During your life as a driver, there is a good chance you will get pulled over and given a traffic ticket in Pennsylvania.
When you, unfortunately, are issued a traffic ticket in Pennsylvania, there are two main questions that arise: (1) SHOULD I CHALLENGE THE TICKET AND PLEAD NOT GUILTY? AND (2) DO I NEED TO HIRE A LAWYER?
Do I Challenge the Ticket and Plead Not Guilty?
My advice is YES! Always plead Not Guilty and request a hearing. This must be done within 10-Days of receiving the ticket in Pennsylvania. The ticket will usually have instructions on the back as to how to plead Not Guilty and request a hearing. It should explain where to mail or hand-deliver the Not Guilty plea, and how much money you must pay as collateral (usually about $50.00, but varies by municipality).
By pleading Not Guilty and requesting a hearing, the situation cannot get any worse, it can only stay the same or get better. If you lose, you will still face the same violation and consequences on the original ticket. Additionally, you may not be sure of what the exact consequences of the ticket are, therefore, you may plead guilty and pay the fine only to then find out your license is suspended, you have points on your license, or your insurance rates are going up. If your ticket is in Philadelphia, your case will first go to Philadelphia Traffic Court; if your ticket is in a Pennsylvania County, your case will first go to the local Magisterial District Court.
If you plead Not Guilty and go to a hearing, the likelihood is that you will be able to negotiate a lesser offense and/or fine; and avoid points and/or a license suspension. Some tickets carry no points and a small fine but do lead to a license suspension. Also, for some tickets even if you are guilty at the time of being pulled over, showing up to court with proof you corrected the error may lead to the ticket being dismissed.
For example, tickets such as: (1) expired registration, (2) expired inspection, and (3) expired license, if you plead Not Guilty and then show up to the court hearing with proof you updated the registration, inspection, or license, the officer and/or court will many times reduce or dismiss the ticket and fine.
Lastly, you may attend the court hearing to then find out the officer is unavailable and cannot appear in court, in that case the ticket may be dismissed or the Judge will enter a Not Guilty verdict.
Therefore, unless it will cause a grave inconvenience to go to court, I suggest you always plead Not Guilty and request a hearing for a traffic ticket.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania?
So now that I advised you to challenge the ticket and plead Not Guilty, the question is: Do You Need an Attorney for a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania?
Lawyers will have different opinions on this, but my position is you do not always need an Attorney for a traffic ticket in Pennsylvania. If the ticket carries consequences of only a fine and nothing else, you are fine handling it yourself in the hopes of getting the ticket and fine reduced.
Whether you need a lawyer, in my opinion, depends solely on the consequences of the traffic offense.
Some examples of instances a lawyer is recommended are:
1. The ticket carries points on your license;
2. The ticket may lead to a license suspension;
3. The ticket may impact your auto insurance rates
4. The ticket may impact your employment;
5. You have a CDL license and drive a truck, bus, tractor-trailer, or construction vehicle/equipment for a living that requires the CDL to be current;
6. You were in an accident and alleged to be at fault; and
7. You are under the age of 18.
Accumulation of Points and License Suspension
If your ticketed offense carries points against your license, you must strongly consider hiring an Attorney for your traffic ticket in Pennsylvania.
The PENNSYLVANIA License Point System is as follows:
1. The first accumulation of 6 total points: A mandatory written examination is required which you must pass within 30 days to avoid a suspension.
2. The second accumulation of 6 total points: You will have a hearing with the Department of Transportation that may lead to a 15-day suspension, re-taking of the road test, or a warning.
3. The third time accumulation of 6 total points: You will have a hearing with the Department of Transportation and possibly face a 30-day suspension.
4. Accumulation of 11 points or more at one time: A mandatory license suspension. The length will depend on how many prior suspensions you have, and the number of total points over 11.
5. If you are under 18, the first accumulation of 6 points or going 26 miles per hour over the posted speed limit will result in a 90-day suspension.
A license suspension is not just you not driving for the period of the suspension. You must surrender your license to PennDot and the day you turn it in is when the suspension begins. Once the suspension is over, PennDot does not just mail your license back and say behave. You must submit paperwork and pay a fee to have your license returned and reinstated.
Red Light Violation = 3 points
Improper Passing = 3 points
Stop Sign Violation = 3 points
Careless Driving = 3 points
Reckless Driving = 6-month suspension
Leaving Scene of Accident = 4 points
No Insurance = 90-day suspension
Following Too Close = 3 points
Failure to Stop for School Bus = 5 points & 60-day suspension
6-10 mph over = 2 points
11-15 mph over = 3 points
16-25 mph over = 4 points
26-30 mph over = 5 points
31+ mph over = 5 points and other penalties
11+ in Work Zone = 15-day suspension
School Zone = 3 points & 60-day suspension for 2nd offense
In conclusion, the need for an Attorney for a Traffic Ticket in Pennsylvania depends on multiple factors, such as:
- The consequences faced;
- Your comfort in going to court and advocating for yourself against a police officer, prosecutor, and judge;
- Your financial situation; and
- If you have a CDL license or drive for a living.
Crucial things to remember when pulled over for a Traffic Offense in Pennsylvania:
- Do not argue, fight with, insult, belittle, or become aggressive with the officer. This is obviously for your safety and the officer’s safety, but it certainly does not help when you appear at the hearing and have to defend yelling at or disrespecting a police officer; also the officer will be less likely to work out a reduced ticket and fine. Very rarely will your actions at the time of being pulled over get you out of a ticket.
- If you believe you did nothing wrong or are being singled out for discriminatory reasons, save that battle and argument for a courtroom with an Attorney. Nothing good can come from a confrontation between the officer and you.
- Cooperate, be respectful, make no strange or sudden movements, ask for permission to obtain documents, and be honest. Your actions during the stop, if proper and appropriate, will go a long way in helping you at your hearing in getting a ticket reduced or dismissed.
If faced with the decision of how to handle a traffic ticket in Pennsylvania, contacting a Pennsylvania Traffic Ticked Attorney like Paul S. Peters III, Esquire is worth your time. Paul S. Peters III, Esquire will be able to assist you in determining whether or not his services can be helpful and the initial consultation will be free.
Thank you for reading and safe driving!
TRUSTED AND AGGRESSIVE PENNSYLVANIA
TRAFFIC TICKET ATTORNEY
If you have been issued a traffic ticket in Pennsylvania in any of the following counties, contact the trusted and experienced Montgomery, Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Lehigh, Lancaster, Northampton, Berks, Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntington, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder, York Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne, and Wyoming County Pennsylvania Traffic Ticket Attorney: