Driving Suspended or Revoked. Don’t be a “Sovereign Citizen”.

Driving Suspended or Revoked Charges

If you are charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license in Maryland, there are great ways to handle it and terrible ways handle it.

A great way to handle a driving suspended or revoked charge is to first stop driving until you get a valid license. To do this, you might just have to pay a ticket. Or the MVA might require you to take a Driver Improvement course. Getting your license valid, if possible, is probably the most important thing that you can do before you go to court.

When you go to court, it is a great idea to go with a lawyer. Even if you have resolved your license issues, you still may face the possibility of jail time. You want an experienced lawyer who knows when it makes sense to negotiate a resolution or to take the case to trial. Some prosecutors and judges can be very reasonable. Unfortunately, some take a tougher line on these types of cases. I have seen people in court go to jail over traffic cases.

Over the years, I have represented countless people on driving suspended and driving revoked charges all around Maryland. I will help you around this legal minefield, with the goal of getting a great result, as soon as possible, so that you may move on with your life.

It many cases it may be possible to get the charges dismissed or to get the benefit of Probation Before Judgment (PBJ), so you don’t get any points on your license.

Now, what’s a terrible way to handle a traffic charge?

Every once in a while, someone will come into court and try to argue that license laws are invalid and unconstitutional. Usually, these people refer to themselves as “Sovereign Citizens.”

Sovereign Citizens generally argue two things:

1. That under Common Law they cannot be prosecuted, unless they consent to being prosecuted.
2. That the right to travel, which is a constitutional right, prohibits the State from having laws that require a license to drive.

Both of these claims have a kernel of truth to them.

It is true that under common law, people had to consent, by entering a plea, before being prosecuted. But it is also true that under common law, if you did not consent, they placed rocks on top of you until you consented or died. It was called Peine forte et dure.

However, Peine forte et dure was done away with many years ago. In 1913, Edward Joseph White, in a book titled Legal Antiquities: A Collection of Essays Upon Ancient Laws and Customs wrote that the laws gradually changed so that consent was no longer required and a not guilty plea was just entered if the accused stood silent. Starting with a case out of Baltimore, White wrote:

In State vs. Hare, in the year 1818, in Maryland, the prisoner stood mute and refused to plead, but the court entered up a plea of not guilty for him and proceeded to try him, just as if he had himself entered his formal plea. This enlightened procedure was adopted by Congress at the beginning of the past century, in all cases ‘where prisoners stood mute.
It was provided by Act of Congress, March 3’, 1825, that
“If any person, upon his or her arraignment, upon any indictment, before any court of the United States, for any offense not capital, shall stand mute or will not answer or plead to such indictment, the court shall notwithstanding, proceed to the trial of the person so standing mute, or refusing to answer or plead, as if he or she had pleaded not guilty, and, upon a verdict being returned by the jury, may proceed to render judgment accordingly.”
Since the enactment of this federal statute, similar acts have been adopted in most of the United States and the practice now quite generally obtains of entering a formal plea of not guilty, whenever the prisoner stands mute, for any reason and the trial proceeds just as if the defendant had himself entered his plea.

So the argument from the Sovereign Citizen that he cannot be prosecuted because he does not consent is wrong. The consequences of the Sovereign Citizen argument would lead to absurd conclusions. Who would ever consent to being charged criminally? People would literally get away with murder.

As to the argument that the right to travel means that the State may not place any restrictions on driver’s licenses, that is equally absurd. You have the right to travel, but the means may be reasonably restricted. When you drive a car, you are operating a heavy vehicle filled with highly combustible fuel at high speeds. The courts have never ruled that the right to travel doesn’t mean that the State may not regulate this. By the logic of a Sovereign Citizen, you would also have the right to fly a Boeing 747, without any training or oversight.

You have a right to travel. You even have a right to a driver’s license (it is not a privilege, in the sense that the State cannot arbitrarily deny you a license or take it away), provided you comply with the laws and meet all the requirements that everyone else has to meet. But you do not have the right to drive with a suspended or revoked license.

I have seen Sovereign Citizens walk into court and try to make these ridiculous arguments and they always lose. It is almost funny because they are convinced both that the court system is corrupt and, at the same time, that they are going to win because they believe that the law is on their side. They always end up doing much worse in court because they tend to end up pissing off judges with their nonsensical and historically twisted arguments.

So if you have a serious driving charge, don’t reply on Sovereign Citizen arguments that you find online. Give me a call at 410-905-2185 or email me at bill@williamcookelaw.com so that I may work at getting you the best possible result.