Monday, April 18, 2016

Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer: Should I Pay My Traffic Tickets or Ask for a Trial?

·         It’s very common in any type of traffic case to have multiple tickets.
o   Some of these tickets may be “must appear” tickets.
§  These are the more serious offenses, such as hit and run, driving on a suspended license, or DUI, which carry not only a fine, but the possibility of jail time.
§  Obviously, these are not tickets that you can just mail in a payment.  You must appear and the judge will decide how much the fine will be.
o   The rest of the tickets will be “payable” tickets.
§  These are your speeding tickets, failure to obey a traffic signal, failure to display license, improper lane change, negligent driving, etc.
·         When you’re faced with either a slew of payables or both payables and “must appear” tickets, you have a decision to make.
o   Should I just go ahead and pay the tickets or should I ask for a trial?
o   Keep in mind that every case is unique and an attorney can be extremely useful in helping you make these decisions, but here are some things to consider.
·         First, if your underlying “must appear” offense is a DUI, it is probably best to wait before paying the payable fines until your trial date.
o   Often, the prosecutor will agree to drop these payable charges in exchange for a guilty plea to the DUI offense.
§  If you’ve already paid the payables, you cannot bargain for them to be dropped later.  You also will have taken all the points associated with the tickets if you choose to pay the fines before trial.
·         If your “must appear” offense is something less serious than DUI, for example, driving without a license, you may be able to use the payables as a bargaining chip in a different way.
o   Sometimes, the prosecutor will agree to drop the driving without a license charge if you agree to go pay the payables at that time.  (and if you have fixed your license)
·         If all of your tickets are “payables” you can still request a trial and attempt to negotiate how many of them the prosecutor will go forward on.  If the officer in your case does not show up at your trial date, the whole case could be dropped.

·         You also have the option of asking the judge to reduce the fines you would have to pay, or to reduce the number of points assessed.  If you have already sent in your payment, you’ve just accepted the worst case scenario as far as fines and points assessed against you.

      If you or a family member has been charged with a traffic or alcohol-related offense in Maryland and would like a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on these types of offenses please feel free to contact our office at (301) 854-9000 and schedule an appointment at our office in Columbia or throughout Maryland, or visit us on the web at 

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