What You Need to Know Before Driving a Car in Maryland

Before legally driving a vehicle in Maryland, drivers must ensure they have met the requirements necessary to own and operate a vehicle. Here, the traffic law attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein explains what you need to know before driving a car in the state of Maryland to ensure legal compliance.

File for Registration, Title and License Plates

In Maryland, you must register new and used vehicles with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) before it can be legally driven. This registration also includes the titling process, which necessitates a variety of documentation. For used vehicles, this documentation includes:

  • Proof of ownership,
  • Application for Title and Registration,
  • proof of purchase price,
  • odometer disclosure statement,
  • lien information (if applicable),
  • lien release (if applicable) and
  • power of attorney (if applicable)

Additionally, you will need to pay certain registration fees. Once you have submitted all of the documentation necessary and the fees, the MVA will provide you with a temporary registration permit while they approve your application. Titling and registration of new vehicles is typically handled by the dealer, who will also provide you with temporary or permanent license plates before you drive the vehicle off the lot. The Certificate of Title is normally mailed to your residence after the purchase is completed. If, for some reason, your dealership does not handle the titling and registration, you will require many of the same documents that are required when titling and registering a used vehicle. The maximum penalty for driving without registration is a $500 fine.

Possess a Valid Driver’s License

Every Maryland driver must have a valid driver’s license in order to legally drive on state roads. If you have not held a driver’s license in the past, you must first apply for a Learner’s Permit, maintain a conviction-free driving record, complete a Maryland MVA-approved driver education course and a pass a driving skills test. If your license has been suspended or revoked, you will need to wait until the suspension or revocation is over to have your driving privileges reinstated, the time frame for which will vary based on the infraction incurred. If you believe you meet the requirements to have your driver’s license reinstated, contact the MVA’s Driver Wellness and Safety Division to begin the process. Driving without a license in Maryland may result in a fine of $500, however, those who attempt to drive with a suspended or revoked license may incur a fine of $1,000, potential imprisonment up to one year, or both.

Perform an Emissions Test

Maryland state law requires every car owned by a Maryland resident to successfully pass an emissions test to be operated in the state. Emissions tests ensure that your vehicle is not producing toxic gases over a limit, as specified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The MVA will send you a letter at some point in the two-year period after you first register your vehicle to bring it to an approved emissions-testing site to have it tested. There is a $14 fee associated with the initial test. If your vehicle does not pass the first time, the second test will be free, provided you discuss the test results before you leave the testing site and have your vehicle retested by the new due date. Failure to have an emissions test performed by the due date listed in the letter from the MVA may result in fines.

Obtain Car Insurance

Maryland state law mandates that each driver must obtain a minimum amount of insurance before operating a vehicle. The minimum amount of insurance you must obtain is $30,000 for bodily injury, $60,000 for two or more people and $15,000 for property damage. Failure to obtain the minimum amount of insurance required may result in a fine not to exceed $2,500 per year as well as a suspended registration.

Speak to a Traffic Law Attorney About Your Driving Eligibility

It is important for Maryland drivers to follow the steps necessary to legally own and operate a vehicle. If you or a loved one has been charged with an infraction related to Maryland’s driving requirements, speak to a traffic law attorney to discuss the best options for your situation. Douglas C. Lauenstein, a traffic law attorney with years of experience, will be able to provide you the insight you need to find the appropriate solution and potentially avoid fines or jail time. Contact him today for more information and a free consultation!