You probably think of getting a traffic ticket as a slap on the wrist. You get pulled over, receive a piece of paper, and pay a fine. It is more of an annoyance than a real problem. However, not all traffic tickets are minor offenses. There are numerous traffic violations that lead to misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. In this situation, quickly paying a fine is either not an option or your best option. A criminal defense attorney from our law firm can help.
If you are facing criminal charges because of a traffic violation, contact a Pittsburgh criminal traffic attorney at (412) 281-2146 right away for a free, initial case consultation
Pennsylvania Criminal Traffic Violations
Many traffic violations can result in criminal charges. Our experienced Pittsburgh criminal traffic lawyers can defend you against all types of criminal traffic charges, including:
- Driving Under Suspension– If you are found driving a vehicle while your license has been suspended, revoked, or canceled, you face a summary offense under 75 Pa. Code §1543. This could lead to an additional license suspension and a $200 fine. If your license was revoked or suspended due to a DUI, then you face a harsher punishment for the summary offense. For driving under suspension due to a DUI, you face summary offense, third-degree misdemeanor, or first-degree misdemeanor charges.
- Driving Without a License– 75 Pa. Code §1501 states it is unlawful for anyone to drive a vehicle upon any highway or public property without a valid driver’s license. If the police pull you over and find you are driving a vehicle without a valid license, you will be charged with a summary offense punishable by $200 in fines. However, if your license was lost or stolen, then you can defend yourself against this charge. After being charged with a license-related offense, call a criminal traffic attorney right away.
- Reckless Driving– If the police believe they witnessed you driving in a manner that demonstrated a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or property, then you will be pulled over and ticketed for reckless driving based on 75 Pa. Code §3736. This is also a summary offense punishable by time in jail, a fine up to $200, points on your driving record, and a possible license suspension.
- Drag Racing– 75 Pa. Code §3367 makes any type of racing on public roads illegal. If you were arrested for racing another vehicle on public roads, you will be charged with drag racing, which is a summary offense, is punishable by a fine up to $200. In this situation, contact a criminal traffic lawyer to defend you.
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident– If the police believe you were the perpetrator of a hit and run, you can be charged with a summary offense, misdemeanor, or felony based on 75 Pa. Code §3745 and §3742. This is because you are required to immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of any accident to exchange information and provide help when it is needed if you are capable of doing so. The level of the charge depends on the outcome of the accident, such as whether there was only property damage or someone was hurt or killed. If property was damaged, then this is a summary offense, punishable by imprisonment up to 90 days and a fine of $300. If someone suffered injuries, then it is a first-degree misdemeanor. Serious bodily injuries cause you to face a third-degree felony, while another person’s death will result in a second-degree felony charge. If you are facing a hit and run charge, you need a criminal traffic attorney by your side as soon as possible.
- Eluding or Fleeing the Police – If the police give you a signal that they want you to pull over and you do not immediately respond and stop, then under 75 Pa. Code §3733, you can be charged with eluding or fleeing the police. While this offense encompasses police chases, it can also include your driving too many blocks before pulling over for a traffic stop. You will likely be charged with at least a second-degree misdemeanor. However, certain factors, such as crossing state lines, can cause you to be charged with a felony.
- Homicide by Vehicle– If the police believe you caused an accident due to reckless driving and this crash caused the death of another person, then you will be charged with homicide by vehicle, 75 Pa. Code §3732, a third-degree felony.
- Aggravated Assault by Vehicle– If the police believe they have evidence that you drove recklessly and caused another person injury, or caused another person harm through your gross negligence, then you will face a third-degree felony based on 75 Pa. Code §3732.1. If you are being accused of harming or killing someone due to driving recklessly or while operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contact a criminal traffic attorney today.
Possible Statutory Punishments
You need to know the potential punishments you face if you are convicted or plead guilty of a summary offense, misdemeanor, or felony. Contact a Pittsburgh criminal traffic lawyer to discuss the possible statutory penalties, including:
- Summary offense– Up to 90 days in jail, and up to $300 in fines
- Third-degree misdemeanor– Up to one year in jail, and up to $2,000 in fines
- Second-degree misdemeanor– Up to two years in jail, and up to $5,000 in fines
- First-degree misdemeanor– Up to five years in jail, and up to $10,000 in fines
- Third-degree felony– Up to seven years in prison, and up to $15,000 in fines
- Second-degree felony– Up to 10 years in prison, and up to $25,000 in fines
- First-degree felony– Up to 20 years in prison, and up to $25,000 in fines
You could also lose your driver’s license for a period of time, be required to complete community service, pay restitution, and live under the harsh restrictions of probation for years. To learn more about these potential penalties and collateral consequences, call a Pittsburgh criminal traffic lawyer at our firm today.
Criminal Traffic Violations Defenses
After being charged with a criminal traffic violation, you need to meet with a criminal traffic attorney to discuss you potential defenses. There may be one or more possible defense strategies applicable to your situation, including:
- Someone else was driving your car
- Driving during an emergency
- Unconstitutional traffic stop
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Unlawfully obtained evidence
- Prosecution’s lack of sufficient evidence
Once you call a criminal traffic attorney at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we will conduct a defense investigation into the matter right away.
Call a Pittsburgh Criminal Traffic Attorney Today
If we do not believe there is a strong case against you, we can seek to have the charges dropped or reduced. If the charges are dropped, you can move forward in life without fear of a tarnished driving record or permanent criminal record. If the prosecution moves forward with any charge, the criminal traffic lawyers of Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys will discuss your various options, including pleading guilty, seeking a plea bargain, or fighting for an acquittal at trial.