Maryland Traffic Ticket & Traffic Violation Law | Zirkin & Schmerling Law

Traffic Violations

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Charged with a Traffic Violation? We’re here to help.

Have you been charged with a traffic violation? Don’t let the name fool you. Just because your case is labeled as traffic infraction does not mean it is not serious. All traffic citations are misdemeanors in Maryland and usually take place in the District Court. Plus, if convicted, you may face jail time and substantial fines. You may also be faced with the loss of your driving privileges, or have points placed onto your driver’s license, which could result in higher car insurance rates or loss of a job that requires a clean driving record.

Zirkin & Schmerling Law, views no traffic ticket as a minor infraction. Our law firm has experience handling all types of traffic and moving violations, including serious jailable traffic violations and fineable-only traffic violations.

Should you participate in an alcohol or driver-improvement program? Should you pay your tickets? Should you plead not guilty? Should you do nothing? You need an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to help you answer these types of questions and to represent you when you have been charged with a traffic violation. An experienced Maryland Traffic Violations Defense Attorney will be helpful to you while preparing your case for trial, if appropriate. If a violation occurs an attorney may be able to help remedy the situation prior to your trial.

If you feel like you need some legal help, contact our Traffic Law attorney to schedule a free case evaluation today.
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What You Need To Know For Your Traffic Violation Case

Below is a Road Map of a case from investigation through trial that is designed to give you an idea of what to expect at any point in the process. Click on any of the links below to reveal more information and gain a better understanding of what to expect at each stage. 

