Each time that I attend a session of Traffic Court I observe people that have created problems for themselves simply because they fail to read their traffic citations and fail to carefully review the Notices that they receive from the Court.
There have been three relatively recent developments that have changed the logistics of fighting a traffic ticket, without a lawyer.
1. In Maryland you must now request a trial, in writing. This is accomplished by providing the requested information and mailing the ticket to the Court. In years past, a trial was automatically generated by simply not paying the fine. Now if you don’t mail in the written request, you are deemed to have admitted the offense
2. When you request a hearing you must clearly indicate that you want a trial. If you don’t request a trial, then you will be required to come to Court, for the sole purpose of pleading “Guilty with an Explanation”. This plea is always an option, but unless you request a trial then the Police Officer will not be summoned. Many people are fortunate to have their cases dismissed when the Police fail to appear. However, this cannot occur if you don’t check the correct box on the citation.
3. Montgomery County has changed its long standing policy of having all simple traffic ticket heard during morning dockets. Now such cases are heard both in the morning and afternoon. This change has resulted, thus far, in an abnormally high number of citizens and Police Officers failing to appear for Court. A civilian failing to appear will have his/her license to be suspended. The Officer’s “no show” will result in the case being dismissed.