Sometimes, a worried client will ask us: "I have a few speeding tickets
under my belt. If we go to trial, will that be used against me?"
Other times a client will ask us if we can use
the defendant's poor driving record against him or her at the trial. What is the rule that
governs the use of driving history at trial?
The short answer is, it's generally unusable. The ordinary rule in
Maryland (as in the rest of the United States) is that you cannot use
a person's poor conduct in the past to prove what they did or didn't
do in the present. So for example, even if the plaintiff or the defendant
is accused of speeding and causing the
auto accident at issue, that party's past speeding tickets will not be admissible.
It is also true that a person's past criminal convictions can be introduced
into evidence if that person testifies, in order to prove the point that
the witness is a dishonest person. But in Maryland, only certain types
of crimes may be introduced -- major crimes (such as murder) and crimes
of dishonesty (such as theft and fraud). Again, past speeding tickets
and similar infractions won't be admitted by the court.
In short, the only evidence of a person's driving behavior that will
be admitted, will be the evidence of how the person was actually driving
at the time of the accident. This is true whether it hurts or helps your case.
If you would like to bring a lawsuit because someone else injured you in
an auto accident, and you have any questions about what evidence can be
used for (or against) you at trial, you should
contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.