Maryland Law Change for Motorists Receiving Traffic Citations
Effective January 1, 2011, motorists in the State of Maryland that receive a minor traffic citation, such as speeding, must request a trial date within 30 days if they want to contest the citation or request a Probation Before Judgment (PBJ). The new law does not affect motorists that receive a “must appear" citation, such as driving while suspended or drunk driving violations.
Under the old law, Maryland motorists were assigned a trial date in the District Court for all traffic citations. This often led to many motorists failing to appear for Court and police officers attending unneeded hearings. Law enforcement and state government hope that the new law will reduce the amount of time police officers spend in Court and more time spent on the street.
Under the new law motorists must file, within 30 days, a written request for a hearing to contest the traffic citation. Motorists still have the option of paying the traffic ticket, usually within 30 days from the date of the traffic stop. If the citation is not paid within the prescribed time frame, the driver’s license may be suspended.
If motorists choose to contest the traffic citation, they will be assigned a trial date and must appear in the District Court for the jurisdiction where the citation was issued. At the hearing, drivers will still have the option of contesting the citation by trial, or pleading guilty with an explanation. Drivers can request the Court grant them the benefits of a Probation Before Judgment (PBJ) or reduction in fine. Probation before Judgment in the State of Maryland is not recognized as a finding of guilt and therefore MVA points will not be assigned to the driver’s record.
Other laws that took effect on January 1, 2011, include an increase in the minimum amount of required security for motor vehicles for the payment of bodily injury or death resulting from a motor vehicle accident from $20,000 to $30,000 for one person and from $40,000 to $60,000 for two or more persons. Also, increasing from $10,000 to $15,000 the maximum amount in controversy in a civil action in which a party may not demand a jury trial.