Is there any foolproof way to beat a speeding ticket in Maryland?
Only one. Don’t get a ticket in the first place. (I am told this tip works in every other state, too.)
But, let’s say you were running late for an appointment and you got a speeding ticket. Now what?
Here are 10 tips for beating a speeding ticket in Maryland.
At the Scene Of The Stop
1. Be polite and cooperative with the officer. Perhaps she will exercise her discretion and only warn you, or reduce the charge to a less serious one.
2. If you have a defense, document it before you leave the scene. For example, if the speed limit sign was obscured by a bush or a tree, take a picture of it to use as evidence in court.
Before You Go To Court
3. There are 2 ways to get a better result. You can request (1) a “waiver hearing” or (2) a trial. Within 30 days, mark your selection on the ticket, sign it and mail it. Don’t just pay the ticket. You almost always do better by going to court.
At a waiver hearing, you plead guilty and there is no trial but you can present an explanation to try to convince the judge to reduce or waive your fine or to give you probation instead of a conviction. No conviction = no points. And if there is no conviction, there is no MVA record for your insurance company to use as justification for jacking up your insurance premium.
At a trial, you plead not guilty and evidence must be presented that proves your guilt. If there is insufficient evidence, you will be found not guilty. Even if you are found guilty you can still get the benefits that are possible at a waiver hearing, including a reduced fine, a reduction in points and probation instead of a conviction.
4. Decide whether to hire a lawyer. If you will have a trial, you should consider hiring a lawyer. However, in most speeding cases, it is not worth the expense.
5. Make a plan and prepare what you will say in court. At a waiver hearing, give an honest explanation for why you were speeding and, if this is true, explain that you have a good driving record. (Before court, go to the MVA and get a copy of your “full and complete” driving record to show the judge.)
6. If you request a trial, in addition to preparing what you will tell the court if you are found guilty, prepare your defense. Prepare all necessary photos, drawings and witnesses.
When You Go To Court
7. Arrive at court early. Wear what you would to a business meeting or a job interview. Always be polite to the officer and the judge.
8. At a trial, keep your fingers crossed that the officer does not appear. If he does not, there is no evidence against you and the case will be dismissed. That means no fine, no points, no anything.
9. If there is a trial, the officer must present all the necessary evidence, including that the speed measuring device, usually radar or laser, had been calibrated and was working properly on the day you were ticketed. If she doesn’t include this in her testimony, object and you may win.
After You Go To Court
10. There is one more possibility. Unless you received probation instead of a conviction (called “probation before judgment”), you can appeal to the Circuit Court within 30 days. If you do, your case starts all over again in the Circuit Court before a different judge who may give you a better result.
Here’s one more practical tip: If you got a more favorable result in court, check your driving record at the MVA after 10 days or so to make sure your driving record shows the more favorable result.
**This article is designed to provide helpful information that can be read within 2 minutes. It is neither a full explanation of this subject nor legal advice. To learn more, and to get legal advice on which you can rely, contact me or another lawyer.