All traffic violation hearings take place in the District Court in the Division in which the infraction is alleged to have been committed. All hearings are held before a Judge/Justice; you do not have a right to a trial by jury for a traffic violation.
If you wish to contest a traffic ticket, you must do so by following the directions on the back of the traffic ticket. If you misplace or lose your ticket and wish to contest the ticket, call the Violations Bureau at 783-5422.
If you contest a traffic ticket, the Violations Bureau will notify you of the hearing date and time. You must appear at the Courthouse as directed; failure to do so will result in the Court entering a judgment by default against you and assessing a fine. Depending upon the seriousness of the offense and your prior record, if any, the Court also has the authority to suspend your driver's license.
At the Courthouse your case will be called along with numerous other cases. Depending on the county in which your case is heard, the presiding Judge may want to know whether you now wish to admit to the charge(s), speak with the District Attorney or a law enforcement officer about your case, or proceed to hearing. If available, you may choose to speak with the District Attorney concerning your case before deciding whether you wish a hearing. You are under no obligation to speak to the District Attorney; he/she represents the State of Maine, not you. They cannot give you legal advice. They can tell you what disposition they would recommend to the Court with respect to your case if you decided not to contest the matter. You may attempt to convince the District Attorney that they should not proceed to hearing on your case, and/or that you have a meritorious defense to the charge(s).
If you decide you wish a hearing, you should remember the following:
- These cases are not criminal matters, but civil in nature. Accordingly, the standard of proof necessary to find that you have committed the infraction alleged is "by a preponderance of the evidence", NOT "beyond a reasonable doubt," the criminal standard of proof. Put another way, the State needs to show that it is "more likely than not" that you committed the infraction.
- There is no possibility of a jail sentence being imposed: the range of sentences is restricted to a fine and a possible suspension of your right to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Maine.
- There is no "guilty mind" required to be shown on behalf of the defendant in order to find that the defendant committed the infraction. That is to say, the State of Maine does not need to prove that the defendant "intended" to exceed the speed limit, or that they "knew" they were committing the infraction, ONLY THAT THE INFRACTION INDEED WAS COMMITTED BY THE DEFENDANT.
- With respect to speeding ticket cases, Title 29-A Maine Revised Statutes Annotated Section 2075(4)(A) requires the Judge to find that the results of a measurement of your motor vehicles speed by radar must be considered "prima facie" evidence that your motor vehicle was in fact proceeding at the speed measured by the radar.
- Any fine imposed as a result of an admission to or an adjudication of having committed a traffic infraction is payable to the Violations Bureau within 30 days of the admission/adjudication.
If you have a hearing, the State will proceed first by calling its witness(es), which usually consist of the officer who gave you the ticket. The officer will be required to testify under oath. You have a right to ask the officer questions if you wish. Once the State is finished presenting its case, you have the right to call witnesses and testify yourself if you wish. If you choose to testify, you will do so under oath and you may be asked questions by the District Attorney. Once both sides are finished with their presentations, the judge will decide the matter and tell you their verdict. If you wish to appeal the verdict, you have 21 days to do so. Check with the clerk as to the procedure that must be followed. You will be required to pay the fine and filing fee for any appeal made; you will receive your fine money back if you are successful on appeal.