Aggressive driving is a 5 point offense in Maryland. A conviction for Aggressive Driving can can come with a major impact on a driver’s car insurance rates.
Aggressive Driving is a serious, non-incarcerable traffic offense in the State of Maryland. Although you cannot be sent to jail for violating Maryland’s Aggressive Driving law, a conviction for aggressive driving comes with five points on your driver’s license. Consider that most moving violations carry just one point. Very serious offenses sometimes carry two or three points. Getting five points on your driver’s license is a very serious prospect. Five points will likely trigger a significant insurance increase, and may, if you already have a few points on your license, cause the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to suspend your privilege to drive. While Aggressive Driving is a payable offense, meaning you can simply pay the fine indicated on the ticket and need not appear in court, paying the fine will instantly earn you five points and all of the corresponding consequences. Paying an Aggressive Driving ticket is almost never the best choice. If you drive as a part of your job, or if you drive to get to your job, you should strongly consider requesting a hearing to fight your Aggressive Driving ticket. It’s almost certainly worth your time and money.
Maryland Aggressive Driving Basics
If you plan to fight an Aggressive Driving ticket in Maryland, the first thing that you need to do is to understand how the law works. The charge of Aggressive Driving has nothing to do with the mindset of the driver or how the driver regards other motorists. Aggressive Driving is a a technical crime that relies on the elements of other offenses described in the Transportation Code. What is Aggressive Driving under Maryland law? The short answer is that Aggressive Driving means that the driver was breaking three out of seven specified traffic offenses in one driving occasion.
In order to be found guilty of Aggressive Driving in Maryland you must be found guilty of at least three of the following:
- disobeying a traffic signal
- passing in an unsafe manner
- passing on the right
- disregarding lane markings
- following too closely
- failing to yield the right of way
Aggressive Driving Defenses
Defending against a charge of Aggressive Driving usually involves defending against the underlying charges. If the driver can convince the court that the officer has not presented a sufficient evidence to meet the burden of proof to support convictions for at least three of the underlying, individual charges, the court should not find the driver guilty of Aggressive Driving. A second, less common approach to defending against an Aggressive Driving charge involves arguing to the court that the underlying violations were not committed as a part of one driving incident. This is usually a fallback argument and is not typically a first line of defense for a driver charged with Aggressive Driving.
Court Dates for Aggressive Driving Tickets
Aggressive Driving cases are heard on the Maryland District Court’s non-serious traffic dockets along with speeding tickets, red light tickets, and other, less serious moving violations. Aggressive Driving cases are not prosecuted by the State’s Attorneys Office. Instead, the police officer who wrote your ticket will present testimony and evidence in an attempt to convince the judge of your guilt. The police officer will present his case first and then you are given the chance to cross examine the officer and to present evidence in support of your defense.
It’s worth mentioning here that many Aggressive Driving tickets are issued by Maryland State Police. In my experience, Maryland Troopers are extremely well trained in traffic law. They are methodical in how they collect facts and very well practiced in presenting evidence at trial. It would be a mistake to assume that the defendant-driver’s job is an easy one just because there is no prosecutor assigned to the case. It would also be a mistake to assume that you have a good chance of winning when the officer doesn’t show up to court. Officer no-shows are increasingly rare now that drivers must specify whether or not they want a contested hearing in advance of their trial dates. Some courts will postpone cases over defense objections when officers fail to appear.
Do I need a lawyer for my Maryland Aggressive Driving ticket?
You probably should have a lawyer to help you with your aggressive driving ticket. Lawyers know how to cross examine police officers and know when to make objections. Lawyers know the rules of evidence. Because non-incarcerable traffic cases are handled quickly by the courts and don’t involve much paperwork, lawyer fees for Aggressive Driving cases are typically inexpensive. When considering whether or not to hire a lawyer for your Aggressive Driving case, it’s important to understand that fines, monthly insurance premium increases, and other costs that come with a conviction for Aggressive Driving can easily add up to thousands of dollars in the course of a year or two. Typically a defense lawyer’s fee will be a lot less than that. Most defense lawyers offer free consultations.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with Aggressive Driving in Maryland, you are invited to call attorney Matthew Baum for a free consultation. Consultations, whether by phone or in person, are confidential and private. Matthew Baum can be reached at (410) 929-3435. He has offices in Baltimore, Catonsville, and Columbia, Maryland.
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