Montgomery County Council Member Will Jawando said Thursday that he has paid the fines for two 2020 traffic infractions and disputes a state court database indicating that his driver’s license was suspended.
A Motor Vehicle Administration spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that Jawando’s driver’s license was not suspended.
Jawando was cited in October 2020 for using a phone while driving, and driving without current registration, according to online court records. He was fined $153 total for the two citations.
Jawando was pulled over by a Maryland Transportation police officer on the Intercounty Connector in Montgomery County, but a court database shows that the case was assigned to the district court in Baltimore city, where MDTA is headquartered.
Jawando said in an interview Thursday that he mailed a check to pay for the fines within weeks after he was cited.
However, Jawando said he heard from a WJLA reporter this week that court records show his license being suspended. Jawando said he paid the court fines this week over the phone and assumes the original check never got to the court.
He said the Maryland Vehicle Administration never suspended his license.
Online court records indicate that Jawando did not show up for a Baltimore City court hearing on Nov. 29 and his driver’s license was then suspended. But Jawando said the reference to the suspension is inaccurate.
Domenick Chelton, a clerk with the Baltimore City District Court, said in a brief interview Thursday that the court record showed the fines had not yet been paid. However, he noted that since Jawando paid by phone, it can take a few days to process the payment, because that requires the use of an older payment system.
Katie McEvoy, an MVA spokeswoman, wrote in an email that Jawando’s license was not suspended as of Dec. 2.
“Since the courts notify the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) of the suspension request, a suspension notice is sent to the customer and they are given 15 days to clear the issue before their driver’s license is suspended,” McEvoy wrote.
In follow-up text messages, Jawando said his cellphone was in the middle console of his car when he was pulled over on the Intercounty Connector and he was using the phone’s GPS function.
According to state law, the MVA is notified when someone fails to appear for a court hearing and suspends their license. If the person has failed to appear once, they can request a new trial or hearing date.
Jawando said the expired registration citation violates Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order, which extended the deadline for motorists to renew their registration because of the state of emergency. He also said he was focusing on other issues after getting the citations, such as legislation concerning police accountability, and didn’t immediately get to renew his registration.
A spokesman with Maryland Transportation police could not be reached for comment on Thursday afternoon.