Montgomery County Traffic Lawyer
If you have been charged with a traffic offense in Montgomery County, MD, get in touch with a Montgomery County traffic lawyer as soon as possible to learn about the possible defenses available to you. It may be tempting to pay your traffic citation, but this action can have far-reaching effects on your future insurance rates, not to mention other commonly overlooked repercussions.
By working with a Montgomery County traffic attorney, you can be confident that you have vetted your options before deciding on a course of action. Our criminal defense attorneys in Montgomery County are ready to help you weigh your options and get to work preparing a defense strategy that’s right for you.
Traffic Charges in Montgomery County
A few years ago, Maryland changed the way it handles all traffic violations. Under the old system, a court date for trial was automatically assigned to every “payable” citation. But now, anyone receiving a citation must request a trial. Failure to make this request within the 30-day window after the offense automatically results in a guilty verdict. You will then be sent a bill for the fine (and court costs), which must be paid immediately. If you wish to plead “guilty with explanation,” meaning that there were extenuating circumstances contributing to the offense, you must instead request a waiver hearing within that same 30-day period. A waiver hearing is not a trial; it only involves you, the judge, and your Montgomery County traffic lawyer. Payable offenses can draw fines of between $50 and $500. The most common payable traffic citations are issued for speeding.
Common Payable Offenses
- Speeding: The fines for this offense have recently been modified and depend on the speed you were ticketed at and whether an accident was involved. Often, your driving record is taken into account at sentencing. Penalties can range from $80 and a single Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) demerit point on your driving record to $530 and five MVA points. Blatantly excessive speeding can be charged as reckless driving. Fines can be doubled for speeding in a school or work zone.
- Reckless driving: Offenses charged as reckless driving include: driving too fast for road or weather conditions, blatantly excessive speeding under any condition, failing to yield the right of way, or passing someone at a railroad crossing. A reckless driving conviction comes with a $500 fine and six MVA points for a first offense. However, if you have a good driving record, it is possible to plea bargain down to negligent driving, which means a $140 fine and one DMV point.
- Aggressive driving: This is a combination of three or more driving offenses that are charged simultaneously—for example, overtaking and passing a vehicle, passing a vehicle on the right-hand side, and tailgating. A ticket for reckless driving can combine the fines for all of the charged offenses and an additional penalty of five MVA points. However, it is not unusual for an experienced Montgomery County traffic attorney to plea the charge down to the less-threatening charge of negligent driving.
The following “must appear” citations (for serious traffic offenses) can involve jail time if you are convicted. You still have to contact the court clerk of Prince George’s County–if that is where you received your ticket–to set a trial date, especially if you wish to contest the charges.
- Driving without a license: A conviction for driving with a revoked or suspended license can result in a jail sentence of up to 60 days and a $500 fine. Additionally, five MVA points will be added to your record and your revoked or suspended license status will certainly be extended. Driving alone with only a learner’s permit draws five MVA points and could delay your right to apply for a full license.
- Fleeing and eluding: Fleeing and eluding holds a similar penalty to failing to stop after an accident; it is punishable by a maximum one year in jail, a fine of $1,000, and eight MVA points. A second conviction could result in two years in jail. Even if it is your first offense, an accident involving injury to a victim can draw up to three years in jail. Leaving the scene of a fatal accident can draw a 10-year prison sentence.
- Driving without insurance: This offense can result in a maximum jail sentence of one year, a fine of up to $1,000, and five MVA points.
For all matters cited as a “must appear” citation, you will have to appear in court on the trial date. However, when facing payable only citations, if you live outside Prince George’s County or it is impractical to appear on your court date, a Montgomery County traffic attorney can waive your appearance and appear for you once you sign a Power of Attorney form. Again, this applies to any payable offense hearing or trial and may also extend to some jailable offenses, depending on the facts of the case with an agreement between defense counsel and the State. Your Montgomery County traffic lawyer can contest the charge against you “in-abstentia” or negotiate an acceptable plea agreement.
The Possible Advantages of a Plea Agreement
Getting a traffic ticket does not automatically mean that you are guilty. Law enforcement officers make mistakes or are not always able to show up in court. Additionally, a qualified Montgomery County traffic lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea agreement. For example, if you have a good driving record and were charged with aggressive driving, your attorney might be able to “deal it down” to the less-threatening charge of negligent driving. Prosecutors may be inclined to agree to such a deal, especially if you complete a defensive driving course by the time the deal is struck.
Call a Montgomery County Traffic Lawyer Today
The friendly, experienced Montgomery County traffic attorneys at our firm is standing by to receive your call. Your initial consultation is free, and requires absolutely no commitment on your part. And remember, the earlier you call in to speak with Montgomery County traffic lawyer, the more quickly and it will be possible to plan an effective defense for your case.