing is not requested, the fine amount listed must be paid.
Summons to Appear Section
This section advises the violator of the next steps to take in order to successfully resolve the citation. If any violations cited are marked by a must-appear and do not have a fine amount indicated next to them, the violator must-appear in the District Court indicated on the citation. A notice of the trial will be automatically mailed to them.
It is absolutely necessary to appear in court if the citation is marked with must-appear. Even if an individual hires an attorney, they must appear with their attorney at the scheduled hearing or the judge may issue a warrant for their arrest.
Unless the charge is marked must-appear, the individual can choose to pay the preset fine amount indicated and not go to court. For example, a person does not have to appear in court for a driving-without-seatbelt violation. A person is not able to waive their court appearance by pleading guilty or no contest, because they must be present in court in order to enter it.
Although reckless driving is a serious offense, it is not a must-appear violation and the individual can choose to pay the preset fine amount and not go to court. However, they should keep in mind that by paying the fine amount, any points that are associated with the ticket will automatically go onto their driver’s record. In this instance, if the individual pays the reckless-driving fine printed on the citation, six points will automatically be assessed to their record.
District Court at Maryland Complaints and Citation Section
The District Court at Maryland Complaints and Citation option section is to be mailed to the P.O. Box in Annapolis, with the selection of whether the accused is going to pay the citation or request a hearing at a Maryland District Court.
This is because an individual has the option to pay the preset fine amount listed on the citation, or request a trial or waiver hearing in a Maryland District Court. Either option must be chosen and acted upon within 30 days of the issuance date of the citation. If the driver chooses to pay a citation, they can mail in the fine amount, pay at any District Court, or online with a credit card. However, if the individual chooses to request a hearing, they must mail in the citation to the P.O. Box in Annapolis.
If an individual requests a waiver hearing, they are saying that they want to go to court and plead guilty with an explanation. An individual may want to request a waiver hearing if they believe they are guilty of the violation charged but have a good explanation as to why the violation was committed. By pleading guilty with an explanation, the judge may give more leniency with their sentencing, and waive the points associated with the ticket. This will be considered an admission of guilt, so it is better to request a trial.
By requesting a trial, the accused is stating that they want to plead not guilty. In doing so, the officer who issued the citation is required to appear at the scheduled hearing. Depending on the circumstances, if the officer did not appear and the individual plead not guilty, the citation will be dismissed. Even if the officer does appear, the driver still has the opportunity to change their mind and plead guilty with an explanation. An individual may want a trial because they believe they are not guilty of the violation charged or they believe that they have a valid defense to the violation.
How a Lawyer Can Help
A lawyer can enter a person’s court appearance and request the trial by sending a request to the cited District Court and P.O. Box in Annapolis. Additionally, the lawyer may be able to obtain an incident or accident report if the officers have one.
If a person receives a payable citation, the attorney can waive their appearance so they do not have to show up to court since the lawyer can make arguments on the person’s behalf. The attorney can also effectively mitigate the case to get a person the best possible outcome, whether they have a payable or must-appear citation, by negotiating with the prosecutor, talking to the officer, or making statements to the judge.