Beginning Jan. 1, if you get a traffic ticket in Maryland and you want to fight it in court, you must request a trial date. If you plan to pay the ticket, you need to do it in a timely fashion or risk having your license suspended.
Under the current system, drivers who receive citations are automatically given a trial date. The law requires the driver to pay the fine by the trial date or appear in court that day to answer to the charge.
Often, drivers wait until the last minute to pay the ticket, after the police officer who issued the citation is already scheduled to appear in court, resulting in time wasted and in many cases, unnecessary overtime expenditures, police said.
Beginning after the first of the new year, ticketed drivers will have three options:
- Pay the full amount of the preset fine.
- Request a hearing regarding sentencing and disposition in lieu of a trial (in other words, you do not dispute the facts alleged in the citation but wish to be heard regarding sentencing).
- Request a trial date. The date, time and place will be established by the District Court.
Drivers have 30 days to make one of the three choices and notify the District Court. Motorists who do not notify the Court within that time frame may be subject to suspension of their drivers’ licenses.
The new law does not apply to citations for “must appear” violations such as drunken driving. Defendants in those cases will be automatically notified by a Circuit Court or the District Court of a trial date and location.