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Understanding traffic violations here in Maryland – III

Many people have experienced the uncomfortable and sometimes embittering experience of being pulled over and ticketed by a law enforcement official for an accidental traffic offense.

As we’ve started discussing in a series of posts, however, it’s important for those issued these payable traffic violations — which can prove to be very expensive — to understand that they are not without options. To that end, today’s post will discuss the second option drivers have concerning the most commonly issued type of moving violation.

Option 2 — requesting a waiver hearing in order to plead “guilty with an explanation”

There exists something of a middle ground when it comes to payable traffic violations, meaning a person can do more than just select from among the two extremes of pleading guilty and paying the fine, or denying the traffic offense ever occurred and seeking a trial.

Indeed, they may find it acceptable to plead guilty, but would still like to ask the court to consider waiving or even reducing the fine, and/or give them probation as opposed to a conviction.

If this is the route a person wants to take, they have 30 days after the issuance of their citation to request either by mail or online form a waiver hearing in order to plead “guilty with an explanation.” This hearing, not to be confused with a trial, will then be scheduled.

At the hearing, a person will be given the chance to tell their side of the story (sans witnesses), make the aforementioned requests concerning the fine and/or the possibility of probation, and outline any extenuating circumstances of which they feel the judge should be aware.

It’s important for those who pursue this option to understand that while they could see their requests granted, the judge could also decide to increase the fine (up to $500) and find them guilty.

Should a guilty verdict be handed down, however, they will have the option of appealing the decision.

Our blog will continue our discussion of the options available to drivers issued payable traffic citations next week, examining how motorists can request a trial.

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

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