Road Map for Jailable Traffic Violations Case

  1. An Officer/Trooper stops your vehicle
    • You are in your vehicle. You may or may not have an awareness that an officer is following your vehicle. All of the sudden, flashing red and blue lights are activated and an officer is directly behind your car. You are being pulled over. You may or may not know why.
    • First things first, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Immediately is preferable but do so safely. Second, when you come to a stop, the officer will approach the side of your vehicle. This officer does not know you. This can be a very dangerous encounter for the officer. As a courtesy, you should place your hands on the top of your steering wheel so that the officer can see that you are not holding anything that is threatening to the officer. When the officer approached the side of the car, you should be polite to the officer. But remember that if you speak to the police, your statements are treated as admissions. If you know you are doing something illegal, you do not have to answer the officer’s questions. The only thing you are required to do is provide the officer with a copy of your driver’s license and registration for the vehicle. Being polite absolutely includes remaining silent.
    • If the police try to interview you, tell them you do not want to speak without consulting an attorney. This may make their questioning come to an end. If they really want to talk to you, they must give you an opportunity to call an attorney. If this should occur, contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to begin the preparation of your defense in your case.
  2. An Officer/Trooper may choose to give you a ticket instead of arresting you
    • An officer still has the right for many types of jailable traffic violations to issue you a citation instead of arresting you. If you are issued a citation, the officer is allowing you to leave the scene without being arrested. You can return to your life and wait for a notice in the mail alerting you to when your case is scheduled for a trial date.
    • Because your ticket has jailable consequences, you must appear for court. You do not need to file anything to request a trial date no matter what the ticket says. If the officer also issued you payable traffic tickets with your jailable traffic violations, do not pay those before trial date unless an attorney advises you that it is in your best interest to do so.
    • If you are unsure what to do at this point, contact an experienced Traffic Violation Defense Attorney to assist you.
  3. An Officer/Trooper/Sheriff has arrested you
    • The Officer’s job at this point is to both take you to a police station to be more formally charged with the crime and to continue their own investigation of the crime. This will include interviewing any witnesses that are nearby and collecting evidence that is on the scene. Many, but certainly not all, officers are wearing Body Cameras and are recording their investigations. There are requirements that they notify you of this, with certain exceptions. Failing to notify you does not automatically mean that this evidence cannot be used in your prosecution.      
    • The first thing you need to do is remain silent. You have a right to remain silent. Anything you say and do can be used against you. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided to you. These are known as your Miranda rights. These are your full and complete Miranda rights. Law Enforcement are not required in all situations to notify you of these rights. To the extent that you ever encounter a situation where you are in an encounter with law enforcement, this article has just advised you of your Miranda Rights. Assert them always. Why? Because your own words and actions can be used as evidence against you to convict you of a crime. It is always the State’s Attorney’s job to prove that you are guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high standard and difficult for even the best prosecutors to overcome. When you offer up evidence against yourself, you are making the State’s Attorney’s job that much easier.
    • If the police try to interview you, tell them you do not want to speak without consulting an attorney. This may make their questioning come to an end. If they really want to talk to you, they must give you an opportunity to call an attorney. If this should occur, contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to begin the preparation of your defense in your case.
  4. Initial Bail Hearing
    • After being arrested by an officer, they will bring you to a police station where they will write up the charges against you. Within 24 hours of being arrested, you must be released or taken before a Commissioner. A Commissioner is someone who will advise you of the charges against you and decide if you should be released while your case is pending or hold you in the jail until your trial date. A Commissioner can also order you to have to pay a bail in order to get released. Finally, a Commissioner can order certain pretrial conditions on release on you including, but not limited to, staying away from certain people/locations and reporting to a Pretrial Agent who will stay in touch with you while the case is pending.
    • The standard that a Commissioner will consider is (1) whether you are a flight risk and (2) whether you are a danger to the community. They are applied like a balancing test. One can be enough to keep you detained while your case is pending. This is not a trial and most Commissioners will say they must accept the police report as fact for this hearing alone. Asserting that you are innocent until proven guilty is not enough to be deserving of pretrial release. 
    • You have a right to an attorney at your Bail Hearing. Notify the Commissioner that you want an attorney to represent you at this stage and the Commissioner will give you an opportunity to call your attorney. Contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to represent you at your Bail Hearing.
    • If you are released at this stage, and you have not already done so, contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to begin the preparation of your defense in your case.
  5. Bail Review
    • If you are not released from the Detention Center after your Bail Hearing, you will have a court appearance on the next business day with a Judge who will conduct a Bail Review. A Bail Review serves the same purpose as a Bail Hearing: to determine if you should be released while your case is pending or hold you in the jail until your trial date. Also, Judges have more discretion that Commissioners; there are certain situations where Commissioners are not authorized by law to release a Defendant, but a Judge still can.
    • The standard that a Judge will consider is (1) whether you are a flight risk and (2) whether you are a danger to the community. They are applied like a balancing test. One can be enough to keep you detained while your case is pending. This is not a trial and most Judges will say they must accept the police report as fact for this hearing alone. Asserting that you are innocent until proven guilty is not enough to be deserving of pretrial release.
    • You have a right to an attorney at your Bail Review. Contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to represent you at your Bail Hearing.
    • If you are released at this stage, and you have not already done so, contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to begin the preparation of your defense in your case.
  6. Discovery
    • When you are charged with a jailable traffic violation, the State’s Attorney is required to turn over copies of the evidence they will use against you as well as any evidence they have that may tend to show you are not guilty
    • For jailable traffic violation cases, there is no specific date that evidence has to be turned over before a trial. The only language in the rules of evidence for incarcerable traffic cases is that the State’s Attorney is required to exercise due diligence to identify all of the material and information that must be disclosed. In terms of timing, that isn’t very specific. And for any client, this can be very frustrating if your attorney does not explain this to you in advance.
    • Essentially, it means that evidence must be turned over before trial begins. So what happens if the State’s Attorney turns over evidence on the day of trial? A good attorney should not hesitate to consider postponing a case if the evidence turned over requires further investigation.
    • Also, one of the reasons you are hiring an attorney is because your attorney knows what should be turned over typically in a case. An experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney will be on the lookout for certain evidence and know when it is missing and when this missing evidence is significant enough to affect the entire case either positively or negatively for their client. An experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney will also know that such circumstances may also require the need for a postponement to protect their client.
    • Contact an experienced Traffic Violations Attorney to represent you so that you can obtain all of the Discovery that you are entitled to.
  7. Trial Date in the District Court
    • In Maryland, the only types of criminal cases that can go to trial in the District Court are all misdemeanors and traffic violations and a very select list of felonies.
    • There is no set rule statewide of when your traffic violation case will be scheduled for trial after you have been charged. It changes by county to county. Some counties will schedule a trial date one month later while others will schedule your trial months later.
    • Your first trial date will be scheduled in a District Court in the county where you were charged. You will have a right to a trial as soon as that day. If you elect to have a trial while your case is in the District Court, the only trial you can have inside a District Court is a trial by judge, aka a Bench Trial. This is a trial where the judge assigned to your courtroom listens to the evidence and decides alone if the State’s Attorney has proven that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • Just because your case begins in the District Court does not always mean that it has to stay there. If you are charged with a crime where the maximum penalty for any one charge is more than 90 days of incarceration, you have a right to a jury trial. Jury trials are not tried in the District Court. They are only tried in the Circuit Court. The choice of whether or not to have a jury trial is the exclusive choice of the Defendant.
    • If you are still in the District Court, and you request a jury trial, the case is postponed to be set in to the Circuit Court for a jury trial date. Again, when this will be varies by counties. Some counties set the case in as soon as the very next day while others will set the case in for trial several months later.
    • Much work goes into preparing for a trial. You may insist that you are Innocent but asserting that you are Innocent is not enough. You need to be ready to win your trial. Contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to defend you on your trial date when you are charged with committing a Misdemeanor.
  8. Trial Date in the Circuit Court
    • If you requested jury trial in the District Court for your jailable traffic violation case, your jury trial will take place in the Circuit Court.
    • At your trial, a judge will preside over your case. The State’s Attorney is required to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You get to select before the beginning of your trial who will listen to the evidence and decide if the State’s Attorney has proven their case against you. You will be deciding between the Judge or a Jury. A jury is 12 people chosen from the voter and motor roles of the county where your case is being tried. The State’s Attorney will call witnesses to testify and present evidence that they have. Your attorney gets to ask questions of the State’s Attorney witnesses. This is called cross-examination. You have the opportunity to present evidence in your defense. This can be witnesses, evidence, and you have the right to testify in your defense. You also have the right to not testify and your silence cannot be held against you.
    • At the conclusion of the trial, the judge or jury will decide if you are Guilty or Not Guilty. Much work goes into preparing for a trial. You may insist that you are Innocent but asserting that you are Innocent is not enough. You need to be ready to win your trial. Contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to defend you on your trial date.

