Were you pulled over in Maryland for speeding or another minor traffic violation? You will see that for these minor traffic offenses, you have options. After receiving a ticket you will be sent a document asking if you want to go to court or if you want to just pay the ticket. Is it worth it to take it to court? The answer, like a lot of questions about the law, is “it depends.”
Paying the Ticket - Pros and Cons
You will notice that for minor traffic offenses, you will be given the opportunity to pay the ticket and avoid going to court. The “Pro” to paying your ticket is you do not have to travel to court or worry about an impending court date.
However, by paying the ticket you are admitting that you are guilty. Not only are you admitting guilt to the court, but you are thereby admitting guilt to the MVA. If you pay the ticket, the MVA, depending on the minor traffic offense, may assess points on your driver’s license. For example, paying speeding tickets will lead to anywhere from 1 to 5 points being assessed to your license depending on how fast you were alleged to have been driving and how much you were exceeding the speed limit. Points on your license can impact your car insurance rates and potentially lead to suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. If you were pulled over in Maryland, but have an out-of-state license, depending on your state, points can transfer to your out-of-state license.
Taking it to Court with a Maryland Traffic Lawyer - Pros and Cons
There are several “Pros” when you take a minor traffic ticket to court in Maryland. That is why, at Ruben Law Firm, we often recommend you ask for a trial on your traffic violation, whether you hire an attorney or not.
First of all, you will have the opportunity to present a case that you are not guilty if you believe the facts support it. Remember, it is the State’s burden to prove you are guilty of a minor traffic offense beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, for a speeding ticket, the police officer who pulled you over will be required to appear at court and testify that he saw you speeding and used proper techniques in detecting your speed. If the officer is unable to do this, the court may find you “Not Guilty.” You would have the ability to cross-examine the police officer and, if you so choose, testify. At Ruben Law Firm, we would be able to assess the facts of your case to see if we think you would have a strong case worth taking to court.
Second, even if the Judge finds you guilty, you (or your attorney) will have the opportunity to argue for a lesser penalty. This is something that you can do if you go to court, but you cannot do if you pay the ticket. If you take it to court and the Judge finds you guilty, you can try to convince the Judge to potentially reduce the charge or strike the guilty finding altogether in an effort to reduce (or prevent) the points that will be assessed. The Judge can also reduce your fine.
Third, for some minor traffic offenses, you can have an attorney attend for you. This is often helpful for people who get pulled over in Maryland but live in another state. One potentially negative aspect in taking it to court is that the Judge also has the discretion to increase your fine up to a maximum of $500.
If you have a minor traffic citation and need help figuring out whether to pay it or take it to court, feel free to give us a call for a free consultation with a Maryland traffic lawyer at 410-766-4044.