Pleading Guilty With an Explanation in Traffic Cases in Maryland
Receiving a traffic ticket is a frustrating experience. In many instances, the driver knows they committed the traffic violation and is willing to plead guilty and pay the fine. However, in some cases, the driver may feel some circumstances were present that made the traffic violation unavoidable or necessary. In this case, the recipient can enter a plea of guilty with an explanation.
Maryland Traffic Citations
In Maryland, traffic violations are either Payable or Must Appear.
Payable traffic violations include the following:
- Speeding ticket
- Failure to stop for a school bus or emergency vehicle
- Failure to stop at a red light, a stop sign, or a toll booth.
Must appear traffic violations include the following:
- Driving while under the influence
- Driving on a suspended license
- Driving without a license
- Driving without insurance
- Fleeing the scene of an accident
Unlike “must appear” traffic violations, payable offenses don’t require going to trial, but it is an option. The recipient of the traffic ticket has different plea options.
Plea Options in a Maryland Traffic Violation
If you received a payable traffic ticket, you have three plea options you can enter at the traffic court:
- Pleading guilty and paying the fine: The charge is added to your driving record, and the points are added to your driver’s license.
- Pleading guilty with an explanation: A Waiver Hearing will be scheduled so that you can explain your situation and get your fine reduced or waived.
- Pleading not guilty and requesting a judge or jury trial date to be scheduled.
Consult a Harford County Criminal Defense Lawyer to understand the traffic violation and your plea options.
What Does Guilty with Explanation Mean in a Maryland Traffic Case?
In traffic cases, pleading guilty means admitting guilt and paying your fine. However, pleading guilty with an explanation means requesting a hearing to explain the reasons behind your speeding or another traffic infraction. This plea option can be used to avoid paying the fine or paying a lower amount. You may also convince the judge to give you probation instead of a conviction.
In the hearing, you will be able to explain the circumstances of the traffic violation and any other mitigating factors.
The judge retains discretionary power to either accept or disregard your explanation. That’s why you’ll need the counsel of a Maryland Criminal Lawyer. They can evaluate your case, weigh the pros and cons of each plea, and advise you on the next step.
The Process of Pleading Guilty With an Explanation
If you want to plead guilty with an explanation, here’s the process you should follow:
- Responding to citations within 30 days
You are required by law to respond to the traffic case by pleading guilty with an explanation within thirty days. Failure to respond on time could result in a suspension of your driver’s license.
- Requesting a waiver hearing:
If you want to plead guilty with an explanation, you must check “request a waiver hearing” on your traffic ticket. A hearing date will be scheduled at the district court. Be sure to sign and date the ticket and mail it to the District Court Traffic Processing Center to schedule the hearing.
- Receiving the final decision
The judge makes the final decision in your traffic case, and if you are not satisfied with it, you have the right to appeal.
Pros and Cons of Pleading Guilty with an Explanation
There are two sides to the coin in pleading guilty with an explanation regarding traffic violations.
Pros of Pleading Guilty with an Explanation
After hearing your explanation, the judge could:
Dismiss the citation
Waive your fine
Reduce your fine
Place you on probation instead of a conviction
Cons of Pleading Guilty with an Explanation
If proven guilty at the waiver hearing, the judge may:
Determine you are guilty of the traffic violation and assign the appropriate penalties
Increase the fine to a maximum of $500
In addition, pleading guilty with an explanation can be added to your driving record as a guilty plea.
Pleading not guilty might be a good option if the individual can convince the judge of not being guilty. To decide whether to plead guilty with an explanation, the individual should consult a lawyer knowledgeable in traffic violations defense in Maryland.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
Traffic violations have consequences. You may be assessed a hefty fine if found guilty, and points could be added to your license. Some traffic violations, such as going 10 miles over the speed limit. may result in 2 pts against your license. However, going 30 miles over the speed limit could result in over 5 pts against your license. These points can increase your insurance premiums.
Navigating the traffic court and district court systems in Maryland can be a complicated process. You may have to attend several court appearances. Paperwork errors could result in unnecessary delays. Inattention to a court rule or scheduled hearing protocol could result in hefty fines, added points to your license, license suspension, or even jail time.
A knowledgeable Maryland Criminal Defense attorney can handle your case, help you decide the appropriate plea, and provide a strong defense.
Scrofano Law PC Can Help
A lawyer knowledgeable in Maryland’s traffic laws and penalties should guide you on whether to plead guilty with an explanation or opt for another option. The lawyers at Scrofano Law, PC, are experienced in dealing with Maryland prosecutors and municipal authorities. We’ll review your case and provide knowledgeable counsel on your plea options and defense. We can help you navigate the complexities of Maryland’s legal process for a successful resolution.
Contact us today for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Expunge a Driving Record in Maryland?
In Maryland, certain driving records are automatically expunged by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Eligibility is based on factors like the type of violations and the period since the last conviction.
For those with no suspensions or revocations and only moving violations, it’s typically a 3-year waiting period. For those with one suspension or revocation, it’s a 5-year waiting period. However, for individuals with a history of revocations or multiple suspensions, it’s a 10-year waiting period. The MVA expunges records within 31 days of becoming eligible. This process is free, and there’s no need to apply.
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