Do I Need a Lawyer to Handle a Traffic Ticket or Can I Pay the Fine?
Many people are unsure of what to do after receiving a traffic ticket in or near Baltimore, though they know they have two main choices: pay the fine or call a lawyer. The fact of the matter is, the State of Maryland makes it easy to think you’ve resolved a ticket by allowing you to pay a fine. This is the case for simple traffic matters such as speeding at a few miles per hour above the speed limit, running a red light or stop sign, or even driving around without wearing a seatbelt. As the name implies, these are all “payable” offenses.
On the other hand, you might have received a ticket for a “must appear” offense. This is a more serious charge that requires you to appear in court before a judge. You cannot pay a fine and consider the matter resolved; so you have the option of hiring legal representation. These charges are more severe than “payable” infractions, so finding a competent lawyer is more urgent.
So, do you hire a lawyer or pay the fine when presented with a traffic ticket? It all depends on the severity of your charge and the results you hope to get.
How Do I Know When to Hire a Maryland Traffic Lawyer?
Whether you actually need a lawyer depends on your specific situation. You have three options for responding to a payable ticket in Maryland, including:
- Paying the fine and pleading “Guilty” to the infraction
- Requesting a waiver hearing to plead “Guilty” with an explanation (this may reduce the fine), and
- Requesting a trial date and appearing for a trial. You may hire a traffic lawyer to represent you and plead “Not Guilty” at this trial.
If you get a ticket for running a red light, you may choose to simply pay it and move on; however, you should know that the court will find you guilty of the offense and incur points against your driver’s license. This might not be a big deal if you’ve never accumulated points, but the more points you get, the closer you are to a license suspension. Ideally, you’d never get points on your license so you could use your good driving record as a potential legal defense in a future traffic case.
There are benefits to working with a lawyer for a payable ticket, specifically the fact that your lawyer can appear in court for you and challenge the infraction. By presenting legal arguments for why your ticket should be dismissed, he or she might be able to keep the infraction off of your driving record and you can avoid points on your license.
You do not have the same selection of options available to you if you’ve been charged with a must appear offense like DUI, reckless driving, or driving with a suspended license. These are all serious criminal charges that may lead to criminal penalties upon a conviction. If the Maryland MVA sent you a notice in the mail for a must appear offense, you need to appear in court and defend yourself against the charge. You may consider it necessary to hire a lawyer to represent you in this case, because without legal representation, you could face the full extent of the law.
What is the Worst That Could Happen Without a Lawyer?
When deciding whether to work with a lawyer, you need to think about the worst result you could get in your case. That worst outcome is a likely result if you lack representation, which is why it might make sense to hire a lawyer regardless of your charge, but especially if you face a must appear violation. Some of the most common must appear offenses in Maryland include:
- Reckless Driving
- Excessive Speeding
- Driving with a Suspended License
- Street Racing
- Vehicular Manslaughter
Without a lawyer to fight a criminal charge, you’ll miss crucial opportunities to make persuasive legal arguments that could lead to a reduction or dismissal of your charge. The penalties you could face will vary, depending on the offense you’re convicted of in court. A DUI conviction, for example, may lead to:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- License suspension for at least 180 days
- 12 points on your driver’s license
It’s all a matter of cost-benefit analysis. If the potential benefits of working with a lawyer outweigh the potential costs of not working with one, you’ll want to choose an attorney to work on your case.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Baltimore Traffic Lawyer Now
Before deciding to hire a lawyer (or not), you should at least inform yourself of the most likely result with and without a lawyer. Attorney Hillel Traub of The Law Office of Hillel Traub will gladly explain your charge, what possible defenses exist, and the likely results of your case if you were to work with or without him. His goal is to make you aware of your legal options for defense at this time. If you choose to work with him, he will fight the charge against you aggressively and work with the court to have your charge reduced or dismissed.
Attorney Hillel Traub is a highly experienced and competent traffic attorney. He’s worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the Maryland MVA and can provide unique insight that supports your case. Call (410) 580-1100 for a free consultation today or complete our contact form.