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Understanding traffic violations here in Maryland

If you have driven for any appreciable amount of time, chances are that you are familiar with the fleeting flash of anxiety that can accompany the sight of flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Indeed, you immediately start going through a sort of mental instant replay to try to determine what you possibly could have done wrong over the last several miles.

Often all this anxiety proves to be unnecessary, as the squad car ultimately goes around you, targeting another driver or simply driving out of sight. Still, there are those times when you just aren't that lucky and you know a traffic citation is in your future.

Traffic violations -- an overview

There are two types of citations that can be issued for traffic violations here in Maryland:

  • Payable traffic violations: Issued for routine traffic violations such as speeding, improper lane changes, running a red light, etc.
  • Must appear violations: Issued for more serious traffic violations such as driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, driving on a suspended license, etc.  

In this series of posts, we will address standard payable traffic violations, which are issued by a law enforcement officer in either a handwritten or electronic version. In the former, you will be provided with two copies of the ticket while in the latter, you will be provided with just one printed copy.

You will be able to tell whether it's a payable violation as opposed to a must appear violation on handwritten traffic violations when the second box located under the "Notice to Appear" section is checked, and on electronic violations when the "Payable fine" box is checked.

While no jail time will result from payable traffic violations, they are, of course, punishable by a fine and can even become a part of your driving record.

In our next post, we'll discuss the three options available to those drivers issued a payable traffic citation.

Source: District Court of Maryland, "Traffic citation information," Accessed March 5, 2015

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