What happens when you get a traffic ticket in Maryland?

Most people just pay it. However, that can be a big mistake. If you’ve recently been issued a payable ticket for a moving violation, take the time to review your choices before you make a decision about how to proceed.

Paying the ticket

Payable tickets are relatively minor offenses for which there is no jail time. You’re offered the option of paying a listed fine for whatever traffic offense you committed. Often, the listed fine is lower than the maximum possible fine that can be imposed, so many people consider it a bargain. Plus, they appreciate not having to deal with the hassle of a courtroom appearance.

Unfortunately, that hassle-free experience can be financially unwise. Paying the fine automatically equals a guilty plea — which means points will be assessed against your license. That will, in turn, raise your insurance. It also puts you in danger of losing your license if you rack up too many points that way.

A waiver hearing

A waiver hearing allows you to request a trial date — but it relieves the officer who issued the ticket from any obligation to be there. You can only plead “guilty with an explanation,” in the hopes of persuading the court to reduce your fine or withhold the points.

A trial

If you request a trial, the officer who issued the citation must appear in court to defend the ticket. If the officer fails to appear, there’s a strong possibility that the court will dismiss the ticket or acquit you. If the officer does appear, a traffic attorney can help you present your case or plead guilty with an explanation at that point.

Before you hop online and pay the ticket for a moving violation, consider your options carefully. The quick-and-easy method of handling this issue isn’t always the best route to take.