Citations or traffic tickets are issued in the State of Maryland for various violations of traffic law. Citations generally indicate the statute or code number of the violation, and explain how and when to pay the fine or respond to the ticket. You must respond to a citation, usually by paying a fine or appearing in court, or else a warrant may be issued for your arrest and your driving license may be suspended.
TYPES OF VIOLATIONS
Most traffic tickets in Maryland are issued for either "payable" or "must appear" offenses.
Examples of payable offenses are:
- Running a stop sign or a red light
- Improper turning
- Failure to yield
Examples of must appear offenses are:
- Driving under the influence
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Hit and run
- Driving with a suspended license
MOVING VS. NON-MOVING VIOLATIONS
Violations are also classified by whether or not the vehicle was in motion at the type of the incident, and traffic tickets may therefore be for either moving or non-moving violations. Examples of moving violations include:
- Speeding or driving below the minimum speed
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Driving without a seat belt
- Drunk driving (DUI and DWI)
Non-Moving violations include:
- Parking in a handicapped zone or other illegal parking
- Driving with an invalid vehicle registration
- Having expired or missing license plates
- Leaving a vehicle unattended and running
The fine will be mentioned on your ticket. You do not have to serve time in jail for a payable traffic offence.
YOUR OPTIONS WHEN YOU RECEIVE A CITATION
Many citations do not require a court appearance, and you may admit guilt by paying the ticket directly. The citation will indicate how and by what date to pay the fine. The following options are available for payment:
- Online payment. A fee will be charged for this.
- In person - visit the district court. You can pay by credit card as well.
- By phone - call (800) 492-2656 and follow the Interactive Voice Response System. Keep your credit card handy.
- By mail - send a copy of the ticket along with the check or money order, to the address given below:
District Court Traffic Processing Centre P.O. Box 6676 Annapolis, MD 21401
If you wish to dispute the citation, you must appear in court personally on the scheduled date, and enter a "not guilty" plea. While you may be able to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, a trial will be scheduled if no agreement is reached. A trial gives you an opportunity to fight the traffic ticket in front of a judge or jury, and most people prefer to hire a traffic ticket lawyer to defend them in court.
If you disagree with the charge completely, you do not have to take immediate action. A trial notice will be sent to you after 15 days giving you details on the date and place of the trial. You can request a change in date by contacting the district court. If the verdict is not in your favor, you can appeal after 30 days.
You also have the opportunity to "plead guilty with an explanation". This will give you an opportunity to explain your version of events to the judge and to ask for a reduction in fees or for probation instead of a conviction. The decision is at the discretion of the judge. Your fine may also be increased up to $500. You can appeal the verdict unless it is a verdict of probation. To do this, you need to check the waiver box on the ticket and mail it to the courts asking for a hearing. You will need to send this to the address given above.
If you have committed a "must appear" offense, you are arrested and taken to the nearest police station. For more information on "must appear" citations, check with the district court nearest you.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF BEING FOUND GUILTY
When you pay a ticket directly, you are essentially pleading guilty to a traffic offense, which carries the same consequences as being found guilty of the violation in court. Motorists who either plead guilty directly or are found guilty of an offense should be aware of the following possible consequences:
- Certain traffic offenses, including speeding and other moving violations, are automatically reported to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. Maryland routinely provides information concerning traffic ticket convictions to other states.
- The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration follows a point system to track violations and their corresponding penalties. Points are added to your driving record which could result in your license being suspended. For more information, see our Point System section.
- Maryland drivers that accumulate points on their driving record are often subject to higher car insurance premiums.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT TRAFFIC TICKET CONVICTIONS
One of the best ways to reduce the negative implications of traffic violations is to drive safely and not commit any additional offenses. Points on your Maryland license will be reduced, and your driving record may eventually be cleared if you remain free of any additional violations. Smart drivers often choose to take a defensive driving course or traffic school course in order to reduce the points on their license more quickly.
Taking a defensive driving course can also help lower the car insurance premiums of drivers whose rates increased following one or more traffic ticket convictions. Some drivers prefer to obtain a new quote for car insurance following a traffic ticket conviction, since often more competitive rates and coverage may be available.