You may consider a speeding or traffic ticket in PA as just a minor annoyance, regardless of whether it was warranted or not. Many people won’t contest the citation because they view it as a hassle, thinking it best to pay it and move on. However, there are some serious implications to treating speeding tickets so casually. As any experienced speeding ticket lawyer will tell you, accepting a citation has consequences that extend far beyond the cost printed on the back.
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, our traffic lawyers in Pittsburgh recognize that it may not immediately seem worth the effort to fight a ticket. However, the implications of blindly accepting responsibility can affect your driving record, your wallet, and everything connected to your ability to drive.
Contact us at (412) 281-2146 or via our online form to schedule a free, no-risk consultation regarding your options. We’ll tell you why contesting a traffic violation could be a smart strategy, and how a speeding and traffic ticket attorney can help.
Pennsylvania Speeding Laws
Pennsylvania has established Rules of the Road intended to protect the safety of motorists and their passengers, as well as the pedestrians, bicyclists, and others who share the state’s roadways.
You can get a speeding citation if you are driving six or more miles over the speed limit. In active work or school zones, you can receive a speeding ticket if you are shown to have driven even 1 MPH over the speed limit.
If you are driving on a street or expressway without a posted speed limit, the guidelines are:
- 25 MPH on residential streets
- 35 MPH on non-residential streets
- 55 MPH on expressways
How Pittsburgh Police Determine If You’re Speeding
Pennsylvania is one of the only states to prohibit local police from using radar guns, the method of choice by police in most other states. Only state troopers are allowed to use radar guns to issue you speeding tickets.
To catch speeders, Pittsburgh police increasingly use the ENRADD system, an automatic speed trap funded by PennDOT. With ENRADD, infrared beams are used to automatically calculate your speed. Local police also use VASCAR, a stopwatch-type device, to measure your speed during manual speed traps. The reliability of VASCAR has been questioned especially when it is used to measure distances that are 500 feet or less.
Probably the most frequent way you will get a speeding ticket is after the police follow or pace your vehicle and measure your speed against their own speedometer. In Pennsylvania, they are required to follow you for at least 3/8 of a mile, the length required to get a good reading. Factors such as the distance between your car and the officer’s, whether it was twilight or night, and road conditions, can affect the pacing’s accuracy.
Pennsylvania’s Points System
Pennsylvania tracks drivers’ traffic offenses via a point system. Essentially, each traffic conviction you have will result in points being added to your driving record. For the purposes of this system, you’re officially “convicted” if you do nothing to contest a ticket and simply pay the fine.
PennDOT doesn’t take action regarding your driving privileges until you’ve accumulated six points or more. The first time you reach this number, you will receive a letter notifying you to take a written exam on your knowledge of safe driving and practices. If you pass the test within 30 days, two points are removed from your record. But keep in mind that your license may be suspended until you pass the exam.
If your driving points accumulate to six or more a second time, the matter goes to a departmental hearing. You will have a chance to defend yourself during the proceeding, and a traffic lawyer can appear on your behalf in most respects. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge may order a 15-day suspension, an on-road driving test, or take no action. However, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for 60 days if you fail to attend. Different provisions, departmental hearing requirements, and penalties apply to the third accumulation of six points and an accumulation of 11 points.
How Many Points Go On Your License for a Speeding Ticket in PA?
In general, the more excessive the speed, the higher the points. Accumulation starts at two points if you’re traveling 6-10 miles over the posted limit. After 11 or more points on your record, your driver’s license is automatically suspended.
The points structure for speeding is as follows:
- Exceeding the speed limit by six to 10 MPH — 2 points
- Exceeding the speed limit by 11 to 15 MPH — 3 points, and a 15-day license suspension if in a work zone
- Exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 25 MPH — 4 points, and a 15-day license suspension if in a work zone
- Exceeding the speed limit by 26 to 30 MPH — 5 points, and a 15-day license suspension if in a work zone
- Exceeding the speed limit by 31 MPH or more — 5 points, and a 15-day license suspension if in a work zone. A hearing examiner may assign additional penalties.
You will have to attend a required PennDOT hearing if your ticket is issued for going 31 MPH or more over the speed limit. If you don’t attend this mandatory hearing, your license will immediately be suspended for 60 days. During the hearing, the hearing examiner will recommend that you take a driving road test or have your license suspended for 15 days.
If you receive a license suspension, you will also receive five points on your record.
Penalties of a Pennsylvania Speeding Ticket
Your speeding ticket will include a cost you see written in black and white — your fine. But the real cost of a ticket includes much more. If the matter rises to the level of a summary offense or misdemeanor, a conviction will remain on your criminal record and will show up on background checks. Beyond fines and points, tickets can result in numerous other issues, including:
- Complications when applying for a job that requires driving;
- Keeping your current employment, especially if driving is necessary;
- Maintaining certain professional licenses;
- Increased auto insurance rates.
Additionally, a ticket issued in connection to an accident could have devastating consequences. If the victim seeks compensation for personal injury or property damage, a citation for speeding or a traffic violation could be used as evidence. Your assets may be at risk to satisfy any judgment against you.
Defenses Against a Speeding Ticket
If you have been charged with a traffic offense, you should first look over your citation. Check the violation and fines, and make certain that your name, address, vehicle information and license number are all correct. You will need to contact the court to verify or change information if any of it is incorrect. You have 10 days to respond to the citation. If you ignore it, you may have to pay additional fines and your driver’s license can be suspended.
Your next step should be to hire a Pittsburgh speeding ticket attorney who can help you fight your ticket and keep you from paying thousands of extra dollars over the long haul in insurance costs.
A ticket is essentially an allegation of wrongdoing in regards to speeding or some other infraction. Like an arrest, a citation is not the equivalent of guilt. Under the law, you have every right to put forth a to fight a ticket, so it’s usually worth it to actively participate in the proceedings. With the help of a speeding and traffic ticket lawyer, you may contest a ticket by:
- Disputing the Officer’s Perspective: Police may issue a ticket based upon what they saw, from their location, and under certain conditions. This subjective point of view can be called into question from multiple angles. Weather, light, positioning, and other factors could skew an officer’s perspective, and used to refute the ticket.
- Fighting Speed Detecting Technology: The devices that police use to measure your speed must be carefully calibrated and maintained on a regular basis. It’s possible to dispute your speed, which could lead to lower points and fines.
- Contesting the Facts: If signs or pavement markings were obscured, you could not be responsible for failure to comply with them.
Questions? Contact Our Pittsburgh Speeding Lawyers Today.
Though a traffic citation or speeding ticket may not be as serious when compared to other criminal matters, you owe it to yourself and your future interests to review your options. The cumulative effect of points on your driving record could lead to much more than just a fine. For more information and help with fighting a speeding ticket in Pittsburgh, turn to Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys.
Your rights are at stake and you need the best defense to keep them. I will fight using the strongest defense available to get your Speeding Ticket charge reduced or dismissed so you can move on with your life.