Drivers who receive citations for traffic violations after January First, 2011 are required to request a trial date. In the past, trial dates were automatically assigned. Those who receive a traffic violation in Maryland now have three choices; they can pay the fine, request a hearing regarding sentencing and disposition in lieu of a trial, or request a trial date. The deadline to make one of these three choices and notify the District Court is 30 days from the date that the citation was issued. This new law does not apply for must appear violations, such as drunk driving.
Those who supported passage of the new law did so because they believed that it would reduce overtime pay and other costs for courts and law enforcement agencies throughout Maryland. Under the old law, those who were issued a citation were required to either pay the fine by the trial date or appear in court on the date that was automatically assigned at the time of the citation. Many people waited until the day before or the day of the trial to pay their fines. This meant that the officer who issued the citation had to be scheduled to appear in court. If the person paid the fine on the day of the trial, the officer would have been scheduled for a court appearance needlessly, taking him or her away from patrol duty. Unnecessary court appearances often meant that officers would be eligible for overtime pay needlessly. The old system also presented scheduling difficulties for the supervisors of the officers required to appear in court.
If a person issued a citation does not pay the fine or schedule a court appearance within 30 days of the date that the citation was issued, the District Court will notify Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to take action to suspend the driver's license of the person who received the citation.