Traffic Ticket ErrorsAuthor: Portner & Shure
There is a misconception that an error on a traffic ticket will result in dismissal of your traffic case.
Police Officers are human and they do make clerical errors on traffic citations. Often, the officer issues the ticket under the wrong section of the Maryland Transportation Article. The fact that a police officer issues you a ticket for failure to obey a traffic device, but in reality, he pulled you over and intended to ticket you for speeding, does not ensure dismissal of your case.
Certainly you can defend yourself and truthfully testify that you did not run a red light; however, the police officer also has the opportunity to give testimony and he will most likely testify that he pulled you over for speeding. He will openly admit to the error on the traffic citation, but he will also offer testimony that you did, in fact, break the law.
Clerical errors on traffic citations are generally corrected by the Judge at the time of your hearing.
The Court of Appeals recently upheld a traffic stop on a citation containing a clerical error. In this particular traffic stop, the police officer did issue the citation under the wrong section of the Transportation Article of the Maryland Code Annotated. During this traffic stop, the police officer conducted a search of the vehicle, having probable cause to do so, and found a firearm in the vehicle. The driver was subsequently arrested as a result of the search and seizure of the firearm. At his criminal trial, the driver argued that the probable cause and search and seizure were illegal because the police officer made a mistake on the original traffic citation. The court found, however, upon testimony from the police officer, that the traffic stop was legal, despite the clerical error. They found that the driver did violate Maryland traffic laws and therefore, all acts stemming from the legal stop (the search and seizure and arrest) were also legal.
If you are concerned about the traffic citation you received, and if there is an error on the citation, do not ignore it. A traffic citation is a Summons to appear at a trial. Assuming your case will be dismissed because of the error could result in additional charges and negative action by the Courts for failure to appear.
We recommend that you seek the advice of an attorney who may be able to assist you with your traffic violations and charges, even if they amount to clerical error.