Traffic Violations and Negligence: Ignorance is not an Excuse

I was recently involved in an accident in Maryland. I pulled out of a two lane road onto a four lane road and was hit by a guy who was speeding. I never saw him coming. I got a ticket for failure to yield the right of way even though there was no stop sign. I also got a ticket because my six-year-old son was not in a car seat. I did not even know he had to be. This is ridiculous. Perry, SD


Maryland has what is called a Boulevard Rule, which is probably why the police officer gave you a ticket. This means that anyone traveling on a secondary road (yours had two lanes) has to yield the right of way to anyone traveling on a main road (the other had four lanes). Whether the other driver was speeding or not is usually irrelevant and cannot be used as a defense. We cannot advise you whether to contest your citation or not, if that is what you are asking.

Ignorance of a law is no excuse. If you are using a roadway, you are expected to know the applicable rules that govern its usage. Not knowing the laws will not get you out of a traffic citation.

Ignorance is also not an excuse to avoid financial responsibility. It will not be cause for pardon if you cause an accident. If a motorist exceeds the speed limit, whether he or she was aware of what the speed limit was, he will be ticketed if caught. The same goes for a driver caught using a cell phone where it is not allowed, or not having a child in the appropriate booster or safety seat in a state that requires it.

If negligence causes an accident, whether the driver was aware or not, he is also subject to liability or financial responsibility.

The negligence rules of the state where the accident occurred will also be applied. For example, it does not matter whether or not a driver is aware that he or she was driving in a state that applies the contributory negligence law; any action by the driver that contributes to the accident will bar him from recovery.

This rule that 'ignorance does not excuse infractions' is intended to protect all drivers. This stems from the principle that driving a vehicle on public roads is not a right, it is a privilege.

This article is approved for informational purposes and does not take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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