“To fight it, or not to fight it.”

The state of Maryland reported issuing roughly half of a million speeding tickets in 2011 as part of the SafeZone speed camera initiative.

That is probably a half of a million times that Marylanders pondered whether or not to contest a citation. It is a scenario that Marylanders are finding themselves in more and more.  Factor in red light cameras and you can probably say “more and more” a few more times. The issue is not limited to Maryland either, people around the country are asking the question of whether or not it is worth fighting a camera traffic ticket.

The answer is probably worth discussing with an attorney. Quite simply, it depends. It depends on the state. It depends on the person. It depends on the particular citation. It depends on all of the circumstances involved.

The first matter to examine is whether the violation is under a state vehicle code or statute as opposed to an administrative violation carrying only a fine. When the penalty is only a fine, there are no points involved and the incident does not carry onto your driving record. However, should the citation be subject to particular codes or statutes it may also carry fines and points. These factors make the citation both directly and indirectly more costly. They can remain on your driving record and influence the penalties that may come with future incidents, and also potentially impact insurance rates.

In Maryland, citations produced by a traffic camera are only administrative fines that do not carry onto your driving record.

Challenging these citations in Maryland is likely going to cost the recipient more than the face value of the ticket itself. The cost of commuting to court, paying for parking, and the hours spent missing work in the process likely adds up to more than the fine in itself let alone the cost of hiring an attorney.

However, some people are fighters naturally and just want to prove a point. For those people arguing on principle alone, there actually is a number of people around the country who have defeated the system. A brief search of articles around the country shows that these tickets can be challenged under issues of calibration and hearsay.

You cannot necessarily cross examine a computer print out as if it were a live officer. However, people have challenged the calibration of the devises and put the burden on the state to provide testing and calibration records. There have been instances around the country where people challenged states and won, as well as instances where the states could not produce an argument based on lack of sufficient records or upkeep. However, it is a serious fight and a considerable financial risk.

In states such as California, where the fines are substantially higher at $500.00 a pop, this risk might be more balanced. However, in Maryland, the cost in time, missed work, parking, and aggravation probably warrants simply coughing up the $40 bucks for the ticket.

 

Free WIFI in Baltimore County Maryland Circuit Court

The Baltimore County Bar Association recently announced the launch of a new wireless internet network available at the Circuit Court Building in Towson. The network has been made available to the public free of cost as part of a collaborative effort between the BCBA and the Baltimore County Bar Foundation to give back to the community.

The initiative is yet another innovative example of the organizations’ commitment to the community and appreciation of the times.

Our culture continues to become increasingly dependent on technology. People rely more on the internet both personally and professionally seemingly every day. Access to wireless internet will be a tremendous resource for people, both attorneys and non-attorneys, to perform research and carry out important communications.

This is made even more valuable when considering the costs of such technology during these tough times. Anyone who pays their own cellular bill understands that fast mobile internet access is not necessarily cheap. Free Wi-Fi internet access made publically available for free to the public saves other people money that might otherwise represent the need to purchase a mobile “hot-spot” card or simply additional data usage on an existing plan.

Free internet access is helpful to attorneys to perform last minute legal research or to access Maryland Judiciary Case Search or to obtain other information for clients or potential clients. Wi-Fi access makes it easier to obtain email, retrieve documents, and perform work while waiting for hearings or waiting to be called for a jury.

It is clear that the BABC and BABF have set the stage for the next steps towards improving technological abilities in the courthouses. It will be interesting to see what response other Maryland jurisdictions and organizations will have to the continuing emergence of technology. Resources such as free Wi-Fi could are tremendous, however restrictions on usage still apply. How these restrictions factor into future technological developments within the court system is sure to be a storyline in the coming years.