Road Map for Fineable Traffic Violations Case

  1. An Officer/Trooper stops your vehicle
    • You are in your vehicle. You may or may not have an awareness that an officer is following your vehicle. All of the sudden, flashing red and blue lights are activated and an officer is directly behind your car. You are being pulled over. You may or may not know why.
    • First things first, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Immediately is preferable but do so safely. Second, when you come to a stop, the officer will approach the side of your vehicle. This officer does not know you. This can be a very dangerous encounter for the officer. As a courtesy, you should place your hands on the top of your steering wheel so that the officer can see that you are not holding anything that is threatening to the officer. When the officer approached the side of the car, you should be polite to the officer. But remember that if you speak to the police, your statements are treated as admissions. If you know you are doing something illegal, you do not have to answer the officer’s questions. The only thing you are required to do is provide the officer with a copy of your driver’s license and registration for the vehicle. Being polite absolutely includes remaining silent.
    • If the police try to interview you, tell them you do not want to speak without consulting an attorney. This may make their questioning come to an end. If they really want to talk to you, they must give you an opportunity to call an attorney. If this should occur, contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to begin the preparation of your defense in your case.
  2. An Officer/Trooper gives you a ticket
    • An officer still has the right at this point for many types of jailable traffic violations to issue you a citation instead of arresting you. If you are issued a citation, the officer is allowing you to leave the scene without being arrested. You can return to your life and wait for a notice in the mail alerting you to when your case is scheduled for a trial date.
    • Most officers issuing traffic citations in Maryland are issuing tickets using the same format as all other officers around the state. On the ticket, it will notify you of which traffic violation you are alleged to have committed.
    • A long time ago, after receiving your traffic ticket, you would wait for a court date notice to arrive in the mail. That is not how it works anymore.
    • On the traffic citation that the officer gives you, on the bottom right hand corner of the page, the traffic citation will advise you that you that you need to make a choice within 30 days of receiving your traffic citation as to how you want to resolve your case. You have three choices. Once you make that choice, you are to check a box indicating which of the three choices you have selected and mail in a copy of your citation with the selection made to an address for the District Court of Maryland. The ticket says what address to mail your citation to.
    • Your three choices are that you can Pay a Fine, Request a Waiver Hearing, or Request a Trial. It is important that you understand the choice you are about to make.
    • If you select “Pay the Fine,” you are agreeing to pay the fine that is marked on the ticket. The ticket does not tell you if there are points associated with the ticket. If you pay the fine, whatever points are preassigned to the ticket will be automatically added to your driving record and will remain with you for two years. This will likely increase the price of your car insurance. Additionally, if you accumulate too many points, this can result in your license being suspended or revoked.
    • If you select “Request a Waiver Hearing,” your case will be scheduled for a Court Appearance. You will receive a Notice to Appear in the mail. When you appear in court, there will be a judge in the courtroom with you. The officer will not be summonsed to appear because a Waiver Hearing is just an opportunity for you to appear in court and ask the judge to consider not giving you a Guilty verdict and reducing the fines.
    • If you select “Request a Trial,” your case will be scheduled for a Trial Date. You will receive a Notice to Appear in the mail. When you appear in court, the officer and any other relevant witnesses are required to be present.
    • Which choice should you select?  Contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to help you make this selection ad to begin the preparation of your defense in your case.
  3. Discovery
    • You should know that if you are charged with a fineable-only traffic violation, your type of case does not have a “discovery phase.” This means that evidence is not required to be turned over to you prior to appearing for court. Any evidence that you want to use must be procured by you or your attorney in advance of your trial date. 
    • Contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to represent you so that you can obtain all of the evidence that your case needs to be successful.
  4. Trial Date in the District Court
    • In Maryland, the only types of criminal cases that can go to trial in the District Court are all misdemeanors and traffic violations and a very select list of felonies.
    • There is no set rule statewide of when your traffic violation case will be scheduled for trial after you have been charged. It changes by county to county. Some counties will schedule a trial date one month later while others will schedule your trial months later.
    • Your first trial date will be scheduled in a District Court in the county where you were charged. You will have a right to a trial as soon as that day. If you elect to have a trial while your case is in the District Court, the only trial you can have inside a District Court is a trial by judge, aka a Bench Trial. This is a trial where the judge assigned to your courtroom listens to the evidence and decides alone you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • If you are charged with a crime where the maximum penalty for any one charge is more than 90 days of incarceration, you have a right to a jury trial.
    • Fineable-only Traffic Violations are a good example of a type of case that do not have a right to jury trial because their maximum penalty does not include any incarceration.
    • Another important difference between Fineable-only Traffic Violations and Serious Traffic Violations is that no State’s Attorney is assigned to the case. The only people present on your court date will be the judge, the officer, and any other relevant witnesses required to be present.
    • Much work goes into preparing for a trial. You may insist that you are Innocent but asserting that you are Innocent is not enough. You need to be ready to win your trial. Contact an experienced Traffic Violations Defense Attorney to defend you on your trial date when you are charged with committing a Traffic Violation.

