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Dave Carey Testimony Helps Pass Important Legislation

New Bill to Be Signed into Law; May Save State Millions of Dollars

Firm Principal David E. Carey testified on February 25, 2010, in support of a bill that will fundamentally change the process of trying traffic offenders in court.

Under the old law, all ticketed motorists in Maryland are automatically assigned a court date (unless they pay the ticket in advance). The officer who issues the ticket is summonsed to testify against them.

But in a significant number of cases, ticketed motorists simply don't appear, thus wasting the officers' time, adding to overtime charges, and resulting in great inefficiencies. The District Court of Maryland noted that of ±1.2 million traffic citations in 2009, about half ended with the fine being paid without a court appearance, and slightly less than one-quarter either went to trial or were disposed of outside a courtroom. But more than 26% of the time -- a total of 343,387 cases -- the citation recipient simply failed to show up at the scheduled court date.

The bill, endorsed by the O'Malley administration, would require a person receiving a traffic citation to check a box requesting a trial and mail the citation in. The theory behind the measure is that those who ask for a day in court will be more diligent about showing up.

Firm principal Dave Carey, whose criminal defense practice frequently sees him present in court, and who serves as Chairman ("Mayor") of the Town of Bel Air Board of Commissioners (see article about his re-election in November 2009), testified in support of this bill on February 25 in from the State Senate.

"I'd say that 30 or 40 percent of the time, the person who's name is called out, doesn't appear," Mayor Carey testified to the State Senators.

Although there were questions filed before the legislature about the cost of changing the computer programs that currently automatically schedule the court date and send the notifications, many officials and police personnel testified in support of the bill; many said that the new law could result in millions of dollars of savings for agencies statewide. There was no testimony against the bill.

According to Mayor Carey, "The bill passed both houses and, since Governor O'Malley supports it, it will become law when he signs it later this spring."

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