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Traffic Violations in Pennsylvania: Protecting your Driving Privileges

April, 2011

Citations that do not lead to jail or suspension, may still lead to points on your license, additional sanctions by PennDOT, and an increase in your insurance rates. Call our office as soon as possible so we can assist you in determining how to proceed. You should be prepared to fax to us a copy of the citations you received.

We offer reduced rates for our representation. For many of these citations, our office can provide advice on how you can handle the matter on your own. Often, with a little guidance, you can handle these citations on your own at Philadelphia Traffic Court or before a Magisterial District Judge (District Justice) in the County Court outside of Philadelphia.

Here is a list of the most typical moving violations that do not carry a penalty of suspension of operating privileges (except where noted) or incarceration but do lead to an assessment of points:

Section Number Offense Points
3112(a) (3)(i) or (ii) Failure to stop for a red light. 3
3303 - 3307 Improper passing. 3
3310 Following too closely. 3
3323(b) Failure to stop for stop sign. 3
3323(c) Failure to yield at yield sign. 3
3324 Failure to yield when entering or crossing roadway between intersections. 3
3332 Improper turning around. 3
3361 Driving too fast for conditions. 2
3362 Exceeding maximum speed. Over Limit:
  6-10 2
  11-15 3
  16-25 4
  26-30 5
  31-over (and departmental hearing and possible suspension) 5
3542(a) Failure to yield to pedestrian in crosswalk. 2
3714(a) Careless driving. 3
3745 Leaving scene of accident involving property damage only. 4

First, you must respond to the citation within ten (10) days of it being issued. If you fail to respond, the Court involved – whether in Philadelphia or outside the city – will notify PennDOT. As a result of that failure to respond, your license will be suspended indefinitely and a warrant may be issued for your arrest. Do not ignore your citations. You must enter a plea of NOT GUILTY and request a hearing. You may be required to post collateral in order to get a hearing date. The amount of that collateral will vary depending on the Court, typically somewhere between $50.00 and the full amount of the citation. Some Courts may not require any money as collateral – this is often true if you go to the Court in-person to enter your NOT GUILTY plea.). Collateral is the Court’s way of guaranteeing that you will appear for the hearing. If you fail to appear, the hearing will proceed without you and you will be found guilty. The Court will keep your collateral and apply it to the fines and court costs (and you may owe more).

You must appear for your hearing. At that time, you will be able to discuss the citation with the officer – in the Counties outside of Philadelphia this will be the officer who issued the citation, in Philadelphia Traffic Court this will be one officer assigned to each Courtroom for all citations being heard that day. These officers will usually be willing to discuss an amendment of the citation that will reduce the violation to one that does not lead to points by PennDOT. The general “Obedience to Traffic Control Devices” violation (Vehicle Code Section 311) or a reduction of a speeding violation to “traveling 5 mph over the speed limit” are the most typical amendments as they both carry a minimal fine and no suspension.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you must file your appeal within thirty (30) days or lose that right to appeal. If you appeal your conviction and PennDOT still issues a Notice of Suspension, do not ignore the PennDOT Notice. You must also appeal that Notice of Suspension within thirty (30) days of its mailing date or you will lose the right to appeal and your license will be suspended while you wait for your appeal of the citation to be heard. The appeal of the traffic violation if filed in the County where the Citation was issued. The appeal of the PennDOT Notice of Suspension is filed in the County where you reside according to the information on your license.

We understand that these are complicated issues. We understand that a citation for something that seems to be a minor traffic violation, may lead to the suspension of your driver’s license or commercial driver’s license, loss of employment and the life-changing events that flow from those losses. Please feel free to call Willig, Williams & Davidson with any questions.

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