MVA Consequences

Did a law enforcement officer seize your license and issue you a temporary 45-day driver’s license? Did you receive a Notice in the mail from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration? If so, you could be facing suspension or, worse, revocation of your driving privileges. In Maryland, if you accumulate too many points on your driver’s license you can lose your ability to drive. If you are charged with drinking and driving (DUI/DWI), even if you are found Not Guilty in criminal court, the MVA can take your license away. Click the link below to learn more about What Do I Do If I Get A Letter From The MVA In Maryland?

Types of Traffic Violations in Maryland

There are two kinds of traffic violations, but at Zirkin & Schmerling Law, we treat it like there are three:

  1. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol/Driving While Impaired by Alcohol
  2. All Other Jailable Traffic Violations
  3. Fineable-Only Traffic Violations

Click on each link above to learn more about the type of charge you need a Maryland Traffic Violations Attorney to represent you for.

Do I Need Help From an Experienced Traffic Attorney?

It is critical you hire an attorney who understands Maryland traffic laws. No charge should be taken lightly, and the criminal defense attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling Law will fight with energy and commitment to obtain the best result for you. If you or someone you know has been charged with any kind of traffic offense, contact Zirkin and Schmerling Law for a free consultation and learn what options are available. Call 410-753-4611 to learn more.

Do you have more questions? Here are more answers:

If I’m Pulled Over By Police, Do I Have To Do a Field Sobriety Test? Read More
Do I Have To Take A Breathalyzer Test? Read More
Are DUI and DWI the Same Thing in Baltimore? Read More
Do I Need An Attorney For My Traffic Ticket? Read More
Penalties for First-time Drunk Drivers Read More
Your Next 10 Days After a DUI Arrest in Maryland Read More
Advantages of Uber & Lyft to Keep Our Roads Safe Read More
Traffic Ticket Stop Goes Horribly Wrong Read More
Move Over – Maryland Highway Worker Hit By Inattentive Driver During Live Interview Read More
Dangerous Maryland Roads and Intersections With Higher Than Average Pedestrian-Car Accidents Read More