Howard County Traffic Lawyer
Many people think that Maryland traffic violations are more of a nuisance than a serious problem. But they don’t understand that some violations, such as driving with either a suspended or revoked license, are actually criminal offenses that come with jail sentences. Plus, all moving violations can add demerit points to your Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driving record. If you accrue enough of these points, your license can even be suspended, preventing you from legally operating any motor vehicle in the state of Maryland. So, in addition to paying some pretty hefty fines and higher auto insurance rates, there are plenty of reasons to talk with a seasoned Howard County traffic lawyer before disputing them.
- Reckless Driving
- Aggressive Driving
- Unlicensed Driving
- License Suspension
- Building a Defense
- Levels of Offenses
- Out-of-State Drivers
- Demerit Point System
Some of the more serious charges include:
Speeding [Maryland Transportation Code Section 21–801]: You are required to drive at reasonable speeds based on road, weather, and traffic conditions. And on some roads (like freeways), you must maintain a minimum speed. Depending on how much you exceed the posted speed limit, the penalty can range from $80 and one DMV point to $530 and five DMV points. Fines can be doubled if the speeding occurred in a school or work zone.
Driving without a license [Section 16–101]: All drivers in Maryland must be licensed. A license cannot be lent or borrowed and must be in your possession when you drive. If you are convicted of driving with a revoked or suspended license, penalties can be up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, five DMV points, and an extension of your current license suspension or revocation. Minor drivers with a learner’s permit can incur a five-point penalty. If your license is not with you, presenting it in court drops the offense to “failure to display” a license, which is a minor offense.
Fleeing and eluding [Section 21-904]: If a uniformed officer on foot or in a police vehicle signals you to stop your vehicle and pull over, you must comply. Once you come to a stop, you must remain in or with your vehicle. Failing to stop the vehicle or running from the scene is charged as fleeing or eluding. Leaving the scene of an accident you are involved in is also a serious offense (hit-and-run).
Reckless driving [Section 21–901]: This violation is defined as “wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.” A first offense comes with a $500 fine and six MVA points. Sometimes, though, it can be plea-bargained down by a Howard County traffic lawyer to negligent driving under certain circumstances, which carries a $140 fine and one DMV point.
Aggressive driving [Section 21–901.2]: This is a combination of three or more driving offenses that are charged simultaneously, such as overtaking and passing a vehicle, passing a vehicle on the right, and tailgating. A ticket for aggressive driving combines the fines for however many offenses you are charged with (including jail time if applicable) and produces no fewer than five MVA points.
Driving without insurance [Section 17-107]: All who drive in Maryland must have state-approved minimum liability and property damage coverage, and carry their insurance cards whenever they drive. Failure to provide proof of insurance when law enforcement stops them brings a maximum jail sentence of one year, a possible fine of up to $1,000, and five MVA points. The offense can be reduced if proof of insurance at the time of arrest can be presented in court by a Howard County traffic lawyer.
New Regulations Regarding Traffic Court Trials
Maryland’s traffic laws were overhauled in 2011 and 2013. One change involves being ticketed for any moving violation. Suspects must now request a trial if they feel they are not guilty. Before 2011, a court date was automatically set. Failing to request a trial within 30 days is viewed as an automatic admission of guilt: [Section 26–201]. Being convicted “in absentia” means an automatic fine and a jail sentence. Other changes now include former payable offense that did not include points carrying 1 point on your license if convicted by a finding of guilt, paying out the citation or being convicted in absentia. This is why it’s important for anyone who receives any Howard County traffic citation to consult a lawyer quickly if they wish to contest the allegations.
How a Howard County Traffic Lawyer Can Help
If you live outside the county or cannot appear on your court date, most of the time you can sign a simple General Power of Attorney (POA) that allows your Howard County traffic lawyer to appear on your behalf to contest the charges in the court and/or negotiate a plea agreement prior to trial. Once your case is heard, and if the verdict is guilty, even on a lesser charge, you must serve any jail sentence and pay whatever fines are levied. If a plea agreement is arranged, you must also fulfill all the conditions of that plea agreement in timely fashion